The Land of Painted Caves by Jean Auel

I conducted a straw poll recently among booksellers to ask them which book was the most enquired about over their lifetime of selling to the public. Those most recent to the industry (ie since 1997) went for “when is the next  Harry Potter coming?”. The answer, by the way, in case any of you have just arrived from Mars, is “Never – it is all over”.

Of course, those older and wiser, had a different answer. Their answer was “When is Jean Auel going to finally finish her Earth’s Children/Clan of the Cave Bear series?”

Again, in case you have just arrived from Mars, Jean Auel has been writing this series since 1980. She has sold a massive 50 million books world wide. She is the Madonna of popular fiction, only she has been around longer and she doesn’t have to keep re-inventing herself to stay at number one and capture the world’s zeitgeist. According to Warner Bros, Madonna has sold in excess of 200 million albums. Imagine how many books Auel could have sold if she had the same airplay as The Mage!

Well, the most commonly asked question in the book world can finally be answered! Jean Auel is wrapping up the series with the world wide release on March 29 of The Land of Painted Caves and you can pre-order here at a very special, highly discounted price. As a completely trivial aside, readers in Australia will have a half day head start on their US counterparts.

Earth’s Children is no ordinary series. This will be an international publishing event.  With The Land of Painted Caves, Auel gives fans the finale they’ve been looking for. She does not disappoint as she continues the story of Ayla, Jondalar, and their little daughter Jonayla.

What the publisher says:

In this page-turning continuation of the beloved saga, Ayla is training to become a Zelandoni, one of the community’s spiritual leaders and healers. Ayla becomes the acolyte to the Zelandoni for the Ninth Cave and begins the series of intensive journeys that are part of the sacred training. But as she struggles to find a balance between her calling and her duties as a new mother, her pursuits begin to take a toll on her relationship with Jondalar.

Once again Jean Auel combines her brilliant narrative skills and appealing characters with a remarkable re-creation of the way life was lived thousands of years ago. The terrain, dwelling places, longings, beliefs, creativity, and daily lives of the Zelandoni are as real to the reader as today’s news. The Land of Painted Caves is a brilliant achievement by one of the world’s most beloved authors.

In preparation for the juggernaut, I recently re-read The Clan of the Cave Bear. You have to know that I read a lot of books and I am getting a bit jaded and cynical. I also haven’t got the time to get caught up in a series, especially when there is always another new book that I need to be familiar with.  So I spent a weekend with our heroine Ayla and was instantly transported to a cave way back when at a time when humans were splintering into groups according to their mastery of the basics of speech, the dexterity of the fingers and the rotational capacity of their shoulder joints.  I really had to struggle to return to the 21st century. What I wanted to do was bury myself in the next four books. I am so primed for the finale on March 29 it is not funny.

In case you are wondering who is going to get into this, apart from people who were there in 1980 and their now grown up kids, I can tell you that there is enough feisty heroine stuff going on to keep the teenage girl paranormal fans happy. And enough action for their male counterparts who might otherwise be reading versions of the quest sagas. The appeal of the series is that it is not too young and not too old, not too girlie and not too testosterone charged, not too much fantasy and not too factoid. As Goldilocks says, it is just right.

Want proof that she strikes a nerve? When Jean Auel answered our Ten Terrifying Questions in the week leading up to Christmas it went off. Have a read – she was wonderfully generous in her responses and avoided the marketing spin.

What else to tell you? The cover of the first print run of The Land of Painted Caves, a gorgeous hardback edition, will include a jacket embedded with an augmented reality chip. What that means is that you can hold the book in front of any screen with a camera and the feisty Ayla will appear out of no where as a 3D image – magic!

And, just as a further enticement to pre-order through Booktopia, we will have five Earth’s Children collections (volumes 1 – 5)  to give away to people who place their order before the release day of March 29.  Send your order number to jeanauel@booktopia.com.au and answer the question “If you were the first person in the world to actually speak, what would be your first sentence?”

We are going to have a bit of fun with this. We will post the answers here from time to time and announce the recipients of the backlist packs in the first week of April.

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