The Critique Circle Public Library

The Shelters of Stone (Earth's Children)
by Jean M. Auel
Amazon rating
Critique Circle rating 
PublisherBantam
Release Date2004-04-27 (added to CC 24 May 2009)
Amazon Sales Rank15,990
The Shelters of Stone opens as Ayla and Jondalar, along with their animal friends, Wolf, Whinney, and Racer, complete their epic journey across Europe and are greeted by Jondalar’s people: the Zelandonii. The people of the Ninth Cave of the Zelandonii fascinate Ayla. Their clothes, customs, artifacts, even their homes—formed in great cliffs of vertical limestone—are a source of wonder to her. And in the woman Zelandoni, the spiritual leader of the Ninth Cave (and the one who initiated Jondalar into the Gift of Pleasure), she meets a fellow healer with whom to share her knowledge and skills.

But as Ayla and Jondalar prepare for the formal mating at the Summer Meeting, there are difficulties. Not all the Zelandonii are welcoming. Some fear Ayla’s unfamiliar ways and abhor her relationship with those they call flatheads and she calls Clan. Some even oppose her mating with Jondalar, and make their displeasure known. Ayla has to call on all her skills, intelligence, knowledge, and instincts to find her way in this complicated society, to prepare for the birth of her child, and to decide whether she will accept new challenges and play a significant role in the destiny of the Zelandonii.

Jean Auel is at her very best in this superbly textured creation of a prehistoric society. The Shelters of Stone is a sweeping story of love and danger, with all the wonderful detail—based on meticulous research— that makes her novels unique. It is a triumphant continuation of the Earth’s Children® saga that began with The Clan of the Cave Bear. And it includes an amazing rhythmic poem that describes the birth of Earth’s Children and plays its own role in the narrative of The Shelters of Stone.

Member Reviews
(4 Oct)
This is the 5th book in the series. This one and the last book in the series are still good, in my opinion, not as well-written as the first four, so I only gave it four out of five. I've also heard several criticisms of it, and the next book in the series, by people who have enjoyed the first four books. The problems with these two books are that the protagonists are in a large, civilized society now so while there are some interesting social dynamics (I love the obese matriarchal head shaman) they don't have as much opportunity for wilderness adventures. The past books all involved the wonder and danger of exploration and learning in the wilderness, or at least new societies. These two books are more about coming back and learning the daily grind again. I understand why Jean wrote them, and I recommend at least skimming a bit of this book to see if you like it, but we usually don't choose to read books to hear about the daily grind, even if that daily grind is taking place in a stone age society 30,000 years ago. We like to hear about adventure and danger...though again, the overweight matriarchal shaman is great.
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