I have been re-reading Jane Auel’s Earth’s Children Book Series. It is amazing. It has to be. I rarely re-read books, even the great ones. However, for the sake of having another friend read it, I decided to embark on Ayla’s long journey. I just finished The Mammoth Hunters. It was an incredibly difficult book to deal with, primarily because it brought to light Ayla’s choice. Who should I spend my life with? In the end she is desperately in love with Jondalar and leaves the summer camp of the Mamutoi to follow her love. Oh that it felt so good.
The problem is….I think she made the wrong choice. She is fixated upon Jondalar because he was the first man who she really ever saw. After years alone she finds him, nurses him back to health, and in return, he teaches her how to talk. The problem is that from the beginning we are told the Jondalar has a rage issue. He is jealous and tortuously fragile, emotionally. He is such a baby, it kills me. This is none so clear as in the entire book, The Mammoth Hunters, where he mopes around. The worst is that he is ashamed of Ayla. As irritatingly myopic as he is during this book, he continues to harbor the idea that Ayla is abomination because she had a child of mixed spirits. He is ashamed of her and afraid of other people finding out about her child and her life before him, in the clan.
Isn’t that rich. He wants her so bad and supposedly loves her but is ashamed of her, her child, and her previous life. There was a part of me that rooted for Ranec the entire time. However, is Ranec the best alternative? Maybe. Ranec seems to be at least less hostile, less egotistical (oh, did I mention that Jondalar is hot and he can and does fuck everything that moves) choice but at the end of the day, that isn’t really great either. I mean, her relationship with Ranec is based upon the tension with Jondalar. Then he has another woman who loves him at the summer camp and…has his child. Kind of a nightmare. So who is the missing choice?
That is right…the little mentioned hero of The Mammoth Hunters…Vincavec. At the summer camp, he makes a play for her even though she has promised to wed Ranec. He isn’t afraid to stand up for what he wants, even if he has to cross a couple lines to get it. Let’s go over why I think that Vincavec is the choice of the hour, the choice that Ayla misses out on.
- Vincavec has his own money, and tons of it….Vincavec has his own status, and tons of it. She has her own status and wealth. Together, Vincavec wants to create a dynasty. He looks at the big picture and is dying to include Ayla in his world of loveliness.
- Vincavec is willing to stand up for Ayla in the most amazing of ways. When she was embarrassed by the Mamutoi people because of her past, Vincavec stood by her and even said he wanted to increase the amount he would offer in bride price because she had proven she could bear a child. He basically told the rest of the camp that they could shove their bigotry up their asses. Ayla was worth more than he could give. Even at the end he is happy to see his amber he gave as surety for his offer go because Ayla will have it.
- Vincavec wants Ayla so much he is willing to accept another husband at his hearth. He is funny about it and doesn’t blanch one bit to the idea that she may want another man. He is okay with that. Further, he offers to make it under any relationship she wants. He could take both her and a man, she could take him and another man. Plus, as mentioned before, he will cross cultural bounds to make that happen.
- Vincavec is confident. Obviously, he knows that Ayla residing at his hearth is the most desirable thing. Even when he isn’t chosen at the end, he is charming about her choices saying he could have never predicted Jondalar as the suitor to win out. He isn’t angry. It doesn’t reflect negatively on his self esteem, one iota.
- Vincavec would keep Ayla with the Mamutoi. She would always be able to see her adopted relatives and Mamut. Plus, she would stay close to Durc, if ever she desired to see what happened to him.
Alas, she is in love….as so many of us are, with Jondalar, a bumbling asshole whose claims of adoration smack up in the face of his shame of her and what he thought was rape (to be fair, Ayla submitted in her head…but he didn’t know it). He is rash and immature and emotional but super tense about anyone saying any negative thing to him or affronting him in any way…oooh and don’t forget those weird rage issues he is always trying to suck in. He says, himself, that constantly trying to keep his rage in check makes him keep all his emotions under tight lock down. Good times, good times. But she loves him.
I totally, 100% get it. Looking at it from a third party perspective as between Ayla, Jondalar, Ranec, and Vincavec makes the choice clear…she missed out…Vincavec was the sure choice and she blew it. Just sayin’