Earth's Children is a series of historically accurate, cinderblock-sized, softcore pornography novels written by author Jean Marie Auel which take place in Prehistoric Europe. It follows the tribulations of Ayla, an intrepid gal who roams the Earth and stumbles on many great adventures, and Jondalar, a bloke who has no choice but to stumble on many great adventures if he wants to keep up with his chick.
There are six books in the series: The Clan of the Crazed Bear, The Volley of Horses, The Mammoth Shunters, The Pains of Massage, The Elders are Stoned and The Land of Fainted Braves. The first book was published in 1980 while the last of them became available in 2011, leading the readers who didn't die in the 31 year interval to sigh in relief when it was announced that the sixth and final novel would come out. Now the excruciatingly slow author can finally have a fatal car accident without any risk of spoiling the ending, they thought.
The story being 7,563 pages long, it is very likely that the reader who manages to finish the last book will not even remember how the whole thing started, so here's a reminder.
The Clan of the Cave Bear
At the beginning of it all, Ayla's native tribe have a little problem when the Earth cracks open to engulf them, and the orphaned baby girl is discovered by flatheaded Neanderthals. She is raised by the Clan and subjected to both love and numerous shenanigans since she doesn't look anything like them, being a Cro-Magnon type human. For example, at the tender age of 6, she is shunned by the majority of the tribe when she comes back to the cave with a mammoth's hock, because females are not allowed to hunt. However, they gradually accept her hunting skills since she saves a baby from certain death by hyena's teeth with a shuriken she carved out of rock.
She also possesses special mystic powers passed on by her crippled adoptive father Creb, who introduces her to mind travel and the use of the LSD ancestor. Whether they actually see other places that are hundreds of miles away with the power of concentration or are just high as kites is left for the reader to decide. She also discovers fire and invents the sling while she's at it, totally dominating the newly formed NSL (National Sling League).
She's eventually forced to flee the Clan following Creb's death, leaving her child behind since the rapist who impregnated her becomes the chieftain. He simply cannot bear to have a woman who is smarter than himself in the gang. To add insult to injury, she's always defeating him in the deer dismembering time trial. Ayla resists the urge to impale the bloke, takes her spear, sling and bras and safely storms off, knowing that the Clan ain't nothin' to fuck with.
The Valley of Horses
In this book, Ayla finds a valley to live in, domesticating a filly whose mom she slaughtered and a fierce lion who responds to the name "Kitty". Before the cave becomes a zoo, Jondalar comes along. When Ayla finds him lying on the ground, he is in a horrible state: he has the flu, a sore back and his femur sticks out. She puts the horse to contribution and hauls Jondalar to the geological defect she calls home. Thanks to her medicinal knowledge, she replaces Jondalar's femur with a mammoth's tusk, stitches everything up and makes a torch with the now useless bone. After a bit of recovery and a lot of poppy smoking, his leg works as good as new just as expected.
When the drugs wear off, Jondalar explains that he was on a Great Safari with his brother when a lion attacked them both, killing his sibling. Ayla remembers in horror that Kitty came back to the cave with a human arm in his mouth on that day, but she thinks it's better to forget this detail, while Jondalar fondly tickles the belly of the huge beast.
Jondalar cures Ayla of her manphobia, since they officially become boyfriend/girlfriend after the first blowjob (an ancient tradition you may not have been aware of) and he decides to take her on a visit to meet his folks on the other side of Europe. In those days, it seems people walked from France (formerly Frogland) to Ukraine and back to France only to see if they were going to survive the ordeal. Jondalar is as happy as a clam since Ayla is just gorgeous and very promiscuous.
The Mammoth Hunters
They both decide to leave the valley behind and they abandon Kitty since he is now a 2,000 pound flesh-eater who is a little scary at times, but they bring along the horse. They encounter the Mammoth Hunters tribe on their way to Jondalar's village and decide to take a 700 pages break there. 99.9% of the book takes place inside a mammoth skin hut, where the characters constantly bicker about the horrible mammoth stew that the chieftain's wife overcooked, since she totally forgot it on the huge fire. They realize that a pool of mammoth stew takes an enormous time to eat for a 15 person tribe, but they just can't let it go to waste since it is winter. Therefore, the only sound floating in the air at lunch time is "CRIC-CRAC-CROC", which is the noise produced by the people trying to chew the burnt meat without breaking their teeth. After a couple of days of this diet, they start looking at Ayla's horse with a renewed interest.
A love triangle ensues between Ayla, Jondalar, and Ranec the African bone carver. As Jondalar is jealous of Ranec for no good reason, Ayla decides to give him one and sleeps with the black guy, despite the nigh impossibility of a black person appearing in prehistoric central Europe without being stabbed and eaten as some strange beast. Note that Ayla is using the contraceptive pill she just invented, therefore being 40,000 years in advance on pharmaceutical research.
Anyway, Ayla charms the tribe, is adopted as a member, and then dumps them all to continue on her adventures with Jondalar after their reconciliation. She could have just settled down, living happily ever after, and letting the series come to its logical conclusion in a reasonable page count. But no, adventures were to be had and some sexual positions had not yet been discovered by Humanity.
The Plains of Passage
They finally reach the Great Mother River that leads to Jondalar's people and invent the boat. They are happily going down the stream when they come across a village where the lads' jaws hit the floor at the sight of the boat, the tamed horse and Ayla's boob crack. They stop there for dinner and while eating BBQ pterodactyl wings, the village's elder, Gwantha Nahmo, informs them that some men have been taken prisoners by a tribe to the north. Eager to take another 800 pages detour, Ayla and Jondalar offer their help and head for the wretched place.
This ordeal certainly was a feminist conspiracy by the author, since all the men in the village are being held captive and kept in a state of starvation. The women are running the place like a bunch of Nazis and their leader, Attoria, is certainly somewhere in Hitler's family tree. She is hell-bent on castrating the males of the village and Jondalar is no exception. Ayla kills that dictator to free the men, but sadly, she had time to reproduce and they let her offspring live, therefore being indirectly responsible for the Holocaust.
The whole tribe celebrates their liberation with a huge party and after having too much to drink, smoke and snort, Ayla forgets to take her "pill" before being banged by Jondalar, leaving the reader to wonder if she's going to get pregnant since they talk about this in vague details for about sixty pages. Another 200 pages are slowly passing by before we learn that yes indeed, she's got a baby in there. By the end of the book, even her horse seems to be saying "are we there yet?"
After writing this one, Auel decided to take a 10 year sabbatical to recuperate after getting her tonsils removed, leaving readers to rage and age.
The Shelters of Stone
Only the most hardcore readers make it this far, and they can be compared to intellectual marathon runners. That being said, the basic synopsis of the book is as follows:
The crew finally makes it to Jondalar's village, and Ayla is welcomed by all, especially Jondy's folks. Ayla brought along some gifts for them out of the stuff she invented, including pearl earrings, and the Ayla's Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machine®. There is however a slight problem when Ayla mentions that she has been brought up by flatheads (people of the Clan, remember the first book you read six months ago?). Some in the tribe are highly racist and some people are downright nasty. Ayla resists the urge to make flatheads out of them and calmly insists that the Neanderthals are not animals. The shaman then replies that all living beings on Mother Earth are animals. Someone else makes a point to stir the controversy by making a totally unrelated remark, pointing out that the Earth is flat, another screams in rage that this is heresy, the Earth is round and the Sun is orbiting around it. A tomahawk to the face interrupts the last bloke mid-sentence and a wild brawl ensues where half the village is killed. Luckily, most of the casualties are the racists who had a grudge against Ayla, so everything is now fine and dandy.
After this minor event, Ayla gets acquainted with Jondalar parents, who happen to be the leaders of the village. They are quite glad that Ayla sparked the skirmishes, since the elections are coming and all the members of the Rhinoceros Party died in the battle, and are enthusiastic about Jondalar's wish to unify their destiny. Much to her new friends' delight, Ayla invents ecstacy and crystal meth for the upcoming marriage rituals, but being pregnant, she makes a point to be reasonable and takes only acid.
She finally gives birth to a healthy baby girl by the end of the book, aptly named Jonayla. Since every occasion is good enough to throw in a party with massive drug use, here we go again. To any modern day observer, it now seems quite obvious why Prehistoric people had a low life expectancy.
The Land of Painted Caves
Having made it through the first five books without dying of sexual over-exertion, Ayla now turns 26, meaning that Auel, writing the 6 novels over a 31 year span, actually delivered the books slower than her characters were aging. Brace yourself here, the final doorstopper is actually thicker than a dictionary with its 1,564 pages. It was actually written in three parts so that librarians could actually haul it on the store shelves without risking back injury.
Ayla goes on various expeditions with her newly found friend and spiritual leader Mary Zelandonia, and enters a number of "painted caves" to acquire knowledge from the Ancients, who smothered the rock walls with teachings of wisdom and various techniques about how to pick up chicks. She comes across some paintings that inspire her to come up with various useful inventions. There is an image of a man hitting a round oliphant dong with a wooden stick: she invents baseball. There is also a representation of a man being struck by a lightning bolt: she invents electricity. She finally stumbles across a painting of a bunch of lovely cats and people fornicating: she invents the Internet.
The book concludes with Ayla graduating to hard drugs and going on a really bad imaginary trip with Creb (who, being reasonably smart, died during the first book). The novel does not end with Ayla having a final, fatal run-in with, say, a lion. This leaves the series open for further installments, much to the dismay of the readers who were fooled into believing they would finally be able to let go of this story, move on with their life and read something else.
Wish fulfillment on the part of Auel, Ayla is a tall, blonde, blue eyed, beautiful, goddamn Mary Sue who gets away with everything and can do anything. She is experienced yet innocent, wise yet naïve, strong yet vulnerable. Her totem is the Cave Lion, the strongest of all totems. She is better than anybody with the sling, domesticated the horse and the lion, and is single-handedly responsible for setting the course of human evolution in its current path. Yes folks, she's that awesome. Ayla also has a penchant for inventing things. During the course of the novels, she was able to invent fire, the wheel, nuclear physics, the Internet, electricity, Lego and pr0n. Underwear, however, eluded her.
After being aggressively solicited for years by movie producers to allow them to make a movie based on the novels, Auel finally caved in at about the same time the first floor of her house did under her weight. She was of course invited at the premiere and after watching 30 minutes of the most boring and stereotypical caveman/cavewoman grunting session that had absolutely nothing to do with her novels, she proceeded to beat the producer to a pulp. The con man had promised her that it was going to be the best movie ever. She went on the record saying she didn't want to be associated with that piece of crap, so the movie was an absolute box office flop. To be honest, the film didn't do justice at all to the published story. The producer is currently in jail, waiting for a jury to decide if he will get the electric chair or the firing squad.