The Shelters of Stone (Earth's Children #5) The Shelters of Stone question

Is the 6th book even worth reading?
Rebecca Rebecca Sep 18, 2012 02:16AM
This book was so mind-numbingly dull that I felt it was barely worth reading through the first time. I can read and re-read the first 4 books with relish, but the 5th book was a serious snooze-fest. I love Jean Auel- her understanding of ancient times is engaging to say the least, but the fifth book felt so forced and contrived that it was almost painfully boring to read. The only interesting part in my opinion was her acclimation at the beginning of the book to the Zelandonii people and the different struggles that she faced while getting used to a new culture. But even that was previously addressed in the Mammoth Hunters. I haven't read the 6th book yet. I counted down the days until this book came out and bought it right away- only to face bitter disappointment. What do you think? Is Ayla and Jondalar's perfection too much to read on? Is their tendency to invent everything that is of importance too annoying to continue? I love Ayla, the first three books were life-changing. The 4th book was pretty good, but the 5th?? I don't know, what do you think?

I agree, to say I was disappointed is an understatement! To have waited almost 10 years for the conclusion of my favorite series, and then have to suffer through this book was such a let-down. I am glad I read it for the sole purpose of finishing the series, but it could have been so so so much better. The characters acted out of character, the tours of the caves never amounted to anything, and the ending fell so short of its potential. I had wanted to see Ayla negotiate truces and trade agreements with the nearby Clan, develop her spiritual connection and leadership position as a new Zelandoni, and relish her second chance at motherhood. None of this happened. I was beyond saddened by the conflict in part 3, as well as being confused and underwhelmed by Ayla's big announcement at the end of the book. Its up to you, if you really want to finish the series then read it, you can skim through all of part 1 and most of part 2 and still get all the relevant info.

This is such an interesting discussion. I have a very different perspective. I LOVED it! I did not find the series until a couple years ago and so read the whole thing over the course of a year. Only had to wait about 6 weeks at the end for #6 to come out. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the flora and fauna and the caves. I enjoyed have the series wrapped up in a satisfying way. She does become a medicine woman at the end. That was quite satisfying. I do agree that there were some plot points repeated but to me they fit where they were and so worked in the story for me. The one book that i felt dragged was #4 when they were traveling. I kept wanting them to just get there already. But even that did fit with the story, in my opinion.

I agree that the book is very repetitive. I enjoyed the series but this last book I found myself skipping through pages to get back to the story line. It held my interest just long enough to get me to the end.

I completely agree with you about the disparity between the books. The first two were undoubtedly the best, as all information given was new. The third book was good, but spent too long on repetitive descriptions of Ayla and Jondalar's sex life, which added nothing to the narrative. As the series went on I often had the feeling that the author was trying to hit a certain page count, rather than using her skill to convey what she wanted to say about the story. I felt that there was a failure in the editor here.

Having said all of that, if you have accompanied Ayla on her journey how could you not see it through to the end? I am currently reading Land of Painted Caves, and can see that there is not quite so much repetition of certain things as there has been in previous books (though I don't know how many times she reprints The Mother's Song - I just skip it). I do find the endless cave descriptions a bit dull at times, but there are other things that happen. I want to finish the series, and am sure that I will wonder from time to time how the characters are getting on, as they do inhabit my imagination.
I just feel that half of this series would have been twice as good if the narrative had been tightened up and the books had been shorter.

I only started reading them after I heard Jean Auel on the radio as the guest of a book group. She stated that Ayla had definitely completed her journey, so there will be no more. If I were you I would make up my own mind, and there is only one way to do that.

Have not read Painted Caves or seen a copy. Have read Shelters of Stone and I liked it -- I liked the dealings with the medicine woman of the Zelandoni, adjusting to the new home, Ayla's fascination with the tribe's style of crafts, etc.
But the MAIN thread IMO was Ayla's reluctance and eventual acceptance of her calling as a medicine woman herself. We have known that she had this talent all along, but somehow she had some kind of psychological block against making her role official.
So her acceptance at the end of Stone was a satisfactory end to the series for me.
I cannot imagine what else the author had left to say about Ayla or the ancient cultures or anything else. Sometimes the publisher just wants a title that will sell in the marketplace, y'know?

I've started reading Land of the Painted Caves and am maybe 1/3 of the way through. Your comments have me questioning whether to push on. I, too, loved all the previous books, but am seeing repetitive info and it does drag. I was so excited to pick it up and start reading it. Dang. I may read a bit more, see if anything piques my interest. I do love the insights into the anthropological aspects of Jean Auel's writing. Thanks for giving me something to think about!

I liked the first book, thought the second was okay, and could have skipped all the rest.

I loved the first books of this series and could hardly wait for "The Land of the Painted Caves" - I got about 1/3 of the way through and just could not make myself finish ! Sorry - I won't risk this one unless she wants to give it away and ONLY then will I give it a chance ! Very disappointing .....

Loved book 1 and was all downhill from there. None of the other books are worth reading...bad!!

Rebecca wrote: "This book was so mind-numbingly dull that I felt it was barely worth reading through the first time. I can read and re-read the first 4 books with relish, but the 5th book was a serious snooze-fest..."

You are right on. It was as if Ms. Auel didn't have anything else to write about, so she gave us a history/geography/antrhopology lesson. I mean, who wants four pages of description? I loved books one through three, and four was pretty good too, but book five was a waste of money. And book six is coming? I didn't know that. Might get it from the library, but I doubt I'll be spending my hard earned money on it.

Found the cave descriptions in book 6 dreadfully tedious. Agreed, the poorest of the lot.

Don't read it! It's horrible, really. The book is extremely repetitive. When you start reading it, you might think there's going to be a point to Ayla visiting all those caves. Don't bother looking for it. There really isn't.
If it makes you feel any better, the perfection between Ayla and Jondalar does get broken a bit, with Jondalar acting like an ass, and Ayla reacting like an idiot. For me, that wasn't an improvement, though. It annoyed me, and I hated the ending. HATED the ending. All this potential building up, Ayla being special and clearly Destined For Something, and then this is what it comes down to? No fun. Really, this book is a combination of boredom, frustration and exasperation. Don't bother with it, it'll save you the aggravation.

I will be honest - if you can live with the slightly cliff-hangeresque ending at the end of this book then don't bother reading the 6th one.

It is extremely repetitive (both in terms of itself and plot points which have been covered in the earlier books) and although it does add a more rounded ending than the end of this book it doesn't really add anything outstanding.

There are a few plot points from this book and from others that I thought might be picked up but they just seem to be forgotten. All in all the last book is not the best of the bunch.

I suggest skipping past the cave stuff. It was pointless. Start when Ayla is finishing up her training -- when she is keeping track of the motions of the sun and moon. That's where things start to get good. Jondalar and Ayla have a crisis which some readers will find annoying. The good part is Ayla's revelation and what it will mean for everyone. Unfortunately, Auel leaves all this for the very end and does not explore how this revelation will change everyone. I guess she meant to leave it for our imagination. In my opinion, however, this is what Land of Painted Caves should really have been about --Not the tour of the caves.

Greetings all :)

I had to stop with this series 1/2 way through the 4th book. It got to the point when the left page was sex between Ayla and Jondalar and the right was over-done, minute detail, nauseating descriptions of the flora and fauna that they came across.

Methinks that Auel got lost in the trees and never managed to find the forest :/

I loved the pretty-much everything about the first three books in this series. I was transported into another world. I was a caveman watching Ayla struggle to survive, learning from her, cheering her on. I enjoyed #4 but I didn't think it was a good as the first three. I thought Auel could have been more self-critical and slashed about 20% of it - maybe even more. The fifth I found far too slow-moving. There were flashes of the old brilliance but much of the book lacked freshness and tension. After reading #5 I decided I wasn't going to bother with #6.

I agree with above comments. The first 5 were enjoyable but the sixth wasa big letdown.

No. it was rambling, misogynistic and poorly written - as well as simply re-using stories from older books. There's a bit where Ayla is informed a condition is fatal, and rather than arguing and trying to save the person - as in every other book - she just sort of nods.

Glad to see I am not the only one... I have had the last book lying about unread for over 2 years now... I hated the fifth one so much, that the idea of re-reading it is painful...

I have read and reread the first 4 ones at least 20 times in the last 20 years... Kind of sad that the series had to end up being such a dissappointment...

A resounding NO!!!! I love the first four books. I even liked Shelters of Stone. I HATED Painted Caves! It was pointless, the "plot" never really gets going, the three sections are disconnected, and the third section is just maddening, with, as previously stated Jondalar acting like an ass and Ayla handling it poorly. Worst for me, that part of the story line was completely unbelievable, for me, these characters wouldn't do what the author had them doing. The writing isn't nearly as good as the other books, the characters are all very wooden. Before I work myself up more, just do yourself a favor and don't read the book. If you disregard our warnings, do yourself a favor and skip the second section, nothing really happens that is in anyway connected to the rest of the books and it is extremely repetitive and boring!

It is the only book, I have read in the series. I found it interesting.

I gave up at about the 15% mark on the 6th one...after they had been wandering caves for the previous 14%...not worth it

I have to agree with all the above. I too read all the other 5 and waited years for the final book. I was able to check it out at my local library. I was so happy, I couldn't wait to delve into it! Well, it drug on and on and on...This book is over 750 pages and I got up to page 420..I couldn't read beyond that. I tried and tried. My library allows checkouts for 3 weeks at a time. I renewed this book 9 times..yes, 9!! Altogether, that is 30 weeks. I kept telling myself I would finish it. I hardly ever abandon books, and if I do, it is usually for extremely bad grammar and syntax. It was boring, extremely repetitive, and in my humble opinion, lacking plot. So, I took it back to the library. I may try it again someday, but probably not. There are too many good books out there to suffer along with the bad ones!

This is the worst book of the series - you can do without it

I agree with all these comments...first three books good, downhill after that.

I read this series so long ago, but I do remember being disappointed in the 6th book. It was as if she just wanted to conclude the series because of pressure from the readers that she just made up things on the fly. Given that, I may decide to start reading them again...I have all the books in my library.

Carina Mary wrote: "Carina, you should definitely read the first 4, at least. They were the best, as far as I'm concerned."

I've read them all before but they
Feb 17, 2013 11:40PM

I didn't read this one because I knew I would be disappointed. I still wanted some questions to answer so I looked on wiki and a few other places for a synopsis - not only were my questions not answered, but it seemed like an absolutely awful ending to the series!

I do not believe this is the book Auel wanted to write when she started out. A lot of sub-plots are set up in books 4 and 5:
- Ayla's emerging powers as a Healer and psychic
- The conflict between the Clan and the Others and a possibility of negotiations and trade
- A tragedy in the Ninth Cave, with Ayla having visions of the over-hanging rock ledge falling down
- Jondalar's unresolved love for Zolena
- The domestication of different species

None of it was explored in the sixth book, as far as I could tell from what others said. I believe Auel simply wanted to get this one out and finish it before she became too old but had either got bored of it or never had a clear idea of a conclusion when she started writing. She has said in interviews COTCB began as a short story and then expanded, and I would imagine the idea of a series came to her after it's success. She also said in an interview that Ayla would live to be 42, leading me to believe the series would conclude with her death. I think she really lost her way with this series and wasn't a skilled enough writer to recover. Her editor is also largely to blame.

I don't feel any regret having spent 5 minutes 'reading' it rather than going through 600 pages. From the reviews on Amazon, most people who read it wish they hadn't bothered.

Having followed this series for years and waited with baited breath for the 6th book, even preordering, disappointed would be an understatement!
I LOVED the previous 5 books and couldn't wait to see how all loose ends would be tied up..........I'm still waiting!
Do yourselves a favour and do NOT bother opening it :-(

If you love caves, then I would say yes. After 300 pages I had had enough.

I got about 30% into the book and had to stop. It was a MAJOR disappointment. I enjoyed the other books, especially 1-4. 5 was ok. I very rarely stop reading a book when I start, but I just couldn't read anymore. It was like it was written by someone else.

This series takes place in an idealized past, which I enjoyed in an escapist fashion. Until the ending of the last book. Even my feminist, environmentalist self was a bit disappointed at the heavy-handedness of the ending.

There was also an annoying hole in one of the sub plots.

Overall, though, I still loved the series enough to rate it highly. I enjoy all of these books, even this last, which in my opinion is by far the weakest.

Linda No way!! Just a rewrite of the other books...waste of time.
Jul 11, 2014 06:12AM · flag

back to top