Home > Literature, Reviews > Review of The Valley of Horses by Jean M Auel

Review of The Valley of Horses by Jean M Auel

While the first book in the Earth’s Children series had its flaws, I nevertheless enjoyed it enough that I wanted to read more. The second book in the series recapitulates its predecessor’s flaws and, mostly, builds on its good points.

Ayla has been cast out from the Clan and has to find her way in the world, and eventually to the Others – others like her. The book follows her continuing story, but it also introduces a second protagonist, Jondalar. I didn’t like Jondalar’s parts of the story all that much. While Ayla is an easy character for me to empathise with, Jondalar is less so, and this exacerbates the problems with Auel’s writing. The flatness and the hyper-descriptiveness of the text can be put up with when Ayla is centre-page, but it they become wearying when we’re reading about the uberly manly Jondalar.

If the quality of the writing was all these books had to offer, they wouldn’t be worth reading. But what makes Earth’s Children so interesting is the insights into prehistoric life and, more importantly, the emotional impact of some aspects of the story. The first half of the novel was tedious for me, but once it got going, I found Ayla’s struggles and successes, despair and joy to be often quite moving. The last few pages were also a bit dull for simply being too happy.

So having been initially disappointed by The Valley of Horses, in the end I was reasonably satisfied with it, and will probably read the next book, The Mammoth Hunters.

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