I was once a fan of Jean Auel’s Earth’s Children(TM) series.
I loved Clan of the Cave Bear. It was the best cave-people novel I had ever read (unfortunately, that’s not saying too much; the competition back then was sickly).
I loved parts of Valley of Horses. Parts of it were…let’s just say, not what I was looking for.
I loved some things about The Mammoth Hunters. The rest I lived with.
I enjoyed the scenery and the characters in Plains of Passage.
I re-read all of them, more than once, and many scenes remain vividly painted in my mind despite the obstacles.
I managed to drag my ass through Shelters of Stone one time. One stinking time, and I mostly remember one very unexciting scene. All attempts to re-read have drowned in a tar-pit.
Now we have The Land of Painted Caves. Ayla’s incredible(sic) prowess is veiled in yet another stupefying mass of congealing prose. Veiled, not unveiled; that’s what I said. Rather than improving over the many years, Jean Auel’s writing style seems to have grown worse. The action, the characters, everything is buried in verbosity that defies belief. There’s hardly a paragraph, in what I have read so far, that couldn’t be reduced by a third.
Dialogue is another sore point for me. Did stone-age people really talk like cardboard cutouts? Did they care that much about perfect syntax? If people had always spoken in such an egg-walking way, language would never have evolved. I want to hear some life in the way characters interact.
Add Ayla’s know-it-all-ness, Jondalar’s wuss-ness, interminable “As you know, Bobelar” explanations, and the usual heavy-handed head-hopping, and you get a flavorless stew that sticks in the throat of any discriminating reader.
Having sampled what is available on the Web, I have no great desire to rush out and buy the book. Not even to borrow the book. I don’t think it will add a whole lot to my life experience.
I will give Jean credit where it is due, however. Because of her, I have become a much better writer. In the eight years since I kick-started myself by writing parodies of her work, I have written more and learned more about the craft of writing than in my entire life before that.
So long and thanks for all the stone knives and bearskins 😉