The story of Ayla begins when, as a five-year-old orphan, she is adopted by the Clan, a group of Neanderthals. Initially she inspires surprise, then wariness and finally acceptance by the Clan. She is cared for by its medicine woman, Iza, and its wise holy man, Creb. But she makes an implacable enemy of the group's future leader, Broud. He will do all he can to destroy her - but Ayla is a survivor. Jean Auel's imaginative reconstruction of pre-historic life, rich in detail of language, culture, myth and ritual, has become a set text in schools and colleges around the world.
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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 NickersonFrom the Publisher:
The stunning epic that stirred the imagination of millions. Here is a novel of awesome beauty and power. A moving saga about people, relationships and the boundaries of love. Through Jean Auel's magnificent storytelling, we are taken back to the dawn of mankind and swept up in the wonderful world of a very special heroine, Ayla. Her enthralling story is one we all can share. A natural disaster has left young Ayla alone, wandering, fending for herself in an unfamiliar land. One day, she is discovered by the Clan of the Cave bear, men and women far different from her own people. Tall, blond, blue-eyed Ayla is a mysterious stranger to the Clan and at first they mistrust her and cast her out. But as she grows to know them and to learn the ways of the Clan, she is welcomed. And as she leads them in their struggle for survival, the Clan come to worship Ayla. For in her blood flows the future of humanity.
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