By this time, followers of the adventures of Ayla--Annie Oakley-cum-Edison-cum-Joyce Brothers of the Ice Age--have presumably overcome amusement at the nutty anachronisms of the dialogue and Cro-Magnon pop-psych ("You have a right to be angry. You have a right to cry") and sink happily into the solid action dramas--all given spine by Auel's meticulous library reportage on the Age's creatures, climes, terrains, and what is generally known or posited about our ancestors who loped through northern Europe. In this latest tale--the fourth in the Earth's Children series--Ayla and her blond man Jondalar, of the clan Zelandonii, head out on a tremendous trek back to his people, taking with them two Ayla-trained horses and an Ayla-reared wolf. In all kinds of danger and weather, they'll travel through plains, steppes, river crossings, mountains, and glittering glaciers. Meanwhile. the Friendlies met by the pair and their tame animals (which cause a sensation everywhere) implore them to stay after Ayla shows off her healing skills and helpful companionship; but the travelers move on--through lowland plains, through treacherous highlands of caves and sinkholes, by a valley where they just miss a flood (thanks to one of Ayla's prophetic dreams), over a river in a near-fatal crossing Later, however, Jondalar is captured by a clan of fierce women, who cripple and enslave men, and the ruler is gleefully observing Jondalar naked and strung up on a pole, when. . .zingo! (another thrilling rescue!). Jondalar and Ayla straighten out the strange society, and Ayla does a psycho work-up of the leader whose husband didn't "make her feel wanted." Then on to crowning danger and delight--the glacier, "the monstrous bastion of ice." Throughout the journey, man and woman exchange histories, expertise, thoughts, and make love with (carefully detailed) gusto. Bound for best-seller glory.