YMMV: Earth's Children

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is Jondalar really just someone that needed to find the "right" person to handle his "deep" emotions, as well as maybe maturing a little more than he did while flint-knapping with his father? Or is he a jealous, controlling, possessive, emotionally unstable man-child who could only find a lasting relationship with someone who has been programmed from childhood to subsume her own wants and needs to those of a man?
    • His most satisfying relationships have been: Zolena (the woman who taught him how to have sex), girls during their First Rites ceremonies (newly-pubescent girls who are culturally programmed to look at him as a special one-night-stand) and Ayla (who was taught that her own sexual needs were not important and that she should open her legs whenever a guy wants to screw her).
    • Whenever Ayla does anything that really asserts her independence, he goes positively ape-shit on her. It starts in Valley of the Horses when she stays out later than he thought she ought to be one night and just escalates to insane proportions during Mammoth Hunters. It doesn't really go away in Plains of Passage or Shelters of Stone, though it tones down a little because Ayla is more dependent upon him while they're traveling in areas she's unfamiliar with and once they arrive at his cave and she has to learn the ropes of Zelandonii life. But in Land of Painted Caves, Jondalar actually screws around with his former fiancée Marona because Ayla devotes more time to her zelandonia training than she does to him. Somehow, though, his affair is less objectionable than Ayla being practically date-raped by the guy that Jondalar considers responsible for his break-up with Zolena so many years earlier, and he treats it like Ayla was cheating just as purposely as he did with Marona.
    • Before Jondalar met her, Ayla traveled alone from Clan territory on the peninsula to a secluded valley on the steppes. She was emotionally devastated from the loss of her adoptive family and son, and yet she not only managed to successfully keep herself alive during that journey, but she also scouted a place to live, hunted and gathered and worked hard enough to create and store everything she would need to survive a winter, fended off predators, discovered a new way to make fire, raised a filly and a lion cub to fully grown healthy animals that responded to her commands, and then Saved. Jondalar's. Life. All on her own with no help from anyone, based on nothing more than the skills she learned from the Clan and her own wits. And yet, Jondalar treats her like she's an idiot child who can't do anything on her own or she'll get killed. Fear for her safety is a pretty paltry justification for ignoring her abilities to that extent, and he does it more than once.
    • The very idea that Ayla might want to have sex with someone other than him, let alone might want to have a relationship with someone who sees her for who she is and loves her because of it, not in spite of it as Jondalar seems to, sends him into a BSOD. At the point in Mammoth Hunters when Ayla and Ranec get engaged, Nezzie (the male camp leader's wife) actually wonders whether or not Jondalar's just going to go out and drown himself in the nearby river. Strangled by the Red String? Or just unable to accept the idea that Ayla might decide, upon discovering that he's not the only man in the world, that he's really not all that and a bag of chips?
  • Author Filibuster: In Plains of Passage, there's a Scenery Porn segment just like any other which suddenly segues into several pages of telling the reader the despoiling of nature that's going to be committed by the people of the future is, in fact, wrong on a spiritual level.
  • Canon Sue: Ayla; Jondalar as well, to a lesser extent. This is somewhat justified considering that both of them have traveled alone or with extremely limited support for a number of years, and you'd have to turn into some sort of God-Mode Sue to survive that in the Ice Ages. But throwing Fixer Sue and Black Hole Sue traits on Ayla is largely agreed to have gone too far. Your heroine does not have to be perceived as the incarnation of the Great Earth Mother to be interesting, nor does she need to have singlehandedly influenced the course of human evolution. The technologies they invent together are each described with a plausible thought process, but the sheer number of them is only believable if you take them to be allegorical characters.
    • The real kicker is not the fact that she thinks she's ugly, which is because of the beauty standards she was raised in, but the fact that she manages to invent the wheel and many medicinal practices all by herself and gets guys fawning over her left and right.
      • She also domesticated the first dog, cat and horse in... a yearish? So yeah, still very Sue.
      • She can also learn languages in under a day and her only enemies are people considered jerkasses by everyone else, as well.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Many readers prefer to think the series ended with "Plains of Passage", book four. The fact that it took twelve years for the fifth book to be published and that Seasonal Rot kicked in pretty hard with that installment certainly contributes.
  • First Installment Wins: Even hardcore fans of the whole series agree on this.
  • Info Dump: Increasingly as the series progresses. Auel rhapsodizes about the locales she sets the action in, as well as the ways her characters, as allegories for the areas' real ancient inhabitants, lived off the land and adapted to their environment. The flora and fauna are also described in detail, as well as their uses in both medicine and as food, to the point where readers of George Martin's A Song Of Iceand Fire series might wonder if he takes cues from her about how to describe a meal. But her acknowledgments had to be moved from the beginning of her books to the end because they got exponentially lengthy, and the research she did has often been cited as one of the main reasons for the ever-expanding delay between sequels. Ultimately, her painstaking devotion to including as much of her research as possible in the story has become something of a detraction from the later novels, especially Land of Painted Caves, with readers complaining that her focus on the backdrop has caused the advancement of the plot and development of her characters to suffer.
    • She also does this a lot when it comes to retelling aspects of the story that has come before. Granted that by the time she got to Shelters of Stone, there was a lot of material to remember, but Auel would often rehash the same things more than once within the space of a few pages, both in a character's thoughts and in conversations that seem to just cover the same ground over and over and over. One wonders if she wasn't sure people would remember what they'd read before or if it was a case of Readers Are Morons dragging the story down.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Brukeval
  • Narm: "HE'S MAKING MY BABY" sent the scene from disturbing to hysterical.
  • Seasonal Rot: Many readers considered Shelters of Stone to be the weakest book of the series until The Land of Painted Caves was released and lowered the bar.
  • Schedule Slip: The letter of the trope is averted: Auel never missed release dates because she just didn't announce any. But the delays between books grew quite a bit.
  • Sequel Gap: The final three books were released in 1990, 2002, and 2011.
  • Sequelitis: Readers tend to think this started with The Valley Of Horses.
  • Squick: Some of the sex scenes have this effect on some of the readers.
  • Title Drop: The number of times the words "shelters of stone" get used in the book of the same name, it might almost count as Arc Words if it wasn't so irritating that she felt the need to constantly remind readers that her characters are living in caves... again.