The Valley of Horses (Earth's Children, Book 2)
Jean M. Auel
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This unforgettable odyssey into the distant past carries us back to the awesome mysteries of the exotic, primeval world of The Clan of the Cave Bear, and to Ayla, now grown into a beautiful and courageous young woman.
Cruelly cast out by the new leader of the ancient Clan that adopted her as a child, Ayla leaves those she loves behind and travels alone through a stark, open land filled with dangerous animals but few people, searching for the Others, tall and fair like herself. The short summer gives her little time to look, and when she finds a sheltered valley with a herd of hardy steppe horses, she decides to stay and prepare for the long glacial winter ahead. Living with the Clan has taught Ayla many skills but not real hunting. She finally knows she can survive when she traps a horse, which gives her meat and a warm pelt for the winter, but fate has bestowed a greater gift, an orphaned foal with whom she develops a unique kinship.
One winter extends to more; she discovers a way to make fire more quickly and a wounded cave lion cub joins her unusual family, but her beloved animals don’t fulfill her restless need for human companionship. Then she hears the sound of a man screaming in pain. She saves tall, handsome Jondalar, who brings her a language to speak and an awakening of love and desire, but Ayla is torn between her fear of leaving her valley and her hope of living with her own kind.
about spending periods of time alone? Periods of silence when they could not speak to anyone? Periods of abstinence and fasting? “You live here alone, don’t you?” Ayla glanced at him again, surprised to see a look of wonder on his face—as though he were seeing her for the first time. For some reason, it made her conscious of her discourtesy again, and she quickly looked down at the broth. Yet he had seemed unaware of her indiscretion. He was looking around at her cave and making his mouth
exciting. But so is riding slow. It makes me feel good to ride Whinney.” She turned back to her task again, then stopped. “Would you like to try?” “Try what?” “Riding Whinney.” He looked at her, trying to determine how she really felt about it. He had wanted to try riding the horse for some time, but she seemed to have such a personal relationship with the animal that he didn’t know how to ask tactfully. “Yes. I would. But will Whinney let me?” “I don’t know.” She glanced toward the sun to
hunting small animals with his friend, Grev—Durc is younger but he’s taller than Grev. He always was tall for his age—he gets that from me. He can run fast; no one can run faster. And he’s good with the sling. And Uba loves him. She loves him as much as I do.” Ayla didn’t notice the tears falling until she took a breath that was a sob, and she didn’t know how she found herself in Jondalar’s arms with her head on his shoulder. “It’s all right, Ayla,” the man said, patting her gently. Mother at
it—yet you pass her by and go pick out some little mouse sitting in a corner. Why?” “I don’t know. Sometimes the ‘mouse’ just thinks she’s not beautiful, because she has a mole on her cheek or thinks her nose is too long. When you talk to her, there’s often more to her than the one everybody is after. Sometimes women who aren’t perfect are more interesting; they’ve done more, or learned something.” “Maybe you’re right. Some of those shy ones blossom out, after you’ve paid attention to them.”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to come in here laughing like that. It’s just …” “Either I’m in the next world, or you’re a donii who’s come to take me there. No earthly woman could be so beautiful. But I can’t understand a word you’re saying.” Jetamio and the Shamud both turned toward the wounded man. He was looking at Jetamio with a weak smile. Her smile left her face as she kneeled beside him. “I’ve disturbed him! How could I be so thoughtless?” “Don’t stop smiling, my beautiful donii,” Thonolan