Picks and Pans Review: The Mammoth Hunters

updated 12/16/1985 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/16/1985 01:00AM

by Jean M. Auel

This is the third in a series of novels called Earth's Children, following The Clan of the Cave Bear and The Valley of Horses. The central character once again is Ayla, the Barbie doll of prehistoric fiction. Her prowess on horseback amazes men, and they are utterly awed by a deadly weapon she has invented. They also like her looks: "Her hair, thick and long with a natural wave, was a lustrous deep gold, like a field of hay blowing in the wind: her eyes were large and wide-spaced and framed with lashes a shade darker than her hair.... When his eyes reached her full breasts and inviting hips, they took on a look that disconcerted her." Fortunately a friend in an earlier book has prescribed a couple of herbs that work even better than today's pill, because Ayla likes being "pleasured" by Jondalar, the friendly expert at such fooling around. ("He knew her body better than she did, and he enjoyed his knowledge and skill.") When he gets sulky, she fools around with a handsome dark stranger. The big scene, a huge mammoth hunt, doesn't happen until page 587, and then it seems almost perfunctory. Adventure in this book takes a back seat to the old will-she-or-won't-she-get-her-man soap opera plot. Forget evolution; this series is getting worse. (Crown, $19.95)

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