Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Review: The Plains of Passage by Jean M. Auel

I finished this book, the next in my reading of the Earth's Children series, while on vacation. I'd read about 200 or so pages before I left, but the book is over 800 pages long, so I knew I'd have plenty to keep me busy while visiting my family up North. It was good, a necessary installment to keep the story of Ayla and Jondalar going, but not the best in the series by any means.

In this book, our heroes, Ayla of the Mamutoi and Jondalar of the Zelandonii, have left the Mamutoi camp that had adopted Ayla and struck out across the Eurasian land mass during the Ice Age, trying to reach Jondalar's people in the West. This book details all that befalls them as they travel: they meet several different bands of people, even some Clan members (what we know as cavemen), rescue any number of folks, including a band of people where men were enslaved and women ruled under a cruel mistress, fought the land and its flora and fauna for survival, and tracked the Great Mother River from her beginnings in the Beran (Bering?) Sea (remember, this is before the great land mass separated into Eurasia and North America), to where she petered out in the West (somewhere in what is now France).

While I enjoyed the furtherance of the storyline that I've been following over the last several books, this was not my favorite. I'm not sure why, but the infodumping was much more noticeable to me in this book than in the others. I'd be reading about a hunt or some other high-action scene, and then all of a sudden I'm getting a geological lesson in the formation of glaciers or a sociological lesson in the making of ancient tools. I recognize that Auel did some major research in order to make the details of the book realistic, but I don't know that it was necessary to give us EVERY detail of EVERY topic she researched. It made the book drag in spots. And the other flaw I would note is...there is a lot of sex. Like a LOT. Now, I am no prude, and I have not minded the sex in the previous books, but it seemed multiplied and kind of gratuitous in this installment. It got to the point where I could see it coming and inwardly groaned. And it really didn't move the plot forward in most cases. Yes, Ayla and Jondalar are young and in love. I. Get. It.

Overall, I did enjoy the book, and it was important to tell the next bit of their story, but I hope the next book moves a bit away from the infodump and the sex and includes more action! Recommended for fans of the series, anyone who likes their stories hot and heavy, or anyone who wants a deeply detailed look into life in the Ice Age. Three and a half out of five Whatevers. Avoid this one if you don't like the sexy times.


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