Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Land of the Painted Caves

Written by: Jean M. Auel

First line: The band of travelers walked along the path between the clear sparkling water of Grass River and the black-streaked white limestone cliff, following the trail that paralleled the right bank.

Why you should read this book: If you read the first five novels in the Earth's Children series and are dying to know what happens to Ayla and Jondalar, that would be a decent recent to pick up this monstrosity. If you are interested in reading pages and pages of detailed descriptions of prehistoric cave paintings (which go on for so long that even the main character, whose joie de vivre helps her feel excitement for pretty much everything in the world, admits that she is bored of cave paintings) or willing to slog through hundreds of pages of repetitious exposition with little action, conflict, or character development to learn one researcher's opinion on the ephemera of prehistoric religion, those would also be reasons to tackle this tome. I cannot think of another reason why anyone would want to read this book, which is badly in need of editing and lacks most of the graphic sex scenes, emotional turmoil, and ancient innovation that made the previous novels so delightful.

Why you shouldn't read this book: If you cut out every passage that summed up plots or relationships detailed in the previous five books or earlier in this one, it would be about fifty percent shorter. If you also cut out the tedious greetings, various characters' impressions of the protagonist's accent, dull hunting scenes, long-winded explanations of climate, flora, and fauna that has been explained in the other books, and the description of all the painted caves, you'd be left with a book that was about eighty-five percent shorter and reasonably interesting, although still mostly predictable and really poorly written.

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