Earth's Children is a series of epic historical fiction novels written by Jean M. Auel set circa 30,000 years before present. There are six novels in the series. Auel had previously mentioned in interviews that there would be a seventh novel, but publicity announcements for the sixth confirmed it would be the final book in the sequence.
The series is set in Europe during the Upper Paleolithic era, after the date of the first ceramics discovered, but before the last advance of glaciers. The books focus on the period of co-existence between Cro-Magnons and Neanderthals.
As a whole, the series is a tale of personal discovery: coming-of-age, invention, cultural complexities, and, beginning with the second book, explicit romantic sex. It tells the story of Ayla, an orphaned Cro-Magnon girl who is adopted and raised by a tribe of Neanderthals and who later embarks on a journey to find the Others (her own kind), meeting along the way her romantic interest and supporting co-protagonist, Jondalar.
The story arc in part comprises a travel tale, in which the two lovers journey from the region of Ukraine to Jondalar's home in what is now France, along an indirect route up the Danube River valley. In the third and fourth works, they meet various groups of Cro-Magnons and encounter their culture and technology. The couple finally return to southwestern France and Jondalar's people in the fifth novel. The series includes a highly detailed focus on botany, herbology, herbal medicine, archaeology and anthropology, but it also features substantial amounts of romance, coming-of-age crises, and—employing significant literary license—the attribution of certain advances and inventions to the protagonists.