Sunday, April 22, 2012

Review: The Valley of Horses by Jean M. Auel

I read the first novel in this series, The Clan of the Cave Bear, a month or two ago. I can't say I loved it, but I can say that I kept thinking about it after I had finished it. The world that Auel created, the world of early man, was one that captured my imagination. This second book in the series I believe I Mooched, back when I was collecting all of the books. And this one I liked even better than the first.

SPOILER ALERT!!! If you haven't read The Clan of the Cave Bear yet, and you intend to, you might not want to read my description of this book, as it talks about some of the events of the first novel. Ayla has been cast out by the Clan, a death curse upon her, and she begins to wander. She is trying to find her own people, the Others, and find a mate among them. At the beginning of this book, she is wandering, wondering when she will meet up with all of the Others whom Iza told her lived to the North. Winter is coming on, and she is wondering what she will do for food and shelter through the rough cold season, when she comes across a cave in a valley. The cave would make good shelter and the valley would provide enough in provisions to allow her to stay the winter. Eventually, Ayla makes a nice life for herself in the Valley of Horses, but she is lonely. The second storyline of the book follows a man of the Others, Jondalar, and his brother Thonolan, as they make a Journey east from their home. When the two paths overlap, will Ayla finally find the family she's been looking for?

I really liked this book, much better than the first. In fact, I found this one very hard to put down. I was glad that Ayla was away from the Clan. All the Clan names started to run together for me, and I often got confused about who was who. But in this book, Ayla spends most of her time alone, so we get a better idea of who she is without the constraints of the Clan rules and customs. She really comes into her own in this book.

I give it four and three quarters out of five Whatevers. Recommended for those who like great detail in their historical fiction (I feel like I could knap flint, make medicines, and hunt prehistoric game after reading this book), for those who like strong female protagonists (Ayla is completely kick ass), and for those who like some dirty sex thrown in with their casual reading (yes, there are some steamy scenes). Since I like all of the above, this one was a winner for me!


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