The Mammoth Hunters

Hunters prepare to drive mammoths into an enclosure in the glacier
The prey is in sight

The Mammoth Hunters is about a couple who almost miss each other because of their failure to communicate.

What makes the novel unusual is that Jean M. Auel sets the story in Eurasia during the Ice Age.

The couple are Ayla, a huntress, healer, and animal trainer, and Jondalar, an explorer whom she nursed after he was injured near the valley where she lived alone.

Ayla is traveling with Jondalar to his home when a group of mammoth hunters invite them to spend the winter in their camp.

Seeing Ayla’s shyness with other people makes Jondalar worry that she would never fit in with his tribe back home.

By the time Ayla is accepted for her skills, Jondalar has withdrawn so that Ayla thinks he doesn’t love her anymore.

While readers wait for the totally predictable ending, Auel overwhelms them with descriptions of flora and fauna, instruction in making flint knives, and techniques for tanning hides.

Hunters is more interesting its immediate predecessor, The Valley of the Horses, because it has more people in it.

However, Auel’s descriptions of prehistoric politics and tribal prejudices have a 21st century vibe that feels out of place among the mammoth bones.

The mammoth hunters by Jean M. Auel
Crown Publishers. ©1985. 645 p.
1985 bestseller #1; my grade B-

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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