Earth’s Children by Jean M Auel

The Spellbinding Saga of Earth’s Children: A Masterpiece of Prehistoric Fiction


Have you ever wondered what life was like for our ancient ancestors tens of thousands of years ago? Well, Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children series will take you on an epic journey through the Paleolithic era like no other. This sprawling six-book saga immerses you in a richly detailed prehistoric world filled with adventure, romance, and a captivating exploration of how our ancient forebears lived and survived.

Earth's Children by Jean M Auel

You can find Earth’s Children by Jean M Auel on your favorite bookstore, including and Amazon UK.

About author Jean M Auel

Jean M Auel

Jean M. Auel is a renowned American author best known for her critically acclaimed Earth’s Children series, a sequence of novels that transports readers to the prehistoric era and explores the lives of our ancestral human species. With her vivid storytelling and meticulous research, Auel has captivated millions of readers worldwide, solidifying her place as a literary icon in the realm of historical fiction.

Born in 1936 in Chicago, Illinois, Auel’s fascination with prehistory took root at an early age. Her curiosity about humankind’s origins and the ways of ancient civilizations laid the foundation for her groundbreaking work. After a successful career as a technical writer, Auel embarked on a literary journey that would reshape the landscape of historical fiction.

The Earth’s Children series, which comprises six novels spanning over three decades of writing, is a tour de force that meticulously reconstructs the lives of our Paleolithic ancestors. From “The Clan of the Cave Bear” to “The Land of Painted Caves,” Auel’s novels transport readers to a world long forgotten, where survival, rituals, and the intricate dynamics of prehistoric societies come alive on the page.

What sets Auel’s work apart is her unwavering commitment to authenticity. She immerses herself in extensive research, consulting anthropologists, archaeologists, and experts in various fields to ensure that her depictions of prehistoric life are as accurate as possible. Her attention to detail extends to the intricate descriptions of tools, shelters, and the intricate social structures that governed these ancient communities.

Auel’s writing is not merely a retelling of history; it is a profound exploration of the human condition, transcending time and space. Through her captivating narratives, she examines themes of family, love, survival, and the indomitable spirit of humanity. Her characters, such as the iconic Ayla and her adoptive clan, have become beloved fixtures in the minds of readers, resonating with their struggles, triumphs, and the universal desire to understand one’s place in the world.

Beyond her literary achievements, Jean M. Auel’s impact extends to the realm of popular culture. Her novels have been adapted for television and have inspired countless readers to delve deeper into the study of prehistory. Her work has ignited a passion for understanding our ancestral roots, bridging the gap between the modern world and the enigmatic past.

Jean M. Auel’s legacy is one of storytelling excellence, unwavering dedication to historical accuracy, and a profound appreciation for the resilience of the human spirit. With each novel, she invites readers on a captivating journey, reminding us of our shared heritage and the enduring power of stories to illuminate the depths of our collective experience.

The Clan of the Cave Bear: Where It All Begins

Let’s start at the beginning with The Clan of the Cave Bear, the book that kicked off this phenomenal series in 1980. You’re immediately thrown into the harsh realities of life circa 30,000 years ago as you follow the story of Ayla, a young Cro-Magnon girl orphaned and adopted by the Neanderthal Clan.

Can you imagine being a modern human raised by a species viewed as inferior and primitive? That’s the mind-bending experience Ayla goes through, struggling to fit in with the Clan’s strange customs and belief systems. Yet at the same time, you can’t help but be in awe of the Clan’s resourcefulness, their deep spiritual connection to nature, and the tender familial bonds that form despite the differences.

The Valley of Horses: A Breathtaking Odyssey

Just when you think Ayla’s story can’t get any more gripping, The Valley of Horses kicks things into high gear. Exiled from the Clan, Ayla must fend for herself in the untamed wilderness, forging an unbreakable bond with animals that will leave you utterly spellbound.

Have you ever felt a profound connection with a pet or wildlife? Now imagine that intimacy amplified a thousandfold as Ayla learns to coexist and even communicate with horses, wolves, and other beasts in ways that defy conventional understanding. Auel’s depictions of this prehistoric “horse whisperer” will leave you feeling like you’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the natural world.

The Mammoth Hunters: Sex, Violence, and Shattered Taboos

While the first two books lay an enthralling foundation, it’s The Mammoth Hunters where Auel flexes her prowess for mature, uncompromising storytelling. Brace yourselves, because there’s sex, violence, and the shattering of numerous cultural taboos as Ayla finds herself caught up with the exotic “Mamutoi” society.

I don’t know about you, but I was utterly fascinated by the contrasts between the repressive Clan and the free-spirited, matriarchal Mamutoi. It’s like being transported to an ancient counterculture where promiscuity, egalitarianism, and even gender fluidity were the norm. Watching Ayla navigate these philosophical clashes while hunting… well, mammoths, is a literary experience you won’t soon forget.

The Plains of Passage: An Epic Love Story

Ah yes, how could I not gush about the heart of this series – the epic love story between Ayla and Jondalar that spans The Plains of Passage and The Shelters of Stone? These two star-crossed lovers from vastly different backgrounds must endure endless trials and tribulations, but their passion for one another feels as primal and unstoppable as the forces of nature themselves.

Seriously, has there ever been a couple with worse odds of making it work? Yet against all logic, you find yourself wholeheartedly rooting for Ayla and Jondalar’s romance to blossom amidst the harsh realities of their prehistoric existence. From fending off territorial gangs to contracting illnesses we’re thankfully unfamiliar with, their love triumphs in a way that’s both poetic and inspiring.

The Land of Painted Caves: A Transcendent Finale

While each of the previous books is a sweeping epic in itself, it’s The Land of Painted Caves that brings Auel’s masterwork to a mesmerizing conclusion back in 2011. This final installment is a transcendent exploration of the roots of human creativity, spirituality, and the eternal drive to make our mark upon the world.

I was utterly transfixed by the vivid descriptions of the prehistoric cave paintings and artwork created by Ayla and her companions. It’s as if Auel tapped into some ancestral well of inspiration, allowing you to feel the beating heart and profound aspirations of your ancient forebears. By the end, you’re left with a soul-stirring realization of the commonalities that unite all of humankind across the ages.

Why You Should Experience Earth’s Children

At this point, I hope I’ve convinced you to embark on this prehistoric odyssey for yourself. Jean M. Auel’s sprawling Earth’s Children series is far more than just a cluster of entertaining novels. It’s a grand philosophical journey that forces you to reexamine your place in the world and your connection to the ancient human lineage.

With exhaustive research and detail, Auel constructs whole civilizations, societal belief systems, and ways of life that make you feel like an anthropologist studying a real ancient culture. Yet at its core, Earth’s Children is driven by characters you can’t help but empathize with – flawed, multidimensional individuals navigating life’s fundamental struggles with courage, wisdom, and an indomitable zest for living.

These books are awesome not just because they make the prehistoric era feel viscerally real, but because they remind you of the perseverance, curiosity, and creative spark that allowed humanity to progress from cave dwellers to the modern marvels we are today. So do yourself a favor – step back tens of thousands of years and experience the full sweep of the Earth’s Children saga. It’s a transportive literary journey you won’t regret.

6 Similar Book Series to Check Out

If the Earth’s Children series left you craving more sweeping prehistoric tales, here are five other epic book series I’d recommend:

  1. “The Journeyer” by Gary Jennings – This epic historical novel spans multiple generations and follows a Stone Age tribe’s migration across Europe and Asia. Jennings’ vivid world-building and attention to detail make this a compelling read for fans of prehistoric fiction.
  2. “The Inheritors” by William Golding – From the author of “Lord of the Flies,” this novel imagines the interactions between Neanderthals and the first modern humans. Golding’s exploration of humanity’s origins is thought-provoking and poignant.
  3. “The Forest People” by Colin M. Turnbull – This non-fiction work follows the author’s experiences living with the BaMbuti Pygmies of the Congo. Turnbull’s immersive account provides insight into the lives of a modern hunter-gatherer society.
  4. “Shaman” by Noah Gordon – This historical novel follows the life of a young man in prehistoric Europe who becomes a powerful shaman. Gordon’s extensive research and vivid storytelling bring this ancient world to life.
  5. “The Mammal Hunters” by Björn Kurtén – This non-fiction book by a paleontologist explores the lives of prehistoric hunter-gatherers and their interactions with ancient mammal species. Kurtén’s scientific expertise lends authenticity to this fascinating read.
  6. “The White Buffalo Woman” by Ellery Metcalfe – This novel blends history and mythology, following a young woman who becomes a legendary figure among the Plains Indians of North America. Metcalfe’s rich storytelling and attention to detail make this a compelling read for fans of historical fiction.


What is the “Earth’s Children” book series about?

The “Earth’s Children” series by Jean M. Auel is a epic work of fiction that follows the story of Ayla, a Cro-Magnon woman, and her journey through prehistoric Europe during the ice age. The series explores the interaction between Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals, as well as the challenges faced by these ancient human societies.

How many books are in the “Earth’s Children” series?

The “Earth’s Children” series consists of six novels: “The Clan of the Cave Bear,” “The Valley of Horses,” “The Mammoth Hunters,” “The Plains of Passage,” “The Shelters of Stone,” and “The Land of Painted Caves.”

What time period does the “Earth’s Children” series cover?

The series spans a significant period, beginning around 30,000 years ago and continuing through the end of the last glacial period, approximately 25,000 years ago.

Who is the main character in the “Earth’s Children” series?

The main protagonist of the series is Ayla, a Cro-Magnon woman who was orphaned and raised by a clan of Neanderthals known as the Clan of the Cave Bear. Her journey of self-discovery and survival forms the central narrative of the series.

What are the major themes explored in the “Earth’s Children” series?

The series explores various themes, including the clash of cultures between Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals, the role of women in prehistoric societies, the development of language and communication, and the evolution of human knowledge and skills, such as tool-making and hunting techniques.

Why is the “Earth’s Children” series considered groundbreaking?

Jean M. Auel’s “Earth’s Children” series is considered groundbreaking for its detailed and extensive research into prehistoric life, as well as its vivid depictions of the daily struggles and cultural practices of ancient human societies. The series has been praised for its realistic and immersive portrayal of the past.

Where does the majority of the “Earth’s Children” series take place?

The majority of the series takes place in prehistoric Europe, spanning various regions such as modern-day France, Germany, Ukraine, and Russia. The characters travel across these vast landscapes, encountering different environments and cultures along the way.

How has the “Earth’s Children” series been received by readers and critics?

The “Earth’s Children” series has been widely popular among readers and has received critical acclaim for its attention to detail, historical accuracy, and engaging storytelling. The series has sold millions of copies worldwide and has been translated into numerous languages.

Is the “Earth’s Children” series based on real historical events or discoveries?

While the series is a work of fiction, Jean M. Auel extensively researched prehistoric life and incorporated many factual elements and archaeological findings into her novels. The series is heavily inspired by real historical events, cultures, and discoveries related to ancient human societies.

What makes the “Earth’s Children” series unique in the genre of historical fiction?

The “Earth’s Children” series stands out in the genre of historical fiction due to its immense scope, spanning thousands of years, and its meticulous attention to detail in depicting the daily lives, customs, and struggles of prehistoric humans. Auel’s vivid descriptions and extensive research have made the series a landmark work in the genre.

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