Ayla, one of the most remarkable and beloved heroines in contemporary fiction, continues to explore the world and the people around her with curiosity, insight, and, above all, courage.
As the story opens, Ayla, Jondalar, and their infant daughter, Jonayla, are living with the Zelandonii in the Ninth Cave a shelter of stone. Ayla has been chosen as an acolyte and has embarked on the arduous task of training to become a spiritual leader. The wisdom that Ayla gained from her struggles as an orphaned child, alone in a hostile environment, strengthen her as she moves closer to leadership of the Zelandonia.
Whatever the obstacles, Ayla's inventive spirit produces new ways to lessen the difficulties of daily life: searching for wild edibles to make delicious meals, experimenting with techniques to ease the long journeys the Zelandoni must take, honing her skills as a healer and a leader. And then, there are the Sacred Caves, the caves that Ayla's mentor the Donier, the First of the Zelandonia takes her to see. These caves are filled with remarkable art paintings of mammoths, lions, aurochs, rhinoceros, reindeer, bison, bear. The powerful, mystical aura within these caves sometimes overwhelms Ayla and the rituals of initiation bring her close to death. But through those rituals, Ayla gains A Gift of Knowledge so important that it will change the world.
Spellbinding drama, meticulous research, fascinating detail, and superb narrative skill combine to make "The Land of Painted Caves" a captivating, utterly believable creation of a long ago civilization and serves as an astonishing end to this beloved saga.