Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The Land of the Painted Caves - Jean M Auel

I have always loved the Earth's Children's series and the final book in the series came out this year and enjoyed it like I did all the others.

Valley of Horses was still my favourite of the books, with all her taming of the animals, finding the firestones and meeting Jondalar.

In this book, Ayla is progressing with her Zelandoni training and goes through many trials and new experiences.  There is a lot of cave touring, looking at cave paintings and singing the Mother's song (which unfortunately I found a little bit dull).  Then there is a conflict at the end with Jondalar which is not that great a conflict, and is resolved after a few chapters with a near death experience with Datura.  The loss of her baby with her calling to the Zelandoni and also the revelation that babies are created when a male and female copulate are also interesting points in the book.  However there are no other animals tamed or new inventions - this book focuses on the spiritual and interpersonal relationships between humans and the culture of the cretaceaous Man.

The herbal medicines that are used in the book I've always found interesting.  I know some herbal remedies - obviously willow bark for analgesia as it contains salicylates, peppermint for stomach ailments, coltsfoot for lung ailments and coughs.  So I thought I should look into datura a little more.

Datura contains tropane alkaloids such as scopolamine, atropine and hyoscyamine in their seeds and flowers.  In the book they used the root.  The effects are typically anticholinergic giving a delirium rather than a hallucination.

Wild carrot seeds have been used to prevent conception.  Pennyroyal as an abortifacient or menstrual stimulator - I read about this in lots of other books as well.

The other thing that I wish there was more of in this book was between The Others and Flatheads.  I remember in the Plains of Passage (when Jondalar and Ayla were going home) that they came across a Flathead couple and Ayla spoke to them the Clan way.  I liked that.

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