In The Valley of Horses, Ayla, the unforgettable heroine of The Clan of the Cave Bear, sets out on her own odyssey of discovery away from the nurturing adoptive family and friends of the Clan. She is in search of others like herself and in search of love.
Sharing a hidden valley with a herd of steppe horses, Ayla finds a unique friendship with animals as vulnerable as herself and ingeniously discovers the complex skills needed to survive - skills no Clan member was ever able to master.
But none of her experiences prepares her for the emotional turmoil she feels when she rescues a young man - the first of the Others she has seen - from almost certain death.
Torn between her desire for human companionship and her fear of the unknown Others, she struggles against her deep attraction to the handsome Jondalar. It is Jondalar who teaches her the meaning of true friendship and love.
©2004 Jean M. Auel; (P)2004 Brilliance Audio
The tale of Ala and Jondalar is well written and well worth it. Their prehistoric surroundings and the struggle for survival adds to the excitement of their meeting and romance. From the second chapter where Jondalar is introduced I couldn't wait for them to get together, but when they finally did, toward the end of part 2, human foibles kept their romance on the brink and the story rolling.
You can tell that Jean Auel put a lot of research into her work. It shows in the long, detailed descriptions of flora and fauna. While I appreciate the detail of their daily lives, I often felt that complete descriptions of how to nap flint, dry herbs, and of the wide steppes and the numerous animals found there could have been edited out. More often than not I was wishing I could just skip this section and move back to the people and what they were doing.
As mentioned in previous reviews the narrator is a bit speedy and "flashbacks" are disconcerting in their presentation (as if we suddenly are listening to an old time radio show).
This book has a great story, exciting romance, interesting surroundings and people you can believe really existed. Despite the cons, there are more than enough pros to warrant giving this book a solid four stars.
I don't know why I enjoy the story of Ayla and Jondalar, but I do. Both characters have a definite Mary-sueish quality to them but the rich description of life in prehistoric Europe still manages to engage me even after several readings. I'm happy to find the entire, unabridged reading on Audible.
Unfortunately, this version is let down by the narration. The reader is competent enough, but I find her voice quite nasal, and she reads too quickly for me to really enjoy the story. The 'flashbacks' to Ayla's Clan life were particularly irritating to listen to. I eventually became accustomed to the reading, but I would have preferred it had she been a little less rushed.
I gave this 4 stars, but would have given 3.5 if I could.
I read the first book in this series shortly after it first came out and was captivated by the story and the setting. Auel had an excellent idea for a story and did a bang up job of telling it. The next four books in this series I grabbed as soon as they were released. When these books became available as audio books on cassette I bought them and listened to them again and again over the years. Now I have the entire series again through Audible. Good investment in money and great investment in time. Personally I think Sandra Burr does a good job with the series. My only complaint is that it has been 31 years since the first book in the series came out and Auel said at that time it would be a six book series. For anyone that's interested book 6 'Land of Painted Caves' will finally be released in book stores on March 29, 2011. I hope Audible makes it available then as well I've been waiting on for 31 years. Actually the five books of this series that have already been published read more like one exceptionally long book. I know a lot of people don???t care for the detail that Auel goes into but I like it.
I read this trilogy years ago, and loved it. I am loving it all over again. For me, this second book is wonderful because Ayla is such a strong spirit and her connection with animals intrigues me. It is also nice to have more humans for her to interact with. Can't wait for the next one!
First reading The Clan of the Cave Bear is not required in order to start The Valley of the Horses. Jean M. Auel introduces all the information necessary to bring you up to date on Ayla’s past history and starts the parallel story of two men starting their journey from the other side of the continent. You will be introduced into the landscape of the geography, animal life and cultures of other peoples existing in this period. Ms. Auel once again, shares her detailed research into all these aspects as well as the strong character development she created in Clan of the Cave Bear. Sandra Burr continues her excellent narration of the story with her rich voice ranging the scope of all the characters.
I'd read all these books previously - all but the first two as they were published.
I love the story and all the detail she wrote into it. Doesn't feel dated at all, despite being twenty years later for me.
Listening though, I felt the narration seemed rushed and somewhat difficult to get into each time I started it.
This is a good story, in a series of good stories. I did NOT like the narrator, she sounded like she was reading to a group of First Graders. That would not be so bad until she was talking about the sexual scenes, it gave me the creeps.
Lengthy passages dedicated to blow-by-blow sex. I'm no prude, but I found these bits neither interesting nor erotic. They were a distraction that did nothing to move the story forward.
The main characters are too impossibly perfect in every way. Ayla is like a stone-age Martha Stewart (in a hot body) who sets up a well-stocked cave all by herself. Where you know that Martha has a large staff helping her offstage, there is no conceivable way that one person could do everything that Ayla did on her own. Humans need community, especially primitive humans. One person cannot possibly hunt, fish, dry meat and tan hides, gather enough wood for an entire winter, harvest vegetables and herbs and enough grains to feed two horses, etc.. single-handed as Ayla does in the book. My suspension of disbelief couldn't keep up to the task.
Where Cave Bear was interesting in showing how people lived, and theorizing on what Neanderthals might have been like, Valley of the Horses only touches only a little on how Neanderthals and more modern humans might have perceived each other and interacted. It is marred by a descent into utter fantasy about two supermodel super-talented supersmart humans having super sex.
What genre is it? I couldn't tell. I thought I was picking up a historical novel but it turned out to be more of a harlequin romance.
She stuck through the tedious bits like a trooper!
Cut 80% to 90% out of each sex scene.
This was a disappointment after Clan of the Cave Bear. I'll skip the rest of the series.
An amazing story, well-told and well-researched.
Ayla ... an independent woman, a survivor.
She portrays each character perfectly.
When Ayla connected with the horse and the cave lion as helpless infants.
A captivating story with much to teach.
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