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The Clan of the Cave Bear: Earth's Children, Book One Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 1984

1,103 customer reviews
Book 1 of 6 in the Earth's Children Series

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Editorial Reviews Review

When her parents are killed by an earthquake, 5-year-old Ayla wanders through the forest completely alone. Cold, hungry, and badly injured by a cave lion, the little girl is as good as gone until she is discovered by a group who call themselves the Clan of the Cave Bear. This clan, left homeless by the same disaster, have little interest in the helpless girl who comes from the tribe they refer to as the "Others." Only their medicine woman sees in Ayla a fellow human, worthy of care. She painstakingly nurses her back to health--a decision that will forever alter the physical and emotional structure of the clan. Although this story takes place roughly 35,000 years ago, its cast of characters could easily slide into any modern tale. The members of the Neanderthal clan, ruled by traditions and taboos, find themselves challenged by this outsider, who represents the physically modern Cro-Magnons. And as Ayla begins to grow and mature, her natural tendencies emerge, putting her in the middle of a brutal and dangerous power struggle.

Although Jean Auel obviously takes certain liberties with the actions and motivations of all our ancestors, her extensive research into the Ice Age does shine through--especially in the detailed knowledge of plants and natural remedies used by the medicine woman and passed down to Ayla. Mostly, though, this first in the series of four is a wonderful story of survival. Ayla's personal evolution is a compelling and relevant tale. --Sara Nickerson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Imaginative, exciting."
--The New York Times Book Review

"Jean Auel has performed a minor miracle."
--San Francisco Chronicle

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Earth's Children (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 495 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Books (September 1, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553250426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553250428
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.4 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jean M. Auel is one of the world's most esteemed and beloved authors. Her extensive factual research has earned her the respect of renowned scientists, archaeologists and anthropologists around the globe.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

246 of 267 people found the following review helpful By Eric Wilson on August 21, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The upcoming publication of Auel's fifth book has renewed my interest in the EarthChildren series. I'm now re-reading the books and reviewing the first, which I originally read almost 18 years ago. Am I allowed to reminisce like this? Am I out of bounds? Well, don't try to stop me. This book is still clear in my mind after nearly two decades. In the early 80's, I thumbed through it at an Albertson's checkout line, finished the first chapter, and told my parents about it. I received it a week later for my birthday...and loved every minute of the story. Jean Auel's narrative powers swept me into a past rich and alive with people, creatures, smells, and sights that are immediately familiar, yet breathtakingly foreign. That's what first caught my attention. Then I began to care about Ayla, the skinny, pale child caught in an earthquake. I followed her story with keen interest and ached over her insecurities and alienation. This is a story about people with all the feelings and emotions of you and me. And though some tried to ban the book for one particular scene of forced sex, I found it in no way glorifying the act. In fact, as a teenager, it made me more aware of a female's struggle in a male-dominated society. I'll never forget the experience--indeed, that's what it was!--of reading this novel. To go back and relive the story of Ayla all over again is a treat. I can't wait for "The Shelters of Stone." Only rarely does an author create a world so rich and believable that we could almost call it home.
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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Beth Kristen Nehme on October 7, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
To celebrate the upcomming release of Jean M. Auel's new Earth Series release, The Land of Painted Caves, due March 29th, 2011, we have a bargain kindle release of the first book in the series.

If you have not read this series, you are in for a treat. The novels are set 18,000 year ago at a time when the Cromagnon (us) and Neanderthal people coexist. Although certain poetic license is taken with the series, the novels are thouroughly reseached and have received a great deal of praised for their accuracy.

Ayla is a five-year old Cro-Magnon girl who is suddenly orphaned and left homeless by an earthquake that destroys her family's camp. She is found, near death, by a group of Neanderthal people, the "Clan" who are looking for a new home after their cave is destroyed in the same earthquake. A brother and sister, Iza, the medicine woman of the group, and Creb, the "Mog-ur" or shaman, adopt the young girl. The first book in the series focuses on Ayla's experience growing up amoung the Clan where she never quite fits in because of the differences in her nature. She lacks the Clan's strenght and 'memories' but is quicker to learn and to adapt to new circumstances.

If this doesn't sound like your cup of tea - at least try the sample anyway. This is a truely extraordinary series that no one should miss. Fans wait patiently for years as each new book is researched and written, and then savor it as an extraordinary treat.

Other books in the series are:
The Valley of Horses ... Ayla leaves the clan to find others like herself and meets Jondular, the love of her life
The Mammoth Hunters ... Ayla's first experience with a group of her own people
The Plains of Passage ... Ayla's and Jondular's journey back to Jondular's homeland
The Shelters of Stone ... Ayla's and Jondular's experiences when they arive back at his home.
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45 of 49 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 11, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This amazing book remains one of my favorites ever. This might sound 'sappy', but it's true! With beautiful writing, a well-researched setting, an engrossing plot, and lovable, if debatably human, characters, what more could one ask for in a novel? I normally read fantasy, and this exotic, nearly made-up setting sometimes qualifies at that -- but this is simply better than just about every fantasy novel out there!
Set in Ice Age Asia, this chronicles the life of a woman named Ayla. It begins with her as a young child, orphaned, who is adopted into a clan of Neandertals. Just about every novel I've read including Neandertals has them act human -- but these people are individual and distinguished from their Cro-Magnon contemporaries, without acting in the slightest like caveman savages. Jean Auel explains their larger brain mass, factoring it into the personality of the members of the 'Clan of the Cave Bear' (describing all of this race, not merely the clan Ayla is adopted into).
The young Ayla is different from the Clan people -- while not exactly 'smarter', she is far more creative. Not only that, but she's a tomboy. She defies Clan tradition by acting male -- something Clan females would never have considered. Yet the Clan members are no less special for their traditional actions. Iza, the clan medicine woman, and Creb ( a 'mog-ur', or shaman), are wonderful characters. And Ayla is amazing, throughout her life in the book.
Giving away the plot in this would be pointless. But "The Clan of the Cave Bear" -did- make me cry at the end. I don't see how anyone couldn't cry. I've cried at it every time I've read it. It's just that beautiful.
I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone. If you haven't already ordered so! It's great.
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The Clan of the Cave Bear: Earth's Children, Book One
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