The Plains of Passage
By Jean M. Auel
Ayla and Jondalar have left the Mamutoi Mammoth Hunters and are now trekking all the way back to Jondalars home land. They travel with two horses Whinney and Racer and a wolf named Wolf in the Mamutoi language which was likely something like 'Biraej' as ancient Ukraine was settled by people who spoke Old Ossetic or something similar though that's never brought up in the book. I guess then Racers name would actually be something like 'Spor' since France before it was France was Celtica.
Pondering on etymological likelihood of names aside this journey is a long one and almost feels like a series or stories and trials that they face along the way, all whilst trying to hurry to reach and cross a dangerous glacier before the end of winter.
If you can get through that (I admit I skimmed these parts, there's only so many times you can be told that a region has chamois or musk oxen) the plot is a delightful play that borders on the comfortable side of a comedy of errors. They experience everything from losing their supplies to crossing dangerous rivers. If it was a full blown comedy of errors I wouldn't be able to read this but it's definitely a series of tales of 'here's an issue, how are you going to deal with it?'.
This book contains, nudity, sex, extreme misandry, mutilation, rape, violence and death.
This in my opinion has one of the better plot lines in the series but it's also one of the most difficult reads to get through due to extensive descriptive prose. Also Ayla and Jondalar continue to work out the kinks in their relationship. You feel like telling Ayla to get a move on and telling Jondalar to use a little empathy. I tip my hat off to Ayla, I could never date a man like Jondalar, he'd drive me nuts.
I give this book 7.8/10
It's a difficult read but I enjoyed every interraction had along the way. It's a pity that 30% of the book can be skipped/skimmed as being a literary quagmire of indepth descriptions of how many regions grow willow, alder or conifer. If I was forced to read every single word of this book it would have a lower rating but you tend to be able to read the first few words of a paragraph and be able to know if it's a continuation of the descriptive prose, or if it's begun a bit of storyline.
In the other books in this series, it's just as in depth but they only travel to maybe three different locations at most. This keeps the plotline proceeding in an engaging manner with enough description for each region to be able to easily hold it in your minds eye. In 'The Plains of Passage', Jondalar and Ayla travel from the Ukraine to France via horseback. Yeah I'll give you a moment to imagine all the dozens of different kinds of regions and landscapes they went through. Yes Auel described every single on of them in loving detail.
Should you ever read this book, please let me know your thoughts on the S'Armunai. It's my favourite section of the book.
Also was disappointed in future books that we never see Guban and Yorga again. Opportunity lost.