The Land of Painted Caves is Jean M. Auel's last book in the Earth Children series. This historical fiction series started with Clan of the Cave Bear first published in 1980. I'm kind of glad that I wasn't old enough to read the books as they were published. I am quite the impatient person and the relatively short amount of time I waited for the Land of Painted Caves to come out was grueling.
I'm not sure who pays attention to these sorts of things but I think this has to be in the running for the longest running series from start to finish:
Clan of the Cave Bear - 1980
Valley of Horses - 1982
Mammoth Hunters - 1985
Plains of Passage - 1990
Shelters of Stone - 2002
Land of Painted Caves - 2011
The Land of Painted Caves starts out where The Shelters of Stone left off. Ayla, Jondalar and Jonayla are living together with the ninth cave. The story follows Ayla as she finishes her training for the Zelandonii. I felt like the book focused more on the social interactions of the group than on the physical demands of living as hunters and gathers. While still good, I also felt like the book repeated so much of the previous ones (the memories, songs, rituals) and could have done without some of the redundancy. The plot also paralleled so much of the Mammoth Hunters plot that I thought "are we really going to have this drama again??"
Even with my complaining, I'm glad to have read Land of Painted Caves. I'm still in love with Ayla and all the knowledge she has of being a hunter and gatherer as well as her skills as a medicine woman. Reading the books makes me want to take a wilderness survival class or grow more herbs in my garden....or maybe I would already know these things if I hadn't have gotten myself kicked out of girl scouts as a child. Dang, I should have thought that through a little more.