The Plains Of Passage (Earth's Children® Series) - Jean M. Auel, Sandra Burr Summary: Ayla and Jondalar travel to his homeland.

Oh, you wanted me to be a bit more specific? Okay.

Summary: Ayla and Jondalar head out to his homeland (because while Ayla is supposed to sacrifice her newfound family, the Mamutoi, Jondalar can whine and complain to get what he wants). They stumble upon Mammoths having sex, the Sharmudoi and the Ramudoi who almost immediately induct Ayla into their clan, a group of Femi-Nazis (aka, what many conservatives think Feminists are), a couple of Clan people, the Losadunai, and Jondalar's sister's people (whoever the hell they are). In the meantime, Ayla and Jondalar cross rivers, have lots of sex, chase after their damn animals, and talk about where babies come from (actually, it's Jondalar doing a lot of the wondering where babies come from--Ayla must have FINALLY come to grips with it).

NOTE: I listened to this on audiobook and am a super lazy person, so I am not even bothering with getting all the new names of peoples and places correct.

This book is a perfect example of what happens when you write a novel and don't have a plot to fill it. The book becomes just a volume of people going here and there, bumping into random tribes for the hell of it, and studying in excruciatingly textbook detail the flora, fauna, and biosphere.

In some ways, this book is actually an improvement over the (in my opinion) dismal "Mammoth Hunters". We don't have any stupid Big Misunderstandings, we get to meet a lot of new peoples and customs, and journey stories are some of my favorites. That said, this book is something that I definitely couldn't call "Mammoth Hunters" and that is BORING.

Journey stories are inherently tough and not everyone is going to like them. I think a good journey story is more than just Character X has to get to Point B. A good journey story will have the CHARACTER undergo a change, some sort of trial, in the midst of the external journey. By the time the character reaches the end of the journey, something should have been learned, characters should grow, knowledge should be gained.

None of that happens in this journey. At the end of the book, Ayla and Jondalar are the same vapid, 1-Dimensional Mary Sue and Marty Stu they were when they started this book. Ayla is perfect in every way; every man wants to tumble in the furs with her, she is the most gorgeous woman ANYONE has ever seen (and EVERYONE will let you know it), everything she does is perfect and wonderful, she can win over people who hate the Clan and anyone associated with it, she can heal a rape victim with a few sympathetic words, she can save a village from Femi-Nazis but come out without having shed ANY blood, she teaches people how to sew (a skill that apparently NO ONE ELSE is capable of learning), and she can get ANY tribe to almost immediately want to have her join their clan. If Ayla has a flaw, it is the "I don't realize how beautiful I am" curse (yes, even after all this time with Jondalar and the bajillion men saying how gorgeous she is, Ayla still thinks she is "Big and Ugly"). Or the "I have to save someone no matter the cost" (but don't worry--unlike in "Clan of the Cave Bear" where Ayla wasn't able to save someone, Ayla never has that problem here!). Both of them are Mary Sue checkmarks in my book.

What makes Ayla more irritating in my book isn't her Mary Sue qualities (although, damn, they were enough to make me want to hit something). What makes me upset is how Ayla falls for the trap so many novels featuring a female protagonist fall for: Ayla gives up EVERYTHING for Jondalar. She even jokes, "Well, I belong to you, don't I?"



This sort of "I can't live without a man" behavior needs to stop. YESTERDAY. I am sick and tired of reading about a woman who subjects herself to a man and lets him make all the decisions. And Ayla, who is a strong, independent, competent woman, has done that. She wanted to stay with the Mamutoi, her adopted people. But Jondalar whined so she left with him for HIS people. She wanted to stay with the Ramudoi and the Shamudoi, but again, Jondalar whined and Ayla followed him. Time and again, Ayla wants one thing and Jondalar complains. He usually gets his way (the only exception is with the animals--why can't Ayla have that same stubborn attitude in other things???), and Ayla is the one who has to suffer.

But is Jondalar ever shown to be the bad guy? Does Ayla ever hate him because he always gets what he wants?

Of course not! We can't have conflict in these unbelievably perfect, nonexistent people! We can't have Jondalar and Ayla fight about going back to his home because that's what he wants. Then Ayla and Jondalar wouldn't be a Mary Sue and Marty Stu--and we CAN'T have psuedo-realistic people in this book.

Jondalar is the same meathead from "Valley of the Horses" with more equipment in his underwear than personality. You could say that he does change in this book, that he goes from cringing about "Flatheads" to acknowledging the Clan people as being humans. But that conflict was pretty much resolved last book with his "Big Fight" with Ayla. To me, Jondalar is a whiny b!tch. I don't exactly know what Ayla likes about him; his job seems to be complain about how slow their progress is, have great sex with Ayla (uh, doesn't this WASTE time that could be spent traveling???), and get captured. The ONLY scene in this ENTIRE SERIES so far that has shown why Ayla could like him is a scene early on where Jondalar picks some berries for Ayla and gives them to her. For once, Jondalar takes some time to think of what Ayla wants, goes out of his way to get it, and gives it to her selflessly. And even though I don't like Jondalar as a character, this scene was legitimately sweet, and the ONLY time I've ever felt ANY chemistry/romance between the two.

As for other characters, there are so many and they appear so infrequently, I couldn't keep them straight. Furthermore, they come in two classes: those that love Ayla and Jondalar immediately and those that don't and have to be won over with a few choice words from our Mary Sue. Who cares what their names are, if they are basically the same character from that clan a few hundred pages ago?

The same goes for the multiple tribes of people we see. There are some duplicates from "Valley" (the Shamudoi and the Ramudoi), but honestly, with the way all the tribes immediately love Ayla and Jondalar, there is nothing that makes them stand out. I had hoped for more excitement as Jondalar met some of these people back in "Valley", but nope, it is all an Ayla-brag-fest. "Let me show you my spear-thrower...Let me show you my thread puller." "ZOMG, Ayla, you totally rock! Join our tribe, pretty, pretty please?!" It would have been much more interesting had Ayla and Jondalar spent more time with just a few, instead of hopping along like they did.

And here is where I get into one of my other pet peeves about this book: the repetition. Oh. My. God.



It is positively un-frakkin' believable how much repetition is in this book. Everything from the last three books is repeated numerous times. Here are just a few items that Auel repeats constantly:

Where do babies come from? discussions
Ayla and Jondalar having sex
Bodily functions (Ayla's "moontime", people taking a crap or p1ss)
Inventions Ayla or Jondalar have made
Someone mentioning Ayla's "strange" accent
People who almost immediately adore Ayla
Repeating Ayla or Jondalar's story
Someone being in awe of the tamed animals
Someone being surprised at how good with kids Wolf is

And this is only just a sampling. There is a LOT of repetition in this book. At one point, you just want to scream, "ENOUGH ALREADY!"

Another problem that Auel continues to have is mistaking research for story. Now, I appreciate all the research she has done in these novels to make them realistic. I just don't want to READ that research when I am in the middle of a story. It's bad enough when Jondalar and Ayla are journeying, and Auel plunks down a huge textbook description of glaciology. But it is even WORSE when our Perfect Couple are in the middle of what is supposed to be an intense scene (such as being in the middle of the Femi Nazi camp), and they stop to trade secrets on making ceramics (no, I am not kidding!) or have long conversations explaining every last detail of a character's backstory (again, not kidding), all the while diffusing ANY tension from having Ayla and Jondalar in enemy camp. This is FICTION; fiction benefits from good research, but research thrown into the story DOES NOT make a good story.

I need to take the time to talk about one of the worst "plots" in this book. During their year-long journey (and, damn, does it feel like a year long journey for me!), Whinny is kidnapped by wild horses (no, I am not joking). Ayla and Jondalar go after her (after spending WAAAAAAY too much time talking about what they will and will not take). As they try to rescue her, Jondalar is kidnapped by the Wolf Sisters, aka the Femi Nazis. He is thrown into a holding area, not fed, treated with disdain, etc. and Ayla must save the day.

I absolutely hate this scene. Not only because Attaroa, the leader of the Femi Nazis, is lamest leader ever (I still have NO CLUE why ANYONE followed her, especially since it seemed like NO ONE liked her), but also because this Femi Nazi seems to say, "You are right: women can't be trusted to lead. Only men can lead."



Uh, excuse me? Wasn't this supposed to be an empowering novel about how great and awesome and respected women are? I'm certainly not seeing it. In fact, every time I turn around, I see one more instance of where a woman is brought down to build up a man. And, lemme tell you, I hate it.

Auel could have made a nice, poignant, SUBTLE case against patriarchy, but instead, it comes off as support for male dominance. Women can't lead--they would only throw men in a concentration-like camp. Women can't lead--they are crazy and can't unite people and can't be focused. It's disgusting and revolting, and this was THE WORST PART of the book for me.

The ONLY good thing from this whole debacle was the comparison of Attaroa and Ayla's backstories and a glimpse of what Ayla might have become. Of course, much of it was undermined by the Men >>>> Women. And the totally Deus Ex Machina ending (which I totally predicted).

And, because I haven't dedicated near enough time to it, the sex. Jondalar and Ayla have sex. A LOT. They are ALWAYS in the mood to have sex (even when Jondalar is b!tching about how slow their progress is), and their sex is almost ALWAYS the same sex scene (with the same purply prose). Jondalar does this, Ayla screams that, blah, blah, blah. I have never read sex scenes that were more boring or more unsexy. If I could have skipped them on my audiobook, I would have.

Oh and if human sex isn't your thing, don't worry: the book basically opens to Mammoths having sex. Yeah, that was what was missing from the last three books...NOT!

This book was so boring. I really had to push myself to finish it--particularly past the atrocious Femi Nazi parts. Sure, there was stuff that wasn't as bad as "Mammoth Hunters", but there were other parts that just made me want to do physical damage.

And because I love you guys so much...here are some choice quotes from the book. Enjoy!

"With a great overflowing burst, they felt a release that matched the fiery sun in its glowing flame as it shot its last bright rays into the valley and dropped behind the dark and rolling clouds outlined in burnished gold."

[While Jondalar is going for a p!ss] "[Ayla] was standing in shimmering water up to her knees, in a beam of sunlight coming through an opening in the trees, bathing in brilliance that lighted her hair into a golden halo and gleamed off the bare, tanned skin of her supple body...for a moment, his strong feelings of love for her overpowered him..."

"...She looked at him...saw...a familiar, compelling look in his intense blue eyes, then noticed the shape of his manhood changing."

"The medicine woman could not have said that she had administered a drug that inhibited the parasympathetic nervous system and paralyzed the nerve endings"

"Ayla started to call Wolf then hesitated. As usual, he had lifted his leg in the bushes. She had taught him to go outside of dwellings, but not to use special places."

"The smell and the buzzing flies made its purpose obvious, but the sunlight shining through the trees and the sound of birds made it a pleasant place to linger when she found herself moving her bowels as well. She saw a pile of dried moss on the ground nearby and guessed its use. It was not at all scratchy and quite absorbent."

[While on the edge of a cliff] "The bulge in his groin, felt through the thicknesses of fur lined winter parkas, seemed warm, and his lips on hers gave her an indescribable sense of wanting him never to stop."

[When looking down a cliff edge] "Jondalar felt the familiar tightening in his groin as he stared down at the steep drop off"

“Though she didn’t call [certain diseases] “deficiency diseases” or have a name for the vitamins and trace minerals the herbs contained or even know exactly how they worked, she carried them with her in her medicine bag and she regularly made them in the teas they drank…though she did know they were beneficial and had a good idea of when and how to use them.”

[Jondalar, considering babies for the billionth time] "Could it happen so fast? [Thonalan] spent only one night with her. Was his spirit so potent? Or if Ayla is right, could Thonalan have started a baby growing inside Felonia with the essence of his mandhood that night?"

[Jondalar, again] "Whatever it is, a man’s spirit or the essence of his manhood, Thonalan has proved the strength of his. But what about me? Is my essence or spirit potent enough [to make babies]?"

"If you take Jondalar for a hot soak, it will relax the strength right out of his manhood. And it may take a couple of hours before it can stand up again."

[Ayla to Jondalar, grinning] "Well, I belong to you, don't I?"

"Ayla expelled her breath explosively."