The Shelters of Stone
By Jean M. Auel
Ayla and Jondalar have finally reached their destination. The Ninth cave of the Zelandonii in Ancient France somewhere around Périgueux (Probably Abri de la Madeleine). Jondalar is greeted with open arms and welcomes and Ayla is accepted into the family, but not exactly the cave. Arriving with two tame horses and a wolf makes her appear powerful and dangerous, openly admiting to being raised by flatheads (neanderthals) which the zelandonii people think of as animals, makes it hard to judge her status.
By merit of her 'magical' powers with animals and her insane number of skills and gifts and knowledge that she and Jondalar bring with them from their travels, Jondalars family and the Zelandoni (religious practitioner and healer) manage to place Ayla into an extremely high status. In between her having won Jondalars heart, being a foreigner put into a place of high status and being raised by flatheads, Ayla without having done anything against them has managed to get some vicious enemies who hate her for simply being herself.
This is a story of social politics and about having the strength the rise above those who would bring you down. Ayla gets adopted by the Zelandonii so she doesn't have to continue introducing herself as Ayla of the Mamutoi. She becomes pregnant and ties the knot with Jondalar. with dozens of tails of happiness and woe.
Meanwhile Zelandoni sees her as a promising student and begins grooming her to become an acolyte, despite Ayla having a deepset fear of the spirit world and just wanting to be a wife, mother and healer.
This book contains sex scenes, gore, medical procedures, death & ritualistic drug use.
This book is interesting and I love every moment of it but this book and the last book after this are definitely for the people who have been reading since book one. You are so invested in Ayla as a character that the social politics in this book become very heart felt. You live through it with her.
However for those coming in part way through who weren't there for her childhood or weren't there when she found Jondalar, this book would be socio-political drivel and little more than highschool drama. Please don't read this book without reading all the previous four, because without it, it's impossible to have built up the understanding and empathy needed to become invested.