YMMV / Earth's Children

     Alternative Character Interpretation 

Jondalar

  • Is Jondalar really just someone that needed to find the "right" person to handle his "deep" emotions, as well as maybe maturing a little more than he did while flint-knapping with his father? Or is he a jealous, controlling, possessive, emotionally unstable man-child who could only find a lasting relationship with someone who has been programmed from childhood to subsume her own wants and needs to those of a man?
    • His most satisfying relationships have been: Zolena (the woman who taught him how to have sex), girls during their First Rites ceremonies (newly-pubescent girls who are culturally programmed to look at him as a special one-night-stand) and Ayla (who was taught that her own sexual needs were not important and that she should open her legs whenever a guy wants to screw her).
    • Whenever Ayla does anything that really asserts her independence, he goes positively ape-shit on her. It starts in Valley of the Horses when she stays out later than he thought she ought to be one night and just escalates to insane proportions during Mammoth Hunters. It doesn't really go away in Plains of Passage or Shelters of Stone, though it tones down a little because Ayla is more dependent upon him while they're traveling in areas she's unfamiliar with and once they arrive at his cave and she has to learn the ropes of Zelandonii life. But in Land of Painted Caves, Jondalar actually screws around with his former fiancée Marona because Ayla devotes more time to her Zelandonia training than she does to him. Somehow, though, his affair is less objectionable than Ayla being practically date-raped by Laramar.
    • Before Jondalar met her, Ayla traveled alone from Clan territory on the peninsula to a secluded valley on the steppes. She was emotionally devastated from the loss of her adoptive family and son, and yet she not only managed to successfully keep herself alive during that journey, but she also scouted a place to live, hunted and gathered and worked hard enough to create and store everything she would need to survive a winter, fended off predators, discovered a new way to make fire, raised a filly and a lion cub to fully grown healthy animals that responded to her commands, and then Saved. Jondalar's. Life. All on her own with no help from anyone, based on nothing more than the skills she learned from the Clan and her own wits. And yet, Jondalar treats her like she's an idiot child who can't do anything on her own or she'll get killed. Fear for her safety is a pretty paltry justification for ignoring her abilities to that extent, and he does it more than once.
    • The very idea that Ayla might want to have sex with someone other than him, let alone might want to have a relationship with someone who sees her for who she is and loves her because of it, not in spite of it as Jondalar seems to, sends him into a BSOD. At the point in Mammoth Hunters when Ayla and Ranec get engaged, Nezzie (the male camp leader's wife) actually wonders whether or not Jondalar's just going to go out and drown himself in the nearby river. Strangled by the Red String? Or just unable to accept the idea that Ayla might decide, upon discovering that he's not the only man in the world, that he's really not all that and a bag of chips?
      • To be fair, Jondalar is actually a teenager at the start of the series. He's stated to be around eighteen when he starts out on his journey in The Valley of Horses, meaning he's around 20 when he first meets Ayla. Therefore, could his emotional outbursts be partly explained by hormones and a still-developing brain?
    • It’s been speculated by some readers that Jondalar may possibly have Borderline Personality Disorder, due to certain behaviours matching some of the symptoms. Common signs or symptoms of borderline personality disorder include:
      • Inappropriate or extreme emotional reactions: Pretty much Jondalar in a nutshell. He becomes irritated, impatient and angry quite easily and states himself that he feels his anger is uncontrollable at times. He’s also been known to become aggressive or violent when angered (the incident with Madroman when they were both teenagers is a prime example). His relationship with Ayla is very emotionally intense as well (not though always in a negative way), be it arguing with her or making love to her.
      • History of unstable relationships: The vast majority of Jondalar’s relationships are passionate, but short-lived. His partners tend to find him too intense whilst he has difficulty connecting to many of them on a deeper emotional level.
      • Persistent fear of abandonment and rejection: He gets extremely jealous if other men pay attention to Ayla and becomes utterly despondent when they break up in the third book. Losing her seems to be one of his greatest fears.
      • Impulsive, risky or self-destructive behaviours: He left to go on a long journey with his brother on a whim, abandoning his other plans. He doesn’t really embark on self-destructive behaviours, though he does mentally beat himself up a lot.
      • Persistent feelings of emptiness or isolation: At the start of the series, he seems to be wandering aimlessly through life, not understanding his goal or purpose, and feeling misunderstood and unable to truly bond with romantic/sexual partners.
      • Intense mood swings: He can go from the extremes of very happy and excitable to downright depressed and back again in a matter of minutes, depending on the circumstances, and has moods that can last for days on end. He also becomes anxious easily.
      • Unstable/distorted self-image: He expresses a lot of self-hatred at times, sometimes brooding over for it hours or days.

Other

  • The nature of Ranec and Ayla's relationship, specifically in regards to Ranec. He is far more accepting of Ayla initially, but is that because he just overlooks or ignores her flaws? He repeatedly refers to her as "perfect", compares her to his people's goddess and believes she can do no wrong. He's known Ayla for even less time than Jondalar and immediately decides he's in love with her. He never seems to notice how unhappy and reluctant Ayla is about the whole situation, even though everyone else finds it obvious. Thus, begging the question: is Ranec actually in love with Ayla, or is he more in love with the idea of her and overlooks the flaws in their relationship so as not to lose her?
    • There's also some issues surrounding consent in their relationship. Whilst it didn't seem to be Ranec's intention to take advantage of her, Ayla seems to think (due to her Clan training) the first time that Ranec propositions her that she has to go with. Whilst she may find Ranec attractive, she does seem to feel obligated to sleep with him anyway at his request, with Mamut even reminding her at one point that she can actually say no if she wants to.

     YMMV 
  • Anvilicious: Some of the themes or morals of the series are not all that subtle, especially as they tend to be running themes throughout all the books. Of course, given that many of the themes revolve around prejudice and sexism, this may be justified (see Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped).
    • One example that is very prevalent throughout the series from the second book onwards is aversion of Sex Is Evil. With the numerous explicit sex scenes, various mentions of sex, Sex as Rite-of-Passage moments and the link between sex and conception becoming a major plot point eventually, the author really wants to make sure we all know that sex is wonderful and sacred, provided it's Safe, Sane, and Consensual, and nothing to be ashamed of. Heck, most Cro Magnon societies in the series are depicted as believing their goddess gave them sex as a gift simply because sex is awesome!
  • Base-Breaking Character:
  • Broken Base: Aside from the Base-Breaking Characters mentioned above, fans tend to be divided over the later books. Some completely ignore everything after book four due to Seasonal Rot, whilst others still enjoy them even if the quality has dipped in comparison to earlier entries. Then there's the issue with Durc. Some fans hated that his story was never properly concluded, seeing as he was set up as a kind of Chosen One for the Clan. Others actually think this was appropriate, as the series follows Ayla's story, not her son's, and it's made explicitly clear that Ayla and Durc's paths diverged forever when she was banished. The only things readers generally agree on is that the first book is the best and that, regardless of the plot, the sheer amount of research into the Ice Age down to meticulous details is impressive in and of itself.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Of a sort. It is actually acknowleged or hinted at within the series itself that Ayla's revelation about men's role in conception will make big changes to society - not all of them good. But realising that a few thousand years down the track, the Zelandonii and other societies with their positive attitudes towards sex, and women who are respected and equal to men, will be replaced by societies were women are oppressed and deemed inferior, whilst people can be shunned or even killed for engaging in certain sexual practices, even if they're not inherently harmful, is pretty depressing when you think about it. Not to mention the exploitation of natural resources and all the fun stuff like pollution that comes with it...but the sexism and misogyny we know is coming is made all the worse due to the implication that Ayla herself had a hand in it...whilst being completely unaware of it. And all she wanted to do was help people...
  • Fanon Discontinuity: Many readers prefer to think the series ended with The Plains of Passage, book four. The fact that it took twelve years for the fifth book to be published and that Seasonal Rot kicked in pretty hard with that installment certainly contributes.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • There are some fans who wish Ayla had stayed with Ranec instead of going back to Jondalar, citing the fact that Jondalar spends much of the third book being a petulant Jerkass before his Character Development and that Ranec is far more kind and charming towards Ayla, and unconditionally accepts her past with the Clan (whilst half of Jondalar’s problem in the third book is feeling ashamed about Ayla’s past and learning to get over himself).
    • There are even some fans who ship Thonolan and Ayla together, probably because Thonolan is a cheerful Nice Guy who is very open-minded, and so would probably get along well with Ayla. This is a case of Ships That Pass in the Night, as the two never actually meet (the first and only time Ayla even lays eyes on Thonolan is finding and burying his body after he’s mauled by her cave lion).
  • First Installment Wins: Even hardcore fans of the whole series agree on this.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
    • In The Mammoth Hunters, Ayla starts teaching Clan signs to the half-Clan child Rydag. He approaches Nezzie, the woman who raised him, and makes a sign at her. She asks Ayla what it means and when Ayla explains Rydag called her "mother", she's reduced to tears of happiness.
    • In The Shelters of Stone, when Jondalar introduces Ayla to his family, they start asking questions about her past. Ayla looks to Jondalar, as she knows that they may react poorly to finding out she was raised by the Clan and has a 'child of mixed spirits'. Jondalar merely smiles encouragingly at Ayla, showing he is no longer ashamed of her past and will support and stand by her no matter what others think.
    • In the first book, five year old Ayla making an effort to learn the Clan sign for 'mother' so she can make it to Iza, who is at first surprised, then moved by the action.
    • A scene in The Plains of Passage where Madenia secretly watches Ayla and Jondalar make love. Normally, having a young teen girl spying on an adult couple having sex would be pretty weird or a source of Squick. However, when said teen is recovering from a vicious rape and seeing the couple together leads her to realise that what she experienced was only a perverted mockery of a genuinely loving and consensual relationship, it manages to be surprisingly moving.
    • Creb's plea to Brun to allow Ayla to live, combined with Moment of Awesome. He pulls off his cloak to show the stump of his amputated arm, which he usually hides from self-consciousness, and gestures to all his scars and deformities, saying although he's seen as being a broken man (and barely even a man at all because he can't hunt), Ayla still loves and respects him unconditionally, and sees him as being "whole".
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In The Plains of Passage, Ayla is referred to as S'Ayla by the S'Armunai camp she helps out as a sign of respect. Over 20 years later, Far Cry Primal was released, which features a cavewoman protagonist named Sayla; plus, the main character of that game is, like Ayla, The Beast Master who rides around on a big cat. They also both take on a tyrannical tribe run by a deranged woman with a superiority complex who murdered their child when they rebelled.
  • Idiot Plot: The Mammoth Hunters, for some readers. It could be argued that half of the drama involving Ayla and Jondalar's relationship woes could've been solved fairly easily if they'd just...y'know, talked to each other like adults?
  • Iron Woobie:
    • Marthona. The woman has been through a whole heap of crap, but you wouldn't know it just by looking. Her best friend, whom she loved like a sister, turned on her and left without a word due to the man they both loved picking Marthona instead. She never heard from her again, even wondering if she'd died out in the wilderness. Her first husband unexpectedly died of illness only a few years into their marriage, leaving her to take up leadership of the Ninth Cave and raise their baby by herself. Her second marriage ended in divorce, with she and her mate unable to reconcile their differences despite loving each other. She then finds out her youngest son died horribly halfway across the continent, she can't bring his body back for a proper funeral and she finds out that before his death, he'd been depressed due to his mate and baby dying. And in spite of grieving for Thonolan, she still manages to be happy for Jondalar and his fiancee and even helps plan their wedding.
    • Ayla (see The Woobie for details). Her early years were practically a non-stop Trauma Conga Line, but she still hold her head high through it all.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Brukeval just about epitomizes this trope. The reason he's a Jerkass is largely because of how awful is life has been. And this is going back more than one generation. His grandmother was taken in by the Clan after getting lost on a hunting trip and lived with them for several months. When she returned, clearly something bad had happened; she was deeply traumatised and developed a terror of 'flat heads'. It's strongly implied that the poor woman was sexually assaulted during her time with the Clan, due to the cultural barrier - Clan women will have sex with any man who chooses her, Cro Magnon women...not so much. Clan men don't really understand the concept of consent as we do though, so if one tried to 'relieve his needs' with Brukeval's grandmother, expecting her to react like a Clan woman...you get the picture. Anyway, she later died giving birth to a daughter - Brukeval's mother - who was strongly implied to be of mixed spirits. For that, she was otracized as a freak of nature; she also suffered poor health and died when Brukeval was young. So then the poor kid got saddled with his relative, Marona's mother, who was very neglectful. He was bullied by other kids growing up because of his appearance, had no father figure and the shadow of what happened to his grandmother hanging over his head all his life. It's not surprising he grew up to be at least a little jaded about it all. And then at the end of the series, he finds out that the theory that he himself is part Clan - which he has always vehemently denied - is probably true given the revelation about conception. His last on-page appearance is him running off, screaming hysterically that it isn't true and that's he's "not an animal". Ayla herself feels bad for him, criticising the Zelandonii's prejudice towards the Clan for turning "little boys in Brouds".
    • Marona. Though it's more her backstory that makes you feel sorry for her than anything else. Her mother (the same woman who raised Brukeval, so you how this probably turned out) was a lazy, irresponsible parent, letting her daughter do whatever she wanted. The neglect and lack of affection she received probably has a lot to do with her bitchy, attention-seeking behaviour now. Most of her relationships are shortlived and emotionally unfulfilling and she's never had children (it's even suggested she might be barren). Finally, the only positive traits she's seen as having are her beauty and sexuality. That's pretty sad. Not to mention, it's outright stated that her beauty will probably fade in time and that unless she changes her ways, she's going to end up very lonely.
  • Moment of Awesome:
    • When Ayla stands up to Broud at the end of The Clan of the Cave Bear after he curses her with death and gives him this speech: "I'm not dead, Broud. I won't die. You can't make me die. You can make me go away, you can take my son from me, but you can't make me die!"
    • In The Valley of Horses, when Jondalar calls her adopted family "animals"and her son an "abomination" for being of mixed spirits, Ayla rips him a new one, vehemently defending her family, calling him out on his knee-jerk prejudice and hypocrisy for claiming to be more civilised whilst vilifying her son for the way he was born and the Clan for being different and for daring to judge her over being raped by Broud, culminating in her telling him that if she had a choice between living with his people or with hyenas, she'd "choose the stinking hyenas" before leaping onto her horse and galloping off, leaving Jondalar gobsmacked and utterly shamed. He himself states she was "magnificent" in that moment.
    • At the Mamutoi Summer Meeting in The Mammoth Hunters, Baby arrives looking for Ayla, having followed her scent and terrifies everyone. The hunters try to kill him, only for Ayla to intervene, putting herself between them. Then, in front of hundreds of people, she not only fearlessly approaches and strokes the biggest lion they've ever seen, but climbs onto his back and rides off, leaving everyone completely speechless.
    • In the same book, Ayla is furious when she learns that the mamuts won't allow Rydag to have a funeral because he's a hybrid and so considered subhuman. She chews them out - keeping in mind that these guys are the spiritual leaders of the Mamutoi and very powerful - and then proceeds to hold a funeral for him anyway, Clan-style.
    • In the fourth book, the fact that Guban jumped off a cliff and then fought off several men at once whilst his leg was broken to protect his mate.
    • Jondalar punching Charoli in the face and yelling "That's for Madenia!" (she being the girl Charoli assaulted).
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • If he hadn't already crossed it, Broud does in the middle of The Clan of the Cave Bear when he rapes Ayla.
    • Charoli and his gang are viewed in-universe as having crossed it by gang-raping Madenia (especially as she had never even had sex before that), although considering that he'd previously targeted Clan women too, he'd probably already crossed it.
    • Attaroa probably crossed after murdering a group of her own people who were trying to escape her tyranny - including her own child - and only allowing Cavoa to live because of her pregnancy, whilst threatening to kill both her and her baby if the child is a boy.
  • Narm:
    • "HE'S MAKING MY BABY" sent the scene from disturbing to hysterical. For context, the scene occurs near the end of the sixth book and involves a drunken Jondalar screaming the aforementioned line whilst beating the snot out of Laramar after he catches him having sex with Ayla. He believes Laramar will 'start a baby' with Ayla, which partly fuels his jealous rage, but his way of wording it is rather...odd and indeed comes across as funny to some readers, breaking the tension of the scene.
    • In The Plains of Passage, there's a scene where Ayla and Jondalar see a pair of mammoths mating and then get inspired by it to roleplay as mammoths themselves when they 'share Pleasures'.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The rape scene in The Clan of the Cave Bear. As if it weren't bad enough that it's actually happens, it is largely told from Broud's viewpoint, leading the reader to realise just how depraved and sadistic he is. And then you remember this guy is going to be responsible for the entire clan someday. On top of all that, after the first incident, Broud rapes Ayla several more times. She actually mentions he waits for her to get up in the morning so he can attack her. Meanwhile, the whole clan, including Ayla's family, just stand by and do nothing even though they can see she's being hurt, because they believe it's Broud's right and don't understand what's wrong. Keep in mind that that this is being done to a ten/eleven year old child.
    • When Jondalar and Thonolan are attacked by a woolly rhino in The Valley of Horses. Imagine being stuck in the middle of nowhere, with your severely wounded younger brother. No one knows where you are, as far as you know there are no other people nearby who can help, and you don’t have the knowledge and materials to treat him. And on top of that, the smell of blood could attract any wild animals lurking nearby and you’re basically defenceless.
    • Crossing the glacier, which forms the big climax of the fourth novel. Not only is it freezing, but it’s completely barren of food and water, the ice is so sharp it can cut horses’ hooves open, if you run out of supplies you’re screwed, it takes days to cross, there’s no shelter from the elements and climbing down it can be just as dangerous as going up. And as if that weren’t bad enough, there are hidden crevices everywhere, which can open up without warning or are basically invisible until you’re right in front of them. Falling down one is almost always a death sentence, and Ayla nearly does. She’s only saved because she manages to land on a narrow ledge and has Jondalar with her to pull her up. If she’d been alone, or broken a limb, she’d be screwed.
    • Ayla being Called by the Earth Mother. She goes on an insane drug trip and runs blindly into a series of caves, with no torches, food or appropriate clothing. After having coming back to her senses, she lost underground, cold, hungry and completely alone with little hope of finding her way out on her own...and, although she doesn’t realise it at the time, she’s suffering a miscarriage too.
    • The visions Ayla has whenever she takes the psychotropic roots. Not only are they frightening and incoherent, but each time she under its effects, she comes comes close to...well, it's not made entirely clear what would happen, but most characters are under the impression that if she isn't brought back in time, her spirit would be lost inside some great dark 'void', the very prospect of which is terrifying.
  • Seasonal Rot: Many readers considered The Shelters of Stone to be the weakest book of the series until The Land of Painted Caves was released and lowered the bar.
  • Sequelitis: Readers tend to think this started with The Valley Of Horses.
    • Arguably, the main problem is that, whilst the first book always had something going on, most of the action in the sequels (especially the last two books) is mainly relegated to beginning and end, meaning some readers can find getting through the entire book (which are very long) tedious. Some of the plots, such as The Mammoth Hunters and particularly The Shelters of Stone focus mostly on relationship drama and the like, and so come across as 'soap opera-y', which doesn't sit well with some readers.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped:
    • The author makes it very clear that people of both sexes should be treated equally and with respect, and are both important to humanity. That goes for women and men, with the S'Armunai subplot in the fourth book really hammering home the point that sexism and abuse towards either sex is harmful and wrong.
    • Prejudice based around race, ethnicity or appearance is also presented as very wrong, being both harmful to individuals and detrimental to society as a whole.
    • As far as the author seems to be concerned, rape (of women and men) is one of the worst crimes there is, just as bad as murder in some cases. Defiled Forever is strongly averted and/or deconstructed with rape victims in this series.
  • Squick:
    • Some of the sex scenes have this effect on some of the readers.
    • The graphic description of Jondalar's injuries from the cave lion attack.
    • Ayla's gruesome Screaming Birth in the first book, combined with Nightmare Fuel, as Ayla is only eleven at the time.
  • Tearjerker:
    • The Downer Ending of The Clan of the Cave Bear, especially the part that has Creb walking back into the cave because he can't bear to watch Ayla being cursed with death and Ayla finding him dead beside his sister's grave after the earthquake..
    • Rydag's death in The Mammoth Hunters.
    • Thonolan and Jetamio's tragic love story which ends with both them dying very young and in pretty unpleasant horrible circumstances.
    • The part towards the end of The Land of Painted Caves, where Ayla learns she had a miscarriage and then wishes the Mother would take away her psychic abilities and return her baby to her instead is pretty gut-wrenching.
    • The part in The Valley of Horses, where Ayla creates a snow sculpture of Brun and pretends to talk to him, then sits cross-legged and waits for him to tap her on the shoulder to give her permission to speak. He doesn't of, course, because it's a sculpture, and after several minutes of waiting, Ayla realises this and has a break down, smashing the sculpture and raging against the heavens before collapsing in tears because she's completely alone.
    • Madenia breaking down as she describes what happened to her when she was sexually assaulted. Her coming to terms with the assault and realising that sex should be about consent, trust and mutual enjoyment, leading her to decide to give such relationships a chance after all, can cause happy tears.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The subplot introduced in the fourth novel, where after meeting and rescuing Guban and Yorga, Ayla and Jondalar raise the possibility of trading with their clan. Jondalar actually brings it up with Willomar in the next book and he seems interested in the idea, which could’ve lead to some very interesting interactions between the Clan, the Zelandonii and Ayla. But…as of the sixth book, nothing seems to have come of it and Yorga and Guban are barely mentioned, even though several years have passed. It would arguably have added another exciting plot branch other than Ayla training to become a zelandoni and relationship drama, and it would’ve been nice to focus on the Clan again, as they haven’t been prominently featured since the first book, also bringing Ayla’s story 'full circle', in a manner of speaking.
  • Too Cool to Live: Creb, the Genius Cripple / Cool Old Guy shaman and Ayla's unofficial dad. Even though he's Killed Off for Real in the first book, he's so cool he keeps popping up in dreams and such in subsequent books.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Jondalar can slip into this at times for some readers. He's intended to be a conflicted, highly emotional and misunderstood man, but to some he comes across as a whiny, immature Jerkass who causes most of his problems himself. Readers will debate endlessly on how sympathetic Jondalar is and whether or not his numerous issues justify his actions in any way.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The film adaption. Whilst it was not especially well-received by critics or audiences, the make-up effects for the Neanderthals were pretty good and believable, and still don’t look half bad today, whilst the dramatic red and white face-paint Ayla wears during a ritual (featured prominently on posters and the cover) is almost iconic. The film actually received an Oscar nomination at the 59th Academy Awards for Best Make-Up.
  • The Woobie: Given there are Loads and Loads of Characters and that the series half-runs on drama, there were bound to be a few.
    • Ayla, the main protagonist herself, can be seen as one, especially in the first and second books, and at the end of the sixth.
      • In the first book (starting in the first few pages) she is orphaned in an earthquake, raised by people who regard as strange and ugly and punish her for trying to do anything different, is bullied and beaten by Broud over petty slights, repeatedly raped from the age of only ten, causing her to fall into depression until she realises she's pregnant (unknowingly with her rapist's child), both her adoptive parents die, the second very suddenly and she is cursed with death by Broud simply for daring to stand up to him, forcing her to leave behind the only home and family she's ever known, forever. She's also forced to leave behind her beloved son, who she never sees ever again. She carries the pain from the loss of her son for the rest of her life.
      • In the second book, she lives in near total isolation, with no human contact of any kind, for three years, struggling to survive and cope with the grief of being banished alone. When she finally meets another person of her own kind, she develops feelings him...only for him to react with revulsion when he learns of the origins of her adopted family and son, and with the implication she is to viewed in contempt for being raped. Although he apologises and acknowleges he was wrong, she still realises that her past could wrongfully result in her being judged and ostracized by her own people, due to prejudice and ignorance.
      • In the third book, due to a misunderstanding and cultural clashes, the man she loves and believed she would spend her life with becomes cold towards her and stops speaking with her for reasons not immediately obvious to her, causing her to believe he does not love her. She ends up being talked into almost marrying another man whom she likes, but does not truly love and reluctantly goes along with it whilst feeling guilty for not returning his feelings and pining for her ex. On top of that, she has to cope with latent psychic abilities she finds frightening and overwhelming.
      • In the sixth book, after going through a terrifying psychic vision/drug trip and suffering a miscarriage, she goes to find comfort in her husband, who she's been inadvertently neglecting due to her commitment to work... and catches him red handed cheating on her with his spiteful ex, who they both know hates her. She subsequently sinks into a depressive state, which she only comes out of after her remorseful husband saves her from a really bad drug trip that almost kills her and they reconcile. It's worth noting that in spite of all this, Ayla rarely lets any of it bring her down and takes it all in stride.
    • Oda. She was raped by a man of the Others, who pushed her down whilst she was holding her baby daughter, causing her baby to fall and hit her head, dying of her injuries. She found out she was pregnant again (unknowingly by her rapist) and wished for another girl, despite the fact the patriarchal Clan prefer sons. She did indeed give birth to a girl, Ura, who was considered deformed and bad luck. She was only allowed to live to punish Oda for wishing for a girl and was left worrying for her daughter's future, as no man was likely to want her as a mate, leaving her unprovided for.
    • Creb. He is seen as deformed and not a 'real man', or only seen as the powerful Mog-ur and never had a mate or children. The only people who see past his status and deformities are his sister, niece and surrogate daughter Ayla. He's forced to curse Ayla with death, which devastates him. He then learns in a vision that his people will eventually go extinct and that their only hope of surviving in some form is through hybrids, who are often mistakenly seen as deformed and abandoned or shunned. When Broud becomes leader he tries to force him out of his hearth even though he's an old man whose lived there all his life and when Ayla stands up for him, she is cursed with death again. Creb cannot bear to watch this and goes back inside the cave... and so is trapped in the cave when an earthquake hits and is crushed to death by falling rocks. Although he probably died quickly, he died knowing that the girl he loved like a daughter had been wrongfully cursed with death and that his clan had been left in the hands of egomaniac who has no idea what he's doing.
    • Echozar. His mother and surrogate father both died, he was shunned by both the Clan and the Others for being seen as 'deformed' or 'a half-human abomination', eventually driving him to attempt suicide. He finally comes to terms with it all, is accepted by the Lanzadonii and gets to marry the woman he loves more than anything, but is still occasionally mocked or judged for being a hybrid (even at his own wedding) and is also unaware that his wife is actually deeply in love with another man she knows she cannot have and is technically 'settling' with him.
    • Joplaya. For most of her life she has been in love with Jondalar, her close cousin, unaware they're actually half siblings. She knows that it's incredibly unlikely they'll ever be together because they're considered too closely related to marry and Jondalar is also completely oblivious to her feelings. In spite of this, she cannot help but hold out hope he might someday return her feelings...until he falls in love with another woman. She's crushed, but never let's him or anyone else know and is genuinely happy for them both. She decides to mate Echozar to try and move on, even though she believes she'll only ever love Jondalar and does not fully return Echozar's feelings. And on top of all that, due to being rather narrow-hipped, she cannot risk having more children (especially as her son has a larger-than-average head due to being part Clan) or the resulting complications could kill her.
    • Thonolan. He and his mate suffer through several miscarriages in their attempt to start a family ending with she and their baby dying in childbirth, plunging him into a deep depression. He is then mauled to death by a cave lion, dying thousands of miles from his home, never seeing his family again and, for all he knows, he lead his own brother to his death too.
    • Willomar when he finds out his only son is dead. He's completely crushed, even briefly going into shock as he struggles to come to terms with what happened.
    • Jondalar in the second book. He watches his brother sink into a deep depression after his sister-in-law and baby niece die in childbirth. He is then unable to dissaude his brother from foolishly entering a cave lion den to retrieve a deer, resulting in them being attacked. Jondalar is seriously wounded, to the point where he came close to being crippled, at the least whilst Thonolan is killed. Jondalar does not initially realise what happened; when he wakes up, he immediately begins asking for his brother. Despite the language barrier, he quickly deduces from Ayla's reaction that Thonolan is dead and promptly breaks down in her arms, blaming himself for being unable to protect him. He's also left completely alone and near-bedridden in a foreign land, far from home and with only a woman he doesn't know and who cannot speak his language for company and assistance.
    • Ranec by the end of the third book. The woman he loves tells him that she is leaving him for her ex and that whilst she likes him, she isn't in love with him and never was, completely devastaing him. She then leaves with her boyfriend to travel to his tribe all the way on the other side of the continent, meaning Ranec will most likely never see her again. And all this happens on the day of their wedding, no less.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/EarthsChildren