The Valley of Horses by Jean M. Auel
Book 2 in Earth’s Children series
Unabridged, 21 hr. 46 min.
Sandra Burr (Narrator)
September 14, 2004
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Downloaded the audio from my local library
“This unforgettable odyssey into the distant past carries us back to the awesome mysteries of the exotic, primeval world of The Clan of the Cave Bear, and to Ayla, now grown into a beautiful and courageous young woman.
Cruelly cast out by the new leader of the ancient Clan that adopted her as a child, Ayla leaves those she loves behind and travels alone through a stark, open land filled with dangerous animals but few people, searching for the Others, tall and fair like herself. The short summer gives her little time to look, and when she finds a sheltered valley with a herd of hardy steppe horses, she decides to stay and prepare for the long glacial winter ahead. Living with the Clan has taught Ayla many skills but not real hunting. She finally knows she can survive when she traps a horse, which gives her meat and a warm pelt for the winter, but fate has bestowed a greater gift, an orphaned foal with whom she develops a unique kinship. One winter extends to more; she discovers a way to make fire more quickly and a wounded cave lion cub joins her unusual family, but her beloved animals don’t fulfill her restless need for human companionship. Then she hears the sound of a man screaming in pain. She saves tall, handsome Jondalar, who brings her a language to speak and an awakening of love and desire, but Ayla is torn between her fear of leaving her valley and her hope of living with her own kind.”
I loved Clan of the Cave Bear a lot and having read from a lot of people that many of the other books in the series were not as good, I waited a little while to pick this one up. And while I will admit that this was not as good as the first book, it wasn’t all that bad either.
I think I was the most disappointed in the fact that the entire book is not about Ayla’s adventures. That was one of the things that I loved about Cave Bear. Reading the book blurb it sounds like the focus is again going to be Ayla and that she will eventually meet a man at some point in the novel. However, early on the book is divided into Ayla’s story and Jondahlar’s story. Jondahlar is one of the “Others”. While it was interesting learning their ways in comparison to the ways of “The Clan” – I just did not find myself really all that interested in Jondahlar and his friends. I always wanted to get back to Ayla’s story.
I knew however, that these two storylines would eventually come together with Jondahlar and Ayla meeting. Knowing this, I was disappointed with how they actually met – it felt too rushed and contrived. Seeing them get to understand each other was entertaining, but I swear that if Jondahlar described Ayla as beautiful one more time I might have screamed.
Overall, the story was good. I think a little less Jondahlar and a little more Ayla would have made it better. Also, some scenes could have been abbreviated and more effective. I still will be reading the rest of the series but have lowered my expectations just a little bit.
The narration was fairly similar to how the narration was in book one (same narrator). I think that the production was improved upon, and I found the narrator’s voice easy to listen to.
Auel also has written 5 other books in the series: The Clan of the Cave Bear #1, The Mammoth Hunters #3. The Plains of Passage #4, The Shelters of Stone #5, and The Land of the Painted Caves #6. You can visit Auel’s website for additional information about the book. If you would like to preview the story before reading it, why not try out this audio excerpt of the book?
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