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Jondalar
Appears in: The Valley of Horses | The Mammoth Hunters | The Plains of Passage | The Shelters of Stone | The Land of Painted Caves

The secondary protagonist and Ayla's Love Interest. He is a flint knapper from a tribe called the Zelandonii (implied to be located in modern-day France), who's life is changed forever when he meets Ayla.


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     A - D 
  • Affectionate Nickname: Jonde, which his family occasionally calls him.
  • Amazon Chaser: Has shades of this in regards to Ayla, his One True Love. Though he's attracted to her from the moment they meet, he particularly admires her physical strength and skill with a sling, and after they work together to successfully take down an aurochs using their new 'spear throwers', he impulsively kisses her.
  • Amicable Exes: With Zolena and Serenio. Not so much with Marona.
  • Anger Born of Worry: When he’s scared or worried, he tends to become irritable and loses his temper easily, especially if he believes Ayla is in danger.
  • Badass Beard: He has one during the winter. He shaves it off in summer, which weirds out Ayla the first time he does it, because men of the Clan don’t shave and she’d never seen him without facial hair before.
  • Barbarian Long Hair: His hair is long enough that he can tie it back in a ponytail; he is a skilled hunter, occasionally gets into fights and is known to be Hot-Blooded.
  • Bastard Boyfriend: He can occasionally be a conflicted variation of this towards Ayla, mostly in The Mammoth Hunters. It's downplayed in that he's just a jerk rather than truly abusive, though you get the impression he's meant to be seen as a tormented bad boy of sorts and still a perfectly viable love interest for Ayla (indeed, she spends the entire book pining for him and wondering if she did something wrong).
  • Battle Couple: With Ayla in the fourth book; they work together to take down Charoli’s gang.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: He’s very handsome and is by and large a caring, charming and generous person in spite of his flaws.
  • Been There, Shaped History: He helps Ayla with several of her important discoveries and inventions, and is directly responsible for some important inventions or innovations of his own, including 'spear-throwers' (like an atlatl), carving likenesses based on real people and halters for horses.
  • Berserk Button: In the past, coming between him and Zolena. In the present, threatening Ayla or trying to get in her pants.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • Gender-flipped. He's the Veronica to Ranec's Betty for Ayla.
    • Ayla is the Betty and Marona is the Veronica for him.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Along with Ayla in the fourth book, rescuing a Clan couple being assaulted by a gang of young men.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Deconstructed and reconstructed. Jondalar is so well-endowed that he has had to hold back with basically every partner he's ever had...except Ayla, whose painful past experience has given her sufficient "character depth" to love all of him.
  • Blade on a Stick: His Weapon of Choice is a spear (a very common weapon in this setting), which he is quite adept at using. Given that Cro-Magnon tend to use lighter spears compared to the more cumbersome ones used by the Clan, he's able to throw it as well and learns how to hunt with one from horseback. He also creates a spear-thrower with Ayla's help to throw a spear further.
  • Boy of My Dreams: It's all but stated that Ayla dreamt of him before meeting him; during her time in the Valley of Horses she dreams of a man of the Others, whose features she can't distinguish save for the fact he has "yellow" hair.
  • Broken Ace: He's handsome, charismatic and skilled in many areas, including hunting, flint knapping and carving, and his women literally throwing themselves at him. But he can also be moody, insecure and prone to low self-esteem; despite his many attributes he still feels he’s not good enough, struggles to maintain long-term relationships and feels he has to constantly hold himself back out of fear he’ll lose control like he did as a teenager.
  • Byronic Hero: He's practically a Stone Age-equivalent of Mr Rochester; handsome, brooding, passionate, prone to angsting, occasionally acts like a jerk but is still a moral person and sometimes feels misunderstood by or at odds with his society.
  • Character Development: He is initially uncomfortable and embarrassed (to put it mildly) about Ayla being raised by the Clan and having a half-Clan son, due to his people's prejudice against the Clan. However, after nearly losing Ayla he comes to realize he no longer cares about what others will think of her past, as she matters more to him. He also comes to realize that the Clan aren't just animals like everyone thinks and is grateful to them, because if a clan hadn't taken in Ayla and trained her as a healer, they would never have met and he wouldn't even be alive.
  • Chick Magnet: Everywhere he goes, he draws lots of attention from women. At one point in The Valley of Horses, he literally gets swamped by women seeking sexual intimacy from him, though in this particular case it makes him uncomfortable.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: He loves sex (though in his culture, that's pretty normal) and is usually a caring and patient lover, who goes out of his way to ensure the women he sleeps with have a good time as well.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: In the past he knocked out a guy's teeth when he revealed his forbidden relationship with his donii-woman, Zolena. He also gets extremely jealous of Ranec showing affection to Ayla, though he restrains himself from beating him up, even invoking I Want My Beloved to Be Happy when Ayla seems to choose Ranec over himself. In The Land of Painted Caves he beats up Laramar after he sees Ayla having sex with him.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: He fell in love with Zolena, his donii-woman, as a young teen, which was considered taboo. He would've been happy to mate her despite what everyone thought, but then Madroman, a jealous rival, publicly revealed their Secret Relationship, leading to a huge scandal. Jondalar was so infuriated, he snapped and beat Madroman to the point where he lost teeth and had some permanent disfigurement, making the situation even worse. Jondalar was horrified and deeply remorseful over his actions. He was sent off to live with his father to straighten him out and ever since then has struggled to keep his strong emotions in check, lest he lose control again. He also longs to find true love, but although he's very popular with women, he can never seem to find one who truly understands and accepts all of him; his longest relationship was with a self-centred woman who only likes him for his looks and status.
  • Demoted to Satellite Love Interest: In The Land of Painted Caves, Jondalar doesn't really get many of his own storylines independent of Ayla.
  • Didn't Think This Through: When Jondalar is teaching Ayla how to speak while recovering from his injuries, he unthinkingly teaches her his native Zelandonii language, not the language of the Mamutoi, the people who live nearest her cave. They're both dismayed when they realize this; although Ayla can talk to Jondalar just fine, knowing Zelandonii will be useless if she wants to talk to the locals (and the Zelandonii live on the other side of the continent). Luckily, Ayla decides to leave with Jondalar and he can translate for her/give her a crash course in Mamutoi, and she quickly picks up the basics due to her highly-developed memory.
  • Distressed Dude: In The Valley of Horses, when he is mauled by a cave lion, and in The Plains of Passage, where he is kidnapped by a camp of women led by Ax-Crazy misandrist Attaroa. Both times, he is rescued by Ayla.
  • Drama Queen: At his worst. He tends to feel things very intensely and sometimes reacts very dramatically to situations if he’s particularly stressed out, raging, crying and occasionally engaging in a bit of Percussive Therapy.

     E - N 
  • Eating the Eye Candy: He's utterly taken with Ayla once he gets a proper look at her (seeing as he was half-unconcious from blood loss the first time they met). He finds her so attractive, in fact, it happens more than once even after they've known each other for several weeks.
  • Everyone Looks Sexier If French: He’s incredibly attractive and technically French (the area where his tribe lives is implied to be in the same region as modern-day France).
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: He has light blonde hair and is crazy good looking.
  • Fatal Flaw: His struggle to control his emotions (especially anger) and process them properly. People often say he "feels too much, too strongly".
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: His first real relationship ended in disaster and until he meets Ayla, he had never been able to properly get over it and meet another woman he loved that deeply.
  • First Guy Wins: Up to Eleven. Jondalar isn't only Ayla's first love interest; he's the first man of the Others she's ever met too. They end up getting married and starting a family.
  • First Love: He is Ayla's first love and seemingly her only love too; she became fond of Ranec in the third book, but didn't love him as deeply as Jondalar.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect / Rescue Romance: He falls in love with Ayla after she saves him from a cave lion and spends months tending his wounds.
  • For Want of a Nail: If Jondalar hadn't impulsively decided to go travelling across Europe with Thonolan, he would never have met Ayla, the love of his life, which has a huge impact on both them and by extent, alters several other events in the series.
  • Happily Married: To Ayla from the fifth book onwards discounting their temporary estrangement near the end of the sixth book.
  • Has a Type: Jondalar isn’t too fussy in this regard, sleeping with a wide range of women, but the two women he is truly devoted to (Zolena and Ayla) are both beautiful, independent and strong-willed shamans/healers. Upon meeting Ayla for the first time, some of his friends remark that of course he fell in love with a woman like her, considering who his First Love was.
  • Hot-Blooded: A central trait. His passionate and strong-willed behavior are seen as attractive or compelling, but can also be off-putting to people who find them too much, and Jondalar himself sometimes struggles to deal with his emotions and express them without causing a scene. Luckily for him, Ayla is more than capable and willing to handle him.
  • Hot for Teacher: Justified, in that his teacher was his donii-woman – a woman specifically assigned to teach him about sex once he came of age. The problematic part was that he developed an emotional attachment to her, which is considered inappropriate.
  • Hunk: His general description and manner strongly suggests he's one - he's very tall and muscular with chiselled facial features, has a few Rugged Scars]] on his body, often sports either Perma-Stubble or a Badass Beard and is a total Chick Magnet.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: He first appears in the second installment, The Valley of Horses, and besides Ayla herself, he's probably the most important and well-known character.
  • Icy Blue Eyes: His eyes are described as being intense 'glacier blue' and are also described as "magnetic" and "charismatic", capable of seducing nearly any woman he uses them on.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He has anger and jealousy issues and can be a bit of a judgmental dick at times, but has a kind and generous heart at his core. He regrets causing harm to others, tends to hurt people more out of thoughtlessness than malice and will do his best to make amends.
  • Lady Killer In Love: He's had many lovers over the years, but Ayla is the one he falls head over heels for.
  • Like Brother and Sister: An interesting example. Jondalar regards his relationship with his 'close cousin' Joplaya as this; unbeknownst to them, they are actually half-siblings. Joplaya's feelings, however, are romantic in nature, though Jondalar is utterly clueless to this.
  • Likes Older Women: Zig-zagged. His First Love Zolena was several years older than him (which was part of the reason their relationship was frowned upon). Serenio is also older than him, he being between 18 and 20 when they get together while her son Darvolo is implied to be his preteens. However, other women or girls he's been in relationships with are closer to his age; his Second Love Ayla is around three years younger than him, though interestingly, she comes across as being Wise Beyond Their Years at times.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: For most of his young adult life, until he meets Ayla.
  • Love Epiphany: He has one in The Valley of Horses, in a bizarre sex dream involving Ayla.
  • Magnetic Hero: He's explicitly stated to be seen as "magnetic" and picks up a lot of friends (including Friends with Benefits) along his Journey.
  • Manly Tears: He sheds these on a surprisingly frequent basis.
  • Mood-Swinger: He can switch from stressed to calm, or morose to happy, and vice versa, rather rapidly in some circumstances.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Dear god, yes. We get lots of detailed descriptions of Jondalar’s physical appearance, clothed and unclothed, from the perspective of female characters and he’s featured in a lot of sex scenes.
  • Must Make Amends: Near the end of the sixth book, after he cheats on Ayla, drunkenly beats up Laramar and Ayla slips into a drug-induced coma, which he blames himself for, believing she would never have risked it if he had only been a better mate.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • In The Valley of Horses, he has this reaction after he unthinkingly insults Ayla's hybrid son as an "abomination" and the Clan who adopted her "animals", causing her to ride off in anger. He realises afterwards he was a complete dick to her, especially after she had gone to great lengths saving his life and caring for him, and also that he has probably blown his chance of having a relationship with her. He throws himself down and cries, asking why the Mother (his people's equivalent of God) didn't stop him. Luckily for him, Ayla eventually forgives him when he profusely apologizes and they end up falling in love.
    • He also has this reaction when he believes he forced himself on Ayla in The Mammoth Hunters; after having angry sex with her following an argument, he's horrified when he sees Ayla is weeping. Ayla tries to explain she was actually crying in relief because she thought Jondalar no longer loved her and that she consented to the sex (in her head at least), but Jondalar is too disgusted with himself to listen properly.
  • Near-Death Experience: He has one after being mauled by a cave lion; he even believes for a short time he did die and is in the spirit world when he sees a beautiful woman ordering the lion away, then wakes to see the same woman helping a mare give birth. He’s incredibly lucky Ayla was there and that she’s an expert healer, as she manages to save only his life and ensures he isn’t permanently crippled.

     O - Y 
  • Oblivious to Love: A recurring issue for him.
    • He isn't certain how Serenio feels about him and when she rejects his marriage proposal, he assumes he misread her feelings. She exasperatedly informs him that she is in love with him, but turned him down because she knows he doesn't feel the same way.
    • He's completely blind to Joplaya's love for him. It's just as well, as they're actually paternal half-siblings.
    • In The Mammoth Hunters, he believes Ayla no longer loves him and wants to be with Ranec instead. Because being around Ayla hurts too much, he withdraws from her...which leads Ayla to assume he doesn't love her anymore, until they finally talk through their issues at the end and figure out that yes, they are mutually in love.
  • One Head Taller: Due to his unusually tall stature (he's around 6'6"), he usually towers over most of his love interests. Even Ayla, who at nearly six feet is no slouch in the height department either, only just comes over his shoulders.
  • One True Love: Heavily implied to be Ayla's.
  • Opinion-Changing Dream: He has a very surreal dream in which he sees the Earth Mother - whom resembles Ayla - birthing all living creatures, including Neanderthals. And he has sex with her. This leads him to realize that Ayla was right about Neanderthals not being animals, but just another kind of human (which he had already begun to suspect) and he rapidly begins to shake off his culturally-ingrained prejudice towards them. It also brings him closer to Ayla and makes him finally realize he’s in love with her.
  • Parental Substitute: Darvolo comes to view him as replacement for his deceased father. As a result, he's very upset when Jondalar eventually breaks up with his mother and leaves the Sharamudoi. They make up in The Plains of Passage, though.
  • Romancing the Widow: With Serenio, though it's more of a Friends with Benefits relationship; although he cares for her, he never falls in love with her, which eventually leads to them amicably breaking up.
  • Runaway Fiancé: At the start of The Valley of Horses, it's mentioned that many people were expecting Jondalar to mate Marona at the Summer Meeting...but he changed his mind and decided to go travelling with Thonolan instead. Though they weren't formally Promised, Marona was still under the impression he was going to marry her and isn't best pleased when Jondalar is a no-show.
  • Secret Keeper: Of a sort. He's one of the few people who knows Ayla was raised by the Clan and has a child of mixed spirits; however, by the fourth book, he's realized he doesn't care what everyone else thinks of Ayla's past. If asked directly, he's prepared tell the truth and defend Ayla if need be, but otherwise, he just doesn't bring it up.
  • Sex God: Generally portrayed as this, due in no small part to his...ahem...equipment, as well as his years of experience in pleasuring women. Even villainous women have been known to find him attractive.
  • Sex with the Ex:
    • He mentions that after he and Zolena ended things, they slept together a few times, but they never again allowed their relationship to become serious.
    • When he and Ayla have technically broken up in The Mammoth Hunters due a misunderstanding and lack of communication, they end up having sex following an argument. Unfortunately, this still doesn't result in them getting back together until the end of the novel, as Jondalar thinks he was too forceful with Ayla and tries to stay away from her to protect her, despite her insistence that she definitely wanted to have sex with him too.
    • Played for Drama in The Land of Painted Caves, where it's revealed Jondalar has been secretly having sex with Marona, his former girlfriend, although he's now mated to Ayla. However, the moment Ayla finds out, he breaks things off and makes it clear he only slept with her out of loneliness and frustration (especially because Marona kept throwing herself at him).
  • Simple, yet Opulent: The tunic Ayla made him for their Matrimonial is described as being this. She dyed the leather pure white using a secret technique Crozie taught her and added ermine tails. Although nowhere near as Pimped Out as Ayla's wedding dress, onlookers state that it stands out anyway for its striking colour and the obvious skill and time it took to make it, with its comparative simplicity in fact complimenting Ayla's outfit.
  • Starcrossed Lovers: With Zolena. To say it ended badly would be a major understatement.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: To his father Dalanar.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In The Mammoth Hunters and briefly at the end of The Land of Painted Caves. He gets better both times.
  • Tragic Keepsake:
    • A necklace belonging to his sister-in-law, Jetamio, which he keeps to remind himself of her and his brother after they both die. He keeps it with him until he reaches his home again and then passes it on to his mother.
    • He keeps a piece of quartz that falls from the rock pile his brother is buried under, which Ayla says he should keep in his amulet, as it may be a sign from his brother's spirit. It becomes a Memento MacGuffin in the fifth book, involving a subplot where Jondalar uses it in a ritual to contact Thonolan's spirit and ensure he moves onto the afterlife.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Played straight. Although his physical appearance (over 6ft tall, muscular and strong-featured) doesn't quite fit the usual description of this trope, he's notably a very handsome man with a good heart, who has a fair amount of emotional baggage.
  • Understanding Boyfriend: Played with. He tries to be an understanding and supportive mate to Ayla whilst she’s training as a zelandoni, but he sometimes struggles with it, especially when she prioritizes her training over him and their family. In the end, however, it's made clear he loves her no matter what and will always be there for her.
  • What Beautiful Eyes!: His deep blue eyes are his most striking feature; people frequently comment on how lovely and compelling they are.
  • What Does He See in Her?: Everyone had this reaction when Jondalar was considering mating Marona and tell him so after they broke up. Jondalar confesses he found her attractive, the sex was good and...well, that's it really. He only considered mating her out of convenience and social expectation, due to them having been together so long, but he never loved her and is increasingly relieved he didn't go through with it, especially as he ends up meeting Ayla, who he truly loves and is much more compatible with.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: The only time he comes close is when he pushes down a woman who was getting too grabby with him against his wishes. This bites him in the ass when he gets taken captive by the Three Sisters Camp, who are full of women lead by the man-hating Attaroa.
  • You No Take Candle: He initially speaks the Sharamudoi language like this. His grasp of Clan sign language is also apparently reminiscent of this, to his embarrassment, though Ayla points out it would take too long to teach him the full, substantially more complicated language, and that most Neanderthals would be impressed that he knows how to sign at all.

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