The Valley of Horses by Jean M. Auel, Audio narrated by Sandra Burr
Earth’s Children Series #2
Fiction, Published 1982
Challenges: Audio Book Challenge, Historical Fiction Challenge
Read March 2011, Unabridged – 21 hrs
Story: 5/5, Narration: 5/5
In The Valley of Horses, Ayla, the unforgettable heroine of The Clan of the Cave Bear, sets out on her own odyssey of discovery away from the nurturing adoptive family and friends of the Clan. She is in search of others like herslef and in search of love. Driven by her intelligence, her curiosity, and her destiny, she explores where the Clan never dared to travel and encounters a hostile world of awesome mystery, glacial cold, terrifying beasts, and intense loneliness in which survival itself is a constant battle.
Sharing a hidden valley with a herd of steppe horses, Ayla finds a unique friendship with animals as vulnerable as herself and ingeniously discovers the complex skills needed to survive – skills no Clan member was ever able to master. But none of her experiences prepares her for the emotional turmoil she feels when she rescues a young man – the first of the Others she has seen – from almost certain death. Torn between her desire for human companionship and her fear of the unknown Others, she struggles against her deep attraction to the handsome Jondalar. It is Jondalar who teaches her the meaning of true friendship and love.
I enjoyed listening to Ayla’s long journey away from the Clan and her many struggles and triumphs. As we learned at the end of The Clan of the Cave Bear, Ayla has been cast out of the Clan and all the people she grew up with and loves thinks she truly is dead. So she must leave and follow her adoptive mother’s advice to find the Others, people of her own kind. She walks a long way and decides she must find a more permanent home for the coming winter since she has not seen any people. She finds a valley with a cave high above and sets up camp. The descriptions of her making tools, killing animals for furs and meat, are truly amazing. She constantly struggles with her complete isolation and makes friends with the most unlikely of her kind.
Jondalar and his brother, Thonolan, are on a rite of passage journey, one that takes them far away from their home, in search of the end of the Great Mother River. It is a long journey, as they discover many kinds of people often join their families for meals and hunting parties.
The narration switches back and forth between Ayla and Jondalar’s stories until they finally meet and I really enjoyed both of their stories. Usually, for me, when the story flip flops between two points of views, there is usually one that I like more than the other and can’t wait until it flips back, but that was not the case for this story. I just could not wait until Ayla and Jondalar’s paths crossed, but this did not happen until at least 2/3 of the way through.
One of my favorite aspects of these books are the maps. I love maps and whenever a books has one, I often find myself flipping back to it to see where the characters are in relationship to where they’ve been.
Side note: I should probably mention, too, that there are a lot of detailed sex scenes throughout these books, so don’t be shocked…