Woo, almost done with the cave pr0n series! The Shelters of Stone is the second to last book in the Earth’s Children series, and…[sigh] as tedious as the last one was, this one is almost as bad.
Let’s get to it!
(I actually just clapped my hands together, if that helps)
We last left the hottest couple to hit the paleolithic era as they were walking up to the cave that Jondalar calls home. He’s been gone for five years, and no one really expected to see him back. We get introduced to many, many, many, many people. Full introductions. Not just “this is my other brother Daryl” kind of stuff, but “son of Arathorn, leader of the hobbits under the hill, friend to some other a-hole you never heard of, brother to blahblahblah.” Because of the ridiculously long-winded introductions, it takes over 200 pages for them to even get through the first DAY of being back with the Zelandonii.
Some of the heavy-hitters we meet are:
- Marthona and Willomar, Jondalar’s mom and step-dad.
- Joharren and Proleva, Jondalar’s brother and his mate (Joharren is now leader of the Ninth Cave, he stepped up to the plate when their mother retired).
- Zelandoni/Zolena, the woman who is now first among the mystic-type people and the one who initiated Jondalar into the ways of Pleasuring women (the first gong he banged)…oh, but she’s now morbidly obese.
- Marona, the woman Jondalar was going to mate before he took off on his Journey.
- Laramar, the cave drunk (he makes barma, the alcoholic beverage)
- Brukeval, he’s a quarter Clan, but denies that his grandmother would have ever lain with a filthy animal. He’s got some serious rage issues.
Right away, there’s going to be a huge welcoming feast for our weary travelers. Jondalar and Ayla sneak off to “take care of the horses,” but we all know what they’re really going to do. While they’re washing up after their little bit of afternoon delight (yes, get that song out of your head now! haha!), Marona comes by and makes some not-so-veiled comments about Jondalar’s manhood, but then offers to help Ayla get all gussied up for the big feast. Ayla hasn’t had any girlfriends in a while, so she decides to take her up on her offer. Of course, it’s all a set up. Marona and her friends put Ayla in little boys’ winter underwear. Some short leggings and a leather tank top type-thingy that’s really too small to contain her boobage. Ayla walks out of Marona’s hut and everyone starts laughing. Not only is she wearing boy underthings, but she’s also got this belt on that only young men wear when they’re looking for a woman to teach ‘em how to “be a man.” Yeah, it totally backfires, because then everyone is pissed at Marona for being such a bitch.
Everyone LOVES Ayla Sue (how could they not, she’s absolutely perfect in every way), but they all comment on her strange way of speaking. We’ve heard for the last four books how everyone comments or thinks about her accent/speech impediment, why mess with a good thing? Except we only have to hear it EVERY SINGLE TIME someone meets her. Anyway, it’s a feast which means everybody gets stupid drunk. Laramar is always most popular during feasts because his barma is best.
The next day, a bunch of the caves get together to go hunting and Ayla and Jondalar are all excited to show off their spear-throwers. One dude gets trampled, and Ayla is able to keep him alive just long enough for his mate to show up so they can bid each other a tearful farewell. Zelandoni/Zolena realizes what an awesome healer Ayla is and starts trying to come up with a way to get Ayla to join the
cult mystics so she can keep her under control.
So, the dude that dies actually ends up causing a lot of trouble for our dear protagonist. Since she’s a foreigner, she’s supposed to walk behind the person of lowest status in the funeral (that would be Laramar, who else?). HOWEVER, since she’s marrying the brother of the current leader and son of the previous leader, Zelandoni/Zolena cooks up a scheme to have her walk in with all of the zelandoni (this whole capital/lowercase of THE SAME WORD for different meanings is super confusing), then go stand with Jondalar. Even though it’s a freaking funeral, Laramar raises a huge stink because he was all excited about not being last for once. This is where he really starts hating the gorgeous stranger.
From this exchange, we’re able to discern that anyone that doesn’t like Ayla is obviously a bitch (Marona) or a complete douche. I forget how it happens, but Ayla discovers that Laramar’s mate has lost her milk (because she’s constantly drunk), and their 9 year old daughter is taking care of the baby. Ayla basically shames all of the lactating women in the cave into helping feed the baby by telling them “even flatheads wouldn’t let a baby die because the mother lost her milk.” There she goes again…making friends and influencing people.
They all head off to the Summer Meeting (there are SO MANY stupid Summer Meetings in these books), and I forget if anything happened along the way. I don’t think so, I’m pretty sure that nothing good happens until they get there, but there’s at least 20 pages of the aforementioned nothing.
Anyway, the Ninth Cave arrives and there’s a big to-do over the animals again. Ayla has to introduce Wolf to roughly 1000 people (and we get to read about each one!), but the big thing about this Meeting is that it’s where Jondalar will finally make an honest woman out of Ayla.
Yup, that’s right, they’re going to “tie the knot.” Ayla finally gets to give Jondalar the gorgeous white tunic she made for him that winter she was shacking up with Ranec, and everyone ooohs and aaaaahs over her beaded tunic and leggings that she also brought with her from the Mamutoi. We are told repeatedly about how she must have super high status among her own people to have such a beautiful garment. There are over 1000 beads on the stupid thing, and we hear about practically every single one. [heavy sigh] We’re also told repeatedly that Ayla is super gorgeous at her matrimonial, and see into the heads of several men who want her for their own, especially since she’s already knocked up. I’m sure the fact that she had her boobs out had nothing to do with that, cos…you know, it’s tradition among her people. Brukeval especially, has these really disturbing fantasies about what he’d do with her if she was his woman. He’s got this love/hate thing going on with her. He loves her because she’s gorgeous and smiles at him, but he hates her because she thinks he’s part-Clan. He screams a lot about how he’s NOT A FLATHEAD! Um…
Once the knot is tied, the young couple have to spend the next two weeks without speaking to anyone other than each other. Jaundice and Ayla Sue LOVE this because it means they can spend the next fortnight boinking away, and they don’t have to worry about being rude by ignoring people. They find a special little glade near a stream and spend most of their time there, only making the occasional foray afield to either hunt or have sex in new and interesting places.
On their way back to the Meeting after the two weeks are up, they come across a group of young men engaged in a bit of wooly rhino baiting. Alas, one of them is too slow and he ends up getting gored. Ayla (best healer in the world that she is) fixes up his leg and he doesn’t die or lose it. He’s just a bit lame, but her super-awesome flint-knapper husband is willing to take him as an acolyte. Blah.
Meeting over, they head home.
Months pass, Ayla gets huge, Whinney gets huge. They both have baby girls (within days of each other), which I found kind of odd. Ms Auel did all this research, but I was always under the impression that horses had longer gestation periods than humans? How did Whinney have her baby around the same time as Ayla, when Ayla got knocked up first? Whatever.
Ayla names her daughter Jonayla (I poo you not), and the baby horse is named Gray.
Phhhhbbbbbt. That’s me blowing a raspberry at this stupid book. Final installment next week!