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Auel returns us to the earliest days of humankind and to the captivating adventures of the courageous woman called Ayla. Their odyssey spans a beautiful but sparsely populated and treacherous continent, the windswept grasslands of Ice Age Europe, casting the pair among strangers. Some will be intrigued by Ayla and Jondalar, with their many innovative skills, including the taming of wild horses and a wolf; others will avoid them, threatened by what they cannot understand; and some will threaten them.
But Ayla, with no memory of her own people, and Jondalar, with a hunger to return to his, are impelled by their own deep drives to continue their trek across the spectacular heart of an unmapped world to find that place they can both call home. Auel is an international phenomenon.
Her extensive research has earned her the respect of archaeologists and anthropologists around the world.
She has honorary degrees from four universities and was honored by the French government's Ministry of Culture with the medal of an "Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters". She lives with her husband, Ray, in Oregon. The woman caught a glimpse of movement through the dusty haze ahead and wondered if it was the wolf she had seen loping in front of them earlier.
She glanced at her companion with a worried frown, then looked for the wolf again, straining to see through the blowing dust. Toward her left, the vague outlines of several conical tents could just be seen through the dry, gritty wind. The wolf was stalking some two-legged creatures that had begun to materialize out of the dusty air, carrying spears limed directly at them. The woman signaled her horse to a stop by tightening a thigh muscle, exerting a subtle pressure that was so reflexive she didn't even think of it as controlling the animal.
Ayla heard a menacing growl from deep in the wolf's throat and saw that his posture had shifted from a defensive stance to an aggressive one.
He was ready to attack! She whistled, a sharp, distinctive sound that resembled a bird call, though not from a bird anyone had ever heard. The wolf gave up his stealthy pursuit and bounded toward the woman astride the horse.
The wolf trotted beside the dun yellow mare as the woman and man on horseback slowly approached the people standing between them and the tents. A gusty, fitful wind, holding the fine loess soil in suspension, swirled around them, obscuring their view of the spear holders. Ayla lifted her leg over and slid down from the horse's back. She knelt beside the wolf, put one arm over his back and the other across his chest, to calm him and hold him back if necessary.
She could feel the snarl rumbling in his throat and the eager tautness of muscles ready to spring. She looked up at Jondalar. A light film of powdery dirt coated the shoulders and long flaxen hair of the tall man and turned the coat of his dark brown mount to the more common dun color of the sturdy breed. She and Whinney looked the same. Though it was still early in the summer, the strong winds oft the massive glacier to the north were already desiccating the steppes in a wide band south of the ice.
She felt the wolf tense and strain against her arm, then saw someone new appear from behind the spear holders dressed as Mamut might have dressed for an important ceremony, in a mask with aurochs's horns and in clothes painted and decorated with enigmatic symbols.
The mamut shook a staff at them vigorously and shouted. Leave this place! The mamut dashed toward them shakini the staff again, while Ayla held back the wolf. Then the costumed figure began chanting and dancing, shaking the staff and high-stepping toward them quickly, then back again as though trying to scare them off or drive them away, and succeeding, at least, in frightening the horses. She was surprised that Wolf was so ready to attack, wolves seldom threatened people. But, remembering behavior she had observed, she thought she understood.
Ayla had often watched wolves when she was teaching herself to hunt, and she knew they were affectionate and loyal to their own pack. But they were quick to drive strangers away from their territory, and they had been known to kill other wolves to protect what they felt was theirs. To the tiny wolf pup she had found and brought back to the Mamutoi earthlodge, the Lion Camp was his pack; other people would be like strange wolves to him.
He had growled at unknown humans who had come to visit when he was barely half-grown. Now, in unfamiliar territory, perhaps the territory of another pack, it would be natural for him to feel defensive when he first became aware of strangers, especially hostile strangers with spears.
Why had the people of this Camp drawn spears? Ayla thought there was something familiar about the chant; then she realized what it was. The words were in the sacred archaic language that was understood only by the mamuti. Ayla didn't understand all of it, Mamut had just begun to teach her the language before she left, but she did gather that the meaning of the loud chant was essentially the same as the words that had been shouted earlier, though cast in somewhat more cajoling terms.
It was an exhortation to the strange wolf and horse-people spirits to go away and leave them alone, to go back to the spirit world where they belonged.
Speaking in Zelandonii so the people from the Camp wouldn't understand, Ayla told Jondalar what the mamut was saying. Of course? They're afraid of us. That's why they're threatening us with spears. Ayla, we may have this problem every time we meet people along the way. We are used to the animals now, but most people have never thought of horses wolves as anything but food or pelts," he said. It took them a while to get used to the idea of having the horses and Wolf around, but they got over it," Ayla said.
Racer was tossing his head and trying to back away from the advancing mamut, who was still shaking the staff and chanting loudly. Whinney was behind the kneeling woman, with her head down, touching her.
Ayla used neither ropes nor halters to guide her horse. She directed the horse entirely with the pressures of her legs and the movements of her body. Catching a few sounds of the strange language the spirits spoke, and seeing Jondalar dismount, the shaman chanted louder, pleading with the spirits to go away, promising them ceremonies, trying to placate them with offers of gifts.
Racer was alarmed and trying to rear, and the mamut with her staff and shouting didn't help. Even Whinney looked ready to spook, and she was usually much more even-tempered than her excitable offspring. Jondalar called out when the mamut paused for a breath. Maybe they were spirits who were playing tricks, but at least they had been made to speak in a language everyone could understand.
Finally the mamut spoke. How do we know you are not trying to trick us? You say she is of the Mammoth Hearth, but where is her mark? She has no tattoo on her face. He said I was of the Mammoth Hearth. Though he speaks well enough, it is with the tones of a foreign tongue. You say you are Mamutoi, yet something about the way you speak is not Mamutoi. Ayla did have an unusual quality to her speech. There were certain sounds she could not quite make, and the way she said them was curiously unique.
It was perfectly clear what she meant, and not unpleasant-he rather liked it-but it was noticeable. It wasn't quite like the accent of another language; it was more than that, and different. Yet it was just that: an accent, but of a language most people had not heard and would not even recognize as speech.
Ayla spoke with the accent of the difficult, guttural, vocally limited language of the people who had taken in the young orphan girl and raised her. There must be more to it than that. But she fed him cut-up meat and broth, waking up in the middle of the night as you do with a baby. When he lived, and started to grow, everyone was surprised, but that was only the beginning. Later, she taught him to do what she wished-not to pass water or make messes inside the lodge, not to snap at the children even when they hurt him.
If I hadn't been there, I would not have believed a wolf could be taught so much or would understand so much. It's true, you must do more than find them young. She cared for him like a child. She is a mother to that animal, that's why he does what she wants. He'd been eyeing the spirited stallion, and the tall man who was controlling him.
You can teach them if you find them young and take care of them. It takes time and patience, but they will learn. Shop 1 Books 2. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Members save with free shipping everyday! See details. Overview Jean M.
The Plains of Passage
During much of their journey, they follow the course of the Great Mother River the Danube or Donau from its delta at the Black Sea to its headwaters in present-day Germany. Along the way, Jondalar became skilled at controlling Racer , and he continued to refine the lighter spears that he used with the spear-thrower that he had invented in the The Valley of Horses. Book art by Geoff Taylor. Jondalar was focused on reaching the glacier in time. If they did not reach it before spring, it would be too dangerous to cross the glacier, and they would be forced to take a detour through Clan territory. During the first leg of the journey, the young lovers crossed the vast steppes on their way to the delta of the Great Mother River. This part of the trip was relatively uneventful.
The Plains of Passage (Earth's Children #4)
Look Inside. Jean M. In a brilliant novel as vividly authentic and entertaining as those that came before, Jean M. Auel returns us to the earliest days of humankind and to the captivating adventures of the courageous woman called Ayla. With her companion, Jondalar, Ayla sets out on her most dangerous and daring journey—away from the welcoming hearths of the Mammoth Hunters and into the unknown.