The Valley of Horses by Jean M. Auel


Now a beautiful young woman, Ayla leaves the safety of the Clan who raised her and sets out alone on an epic journey of discovery. A hostile land of glacial cold, terrifying beasts and intense loneliness awaits her, and her need for human companionship and love remains unfulfilled. But in the Valley of Horses she finds refuge and contentment. There, fate brings her a stranger, Jondalar, and Ayla is torn between fear and hope – and carried away to an awakening desire that will shape the future of mankind.

Well it’s safe to say I’m well and truly hooked on this series. I’ve spent the past week racing through books 2, 3 and 4.

In this the second book Ayla has left the Clan and must begin to forge a life for herself away from everything she once knew and among her own kind. At the same time we meet Jondalar, on a journey with his brother along the Great River.

Look I knew exactly what was going to happen. It’s obvious from the blurb and I’ve read the blurb’s for all the later books which give a pretty clear indication of the direction the plot is going in. I spent most of the book therefore waiting for them to meet. It took at least 3/4’s of the book to get to that point. The story however needs that to let us get to know the characters. We knew Ayla the child, but not Ayla the mature woman and we needed to become acquainted with both Jondalar and the Other’s (homosapiens) in general in order to set up the rest of the series.

Overall I found this one just as compelling as the previous book. Once Ayla and Jondalar meet there are many sweet moments as they learn to communicate with each and get to know each other. Much of their behavior will be familiar many. We all at some point have spent time furtively glancing at someone we like, quickly looking away before they see, agonising over what they mean by something they say or do. Ah the awkward teenage years. My one complaint remains the same as the previous book. While this series is evidently well research, and the explanations of the environment or how a tool works are informative, I maintain that they interrupt the flow of the narrative. A notes section would work better I feel.

This is an enjoyable series but approach with caution. It is extremely addictive.


4 star


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