Thursday, April 3, 2014

Jean M. Auel - Earth's Children

Well, as promissed I'll try to do a review of some books.
The kickoff is with this 6 book series by Jean M. Auel.

Part 1 - The Clan of the Cave Bear (1980; "Grottbjörnens folk", översättning: Mikael Mörling)
Part 2 - The Valley of Horses (1982; "Hästarnas dal", översättning: Mikael Mörling)
Part 3 - The Mammoth Hunters (1985; "Mammutjägarna", översättning: Mikael Mörling
Part 4 - The Plains of Passage (1990; "Stäppvandringen", översättning: Margareta Eklöf)
Part 5 - The Shelters of Stone (2002; "Nionde grottan", översättning: Tove Janson Borglund)
Part 6 - The Land of Painted Caves (2011; "De målade grottornas land", översättning: Tove Janson Borglund, Helena Sjöstrand Svenn, Gösta Svenn)

I have been thinking how to do this in depth, without giving away all the clues.

For me it started with reading the first book in Dutch and that caught me so much that I ended up buying all 6 books in English, since I think that books should be read in the original language, because often the deeper meanings get lost in translations. And lately I started collecting these books in Swedish as well, simply because I so like the story, which would help me wrestle through it in a foreign language in order to learn that better. The translation unfortunately did not capture the thrill I experienced with the English books, but that might also be because of my still to limited knowledge and understanding of the Swedish language.

The story is based around the main charactre; Ayla, a cromagnongirl ending up being adopted by a group of Neanderthals. You follow her through her childhood as she grows up to become a young adult (we'd say teen these days), when she leaves that group and goes out into the wide world to find her own kind.

What attrackts me to this series is, of course, the Stone Age/outdoortheme and the remarkably deep knowledge AND keen eye for detail the author shows. I often was just blown away by this combination. Many of the skills so admired in the bushcraft/outdoorscene are descibed in detail; firemaking, foodgathering, hunting, knowledge of plants both as food and medicine, use of animalresources, flintknapping, cordage.... you name it!
Add to that the exciting world of Cromagnonman meeting Neandethals, mammuths, giant bears and lions and all the other species of the Ice Age/stone Age world and you can begin to picture it. The author's detailled description helps with filling in any blanks you might encounter.
Another very appealing aspect to me, was the intricate manor in which the author blends all that knowledge, adds a large dose of spiritual subjects and creates a story that is, sometimes painfully, appliqable to our times as well.
She sure did her homework on this epic story and has a very compelling way of writing. I gotted sucked into the books, forgetting the world around me, not hearing or seeing anything
Is it all glory and glamour? No, there are aspects which I did not like all that much; the repetitive nature of writing, when it comes to describing several things, like the previous history in the story. I guess that comes when you create semi-independent stories within a larger series, so you could read the books one at a time.
Also the quite explicit erotic scenes that get drawn out, described in detail, agian and again. It's fun and exciting at first, but after a while it gets annoying and I ended up skipping those repetitions, since I read the books chronologically and thus know what happened. The same for the erotic scenes. Reminded me a lot of those 50cent trashnovels my mom and sister used to read. (Yes, I did peek into those, just to see why they thought those were so exciting...)
And the end of the last book, part 6, left me feeling like the story was not done yet. It was an open ending, without an ending. It feels not finished...

The most exciting parts for me are when the maincharactre is on her own, exploring, foraging, hunting, acquiring and using all sorts of skills and the wonderfull descriptions of the scenery and nature's beings, topped with a thin layer of spiritual essence. (Book 1,2 and 4)
The least liked part is where societies come in with all their complicated human interactions and social activity. Books 3,5 and 6 of which I like the last the least.

All in all, if you are interested in ancient crafts, this era, bushcrafty stuff ( the real deal, not the buy-and-show-part), or anything related, I can wholeheartedly recommend this series!
I went through 3300 pages (5 books) in Swedish in 6 weeks! The 6 English were devoured in under 2 months, too.
Go get 'm! I am on the hunt for the final book, part 6, in Swedish......

1 comment:

  1. Great books in many ways.
    And I totally agree in your reweiv.