Earth's Children
Jondalar ayla plains passage
Species The Others
Culture Zelandonii
Camp Ninth Cave
Born 5 years before Ayla
Spouse Ayla
Children Jonayla
Novel appearances The Valley of Horses
The Mammoth Hunters
The Plains of Passage
The Shelters of Stone
The Land of Painted Caves
Film appearances The Land of Painted Caves Trailer

Jondalar is the male main character of Jean M. Auel's Earth's Children series. Introduced in The Valley of Horses, he is the first of the Others whom Ayla meets, and becomes the love of her life.

Appearance and Personality[]


Cover The Plains of Passage.

Jondalar is described as being extremely handsome and muscular. He is very tall, being taller even than Ayla, who is close to 6ft in height. His height is later stated to be around is 1.95 meters (six feet six inches). Jondalar is described as having pale blonde hair, lighter in colour than Ayla's, with intense, deep blue eyes, that look almost violet under certain lighting. Jondalar is said to have 'strong' facial features, that bear a passing resemblance to typical Clan features on close inspection (though this is merely aesthetic). Ayla is the only one who notes this, most likely looking for similarities between the first man of the Others she meets and the Clan, whom she was raised with. Jondalar bears a close resemblance to his father Dalanar. 

Jondalar is an accomplished flint knapper, occasionally identified as an equal to other known master knappers such as Wymez of the Mamutoi and his father, Dalanar. He once thought to become a carver, and has some skill at that trade as well. He is an able hunter and tracker. He has participated in many of Ayla's 'miracles', such as the training of the world's second domesticated horse, and was almost single-handedly responsible for the invention of the spear-thrower and two-piece spear that breaks on impact leaving the shaft undamaged and reusable compared to a single piece spear that frequently breaks.

Jondalar is known to be fairly decent, stubborn and extremely emotional; the major indiscretions in his life (the affair with Zolena, the assault on Ladroman, and love of the virgin at First Rites) have all been precipitated by the intensity of his emotion and his lack of self-control. He supposedly gained some control during his years living with the Lanzadonii, but Ayla's brief relationship with Ranec caused an explosion of jealousy which belies this idea. He has also been endowed with a "prodigious manhood," and, as no woman has had the ability to accept his full measure save Ayla, he has been unable to find total abandon and sexual fulfillment, despite some gratification. In a bit of heavy-handed symbolism on Auel's part, his emotional intensity parallels his physical prowess; on every level he is forced to hold back, for fear that he will overwhelm and hurt his partner, and the only woman with the emotional and physical depths to fully accommodate him is the heroine, Ayla. Finally, he is a very physical creature, and has exhibited the practice of measuring distances quite accurately by judging them against his own height (6'6"), the length of his stride, and so on.

While Jondalar does not have abilities like Ayla seems to, he has a few prescient moments. In Ayla's valley cave, Jondalar has a strange dream about the Earth Mother giving birth, as the legends of the Zelandonii describe; he sees that Doni not only gives birth to the land and water and animals and Zelandonii, but to the Clan as well. When he wakes, he feels a strangeness in the air, and sees Ayla crying; he has an impression of the Mother crying superimposed over Ayla. It is said of Jondalar that Doni is unable to refuse him anything he asks for. During a ceremony of the Mamutoi, when Ayla and Mamut use the root which triggered her psychic visions with Creb during the Clan Gathering, she and Mamut become trapped in the void and cannot find their way out; Creb had pulled Ayla out during her visions, and neither she nor Mamut knew how he had done it. Jondalar, fearing that Ayla had died, fell to his knees beside her unconscious body and begged the Mother to bring her back. Ayla and Mamut felt themselves pulled back, and Mamut later tells Ayla that they were returned only by great strength of will. He also tells Ayla that she will need the protection of such a powerful will if she ever decides to use the herbs again. When Mamut tells Jondalar that Ayla's life belongs to the Earth Mother and that whomever she mates will be tied to her purpose, it seems as though he is trying to warn Jondalar not to leave her. When Mamut tells Ranec and Vincavec the same thing, it seems that he is attempting to warn them away from Ayla, obliquely informing them that they are not suited to help Ayla in the purpose Mut has for her.


Jondalar is based on male skeletal remains found at the abri called Cro-Magnon. Although the author has given Jondalar an extra quarter inch of height; the actual skeleton is only six foot five-and-three-quarters inches tall.[1]

Personal History[]

Ranks and Ties[]

Jondalar is the son of Dalanar, leader of the First Cave of the Lanzadonii, and of Marthona, former leader of the Ninth Cave of the Zelandonii. He has an older brother Joharran, who was sired by Marthona's first mate Joconan. After Jondalar was born, Marthona and Dalanar "severed the knot;" she remarried, and Jondalar has two younger siblings by Willamar: brother Thonolan and sister Folara, who is nearly ten years younger than Jondalar. He also has a "hearth cousin", Joplaya, the daughter of Dalanar and his second wife Jerika, whom Dalanar met when her family came into Zelandonii territory (Jerika appears to be of Mongol or Asian descent; the territory of her people is never pinpointed in the books, making exact racial determinations impossible). The Zelandonii only consider whether or not people share a mother to determine sibling relationships; because men are not fathers, only 'men of the hearth', children born to the same father are considered 'hearth cousins' rather than siblings. He also has one child, Jonayla, his daughter with Ayla born at the end of Shelters of Stone. There is a possibility that he has fathered two other children: a child with the Hadumai woman Noria, to whom he gave First Rites during his journey with his brother in the Valley of Horses. No details about this child are known, save that Haduma, leader of the Hadumai, believed that the child would have Jondalar's blue eyes. The other child would be that of a Shamadoi woman called Serenio with whom he lived while he was staying with the Sharamadoi people. Before he left she told him that she believed she was pregnant. When Jondalar returned with Ayla, he discovered that Serenio had left with a Mamutoi man who she fell in love with, and though Roshario, a friend of Jondalar and Serenio, believed she was pregnant, it was unconfirmed.

Jondalar's family is considered to hold high status among the Zelandonii: his mother is the former leader of the Ninth Cave, as well as being the widow of a former leader (Joconan); his elder brother, Joharran, became leader of the Ninth Cave when Marthona stepped down; his father, Dalanar, went on to found the First Cave of the Lanzadonii with Jerika and a group of Zelandonii settlers; his stepfather, Willamar, is Trade Master for the Ninth Cave, and as such holds a position similar to an ambassador. Finally, the family (and Jondalar in particular) is friendly with the Zelandoni formerly known as Zolena, First Among Those Who Serve the Mother (roughly a bishop to the other Zelandoni priests).


Though the child of a high-status Zelandonii family, Jondalar has managed to make quite a name for himself on a personal basis. His first whiff of reputation was his connection with Zolena. Zolena and Jondalar fell in love while Zolena was acting as his donii woman, and she with him. Though taboos dictated that their relationship be solely physical, the two began to discuss the idea of mating; it speaks to Jondalar's inherent charisma and handsomeness that, despite having just entered adulthood, he was able to make a strong emotional connection with a woman who was not only considered the most beautiful of all the Zelandonii, but was some years older than him. Ladroman, a boy of the Ninth Cave who also wanted Zolena, spied on the lovers and overheard their plans. Thinking to blackmail Zolena into his furs, Ladroman threatened to expose their activities; Jondalar lost his temper and attacked Ladroman, knocking out several of his teeth. The scandal became public, restitution was made to Ladroman's family, and Jondalar was sent to live with his father, who by that time had established the First Cave of the Lanzadonii.

After several years living with Dalanar and learning to work flint, as well as honing some of the charm and charisma which his father had passed on to him (the two are physically almost identical), Jondalar returned to the Ninth Cave. Zolena had begun training to become a member of the zelandonia; Ladroman and his family had moved away (to the Fifth Cave); and people had largely forgotten about his previous indiscretions. Jondalar, however, could not forget or forgive himself. Charismatic, extremely handsome and a sensitive lover, he never lacked for women (Zolena later described him as having an aching hunger that women longed to fill), but neither did he bond with them on an emotional level; Thonolan once described him, accurately, as having never fallen in love with anyone except Zolena. He was frequently asked to participate in the ritual of First Rites. Unfortunately, this only added to his self-loathing, as he was emotionally gratified by the innocence and attachment that the girls felt, but his 'love' for them only lasted for that night. As Jondalar saw it, he had perverted sacred traditions to his own emotional needs many times over.

Eventually, Jondalar began a relationship with Marona, a fellow member of the Ninth Cave who was considered the most beautiful woman among the Zelandonii. Jondalar could not think of anyone else appropriate to wed, but he did not love Marona or the vicious, spiteful spirit beneath her beautiful exterior. During the Summer Meeting when they had planned to tie the knot, Jondalar unexpectedly decided to accompany Thonolan on his Journey to the end of the Great Mother River. He would not return home for five years.


Mammoth Jondalar Ayla

Jondalar with Ayla.

Shelters Stone Jon Ayla Racer Whin

Jondalar and Ayla on the horses.

Jondalar ayla plains passage

Jondalar and Thonolan made their way down the Great Mother, meeting with several different tribes. Thonolan, an outgoing, easy-mannered young man, made friends easily, much like his father Willamar. After they had traveled for some time, Thonolan was injured by a rhino and rescued by the Sharamudoi; Thonolan fell in love with a woman named Jetamio, and soon found himself mated and cross-mated with his Shamudoi wife and a Ramudoi couple. Jondalar did not lack for company during his time among the Sharamudoi, and formed a strong attachment to a woman named Serenio; but, as with his other relationships, Jondalar was more physically invested than emotionally. Unfortunately, Jetamio died in childbirth, and Thonolan, stricken, took to his Journey again, hoping to escape grief too heavy to outrun. Jondalar abandoned his relationship with Serenio and continued to accompany him.

Their travels led them all the way to the Beran Sea, the end of the Great Mother River. Thonolan considered going even further, reckless in his grief and not really caring what might await them beyond the steppes. When a cave lioness steals a deer which Jondalar and Thonolan had just killed during a hunt, Thonolan recklessly insists upon tracking her back to her den and retrieving his kill. Inside the box canyon where the lioness and her mate lived, however, a cave lion attacked them. Thonolan was killed, and Jondalar mauled almost to death. In the haze of blood loss and pain, he thought a beautiful spirit woman had come for him; when he woke, he found that she was in fact a woman of extraordinary beauty and great skill, living alone in a small cave in a valley who did not speak.

Gradually, Jondalar began to communicate with the woman and learned that her name was Ayla. Believing that she was either an acolyte of some tribe's zelandonia or a full-fledged Zelandoni on some kind or sacred retreat, Jondalar was beguiled by her beauty and intrigued by the mystery she presented. When he realized that she could not speak, Jondalar began to teach Ayla Zelandonii, further mystified. Jondalar and Ayla both began to fall in love with one another while Jondalar recovered from his injuries; after a dream of her own mother speaking to her, Ayla's ability to speak improved exponentially. The free-flowing communication between them brought a major complication and the end of Jondalar's flights of imagination regarding her background; Ayla, not knowing that the Clan were regarded as animals or that children of mixed spirits were considered abominations, told Jondalar about her background. Jondalar reacted in the extreme, causing a huge rift between himself and Ayla, especially over the idea that her son, whom she still mourned after being forced to abandon him, was an abomination to the Others. Eventually, Jondalar came to realize through a dream from Doni that the Clan was human and so was Ayla's son, and he began to reconcile with her. Not long before they began to explore the surrounding territory, Jondalar gave Ayla First Rites, teaching her the Mother's Gift of Pleasure, and discovered that they were made for each other emotionally and physically.

Plains Passage Horse Ayla Jondalar

Ayla and Jondalar with horse.

Due to Ayla's upbringing among the Clan and the fact that she had given birth to a half-clan son, Jondalar initially believed that she would be vilified and shunned by the Zelandonii. This caused serious problems for their relationship in the beginning, as he did not believe himself strong enough to stand beside Ayla in the face of such hatred as he imagined she would incite; this insecurity stemmed from both his attachment to his family and his great self-hatred over the scandals he had already caused. Through nearly losing Ayla to Ranec of the Mamutoi and then nearly to death, Jondalar has overcome his fears and is willing to stand with Ayla even if it meant being cast out of the Zelandonii; however, in The Shelters of Stone, Zelandonii reaction to Ayla's background is not nearly as vehement as Jondalar imagined and no threats to cast either he or Ayla out were even made. However, it is not common knowledge that Ayla had a son of "mixed spirits" (a Neanderthal/Cro Magnon hybrid), and Zelandoni (Zolena) advised her not to mention him to anyone. If, in the final books, the information becomes public, it may cause changes in the attitudes of the Zelandonii, especially among the zelandonia. However, Ayla has also given birth to a baby girl with no trace of "mixed spirits", which may or may not dispel the idea that she would draw 'flathead' spirits to herself because of her previous child. Even so, Jondalar has sworn not to leave Ayla, and if the Zelandonii turn against her, he is likely to leave his people with her and his daughter, Jonayla.



Zolena, now First Among Those Who Serve the Mother (Zelandoni), was the first love of Jondalar's life. Originally his doni woman, Zolena and Jondalar developed a strong emotional, but socially unacceptable, attachment as well as physical compatibility. Before the incident with Ladroman which resulted in Jondalar's temporary exile, Jondalar and Zolena were planning to tie the knot. After Jondalar left, Zolena became an acolyte in the zelandonia, and joined the ranks of doniers during the Summer Meeting when Jondalar left on his Journey with Thonolan. Upon Jondalar's return, Zolena displays great affection for Jondalar, and, according to Ayla, still loves him. She has become 'a fat old woman'; Zolena has guessed that she was able to become First because the Great Mother knew she would grow to resemble Her. She has no children and is fiercely protective of those in her charge, especially the man she once considered breaking traditions for and mating.


During the time he lived with Dalanar and the Lanzadonii, Jondalar came to know his 'hearth cousin' Joplaya quite well. (As conjectured by Ayla, Joplaya is most likely Jondalar's half-sister via Dalanar, but since it is understood that only women can make children there is no such connection aside from a cultural relationship of 'hearth' or 'close' cousins.) Joplaya fell madly in love with Jondalar, and hoped that he would come to feel the same way about her. It was obvious by the way he treated her that he only felt a kinship with her, as well as a friendly rivalry due to her own skills as a flint knapper. Even after Jondalar returned to the Zelandonii, Joplaya still held out hope that he would realize her feelings and return them. Only after Jondalar returned from his Journey with Ayla, madly in love, did Joplaya give up hope of a deeper relationship between them. She accepted the suit of Echozar, a half-Clan man who had been taken in first by Andovan of the S'Armunai and then by the Lanzadonii after Andovan's death. The two mated at the same Matrimonial as Ayla and Jondalar.


Considered the most beautiful woman at recent Zelandonii Summer Meetings, Jondalar began a relationship with Marona at some point between his return from the Lanzadonii cave and leaving with Thonolan on their Journey. Marona was a fellow member of the Ninth Cave and a cousin of Jondalar's, though distantly related. Known for her spiteful behavior and her skill with the Mother's Gift of Pleasure, Marona was planning to tie the knot with Jondalar at the Summer Meeting before he left unexpectedly. She was understandably vexed, but when Jondalar returned five years later he discovered that she still begrudged him their sundered engagement; she has also, by extension, shown vicious hostility towards Ayla. Though she found an acceptable substitute to mate, she and her unnamed spouse severed the knot several years later; she has no children, and characters have speculated that she is barren.


A young Hadumai woman whom Jondalar met on his Journey. When he and Thonolan were taken in by the Hadumai for a time, Haduma, the matriarch and founder of the tribe, requested that Jondalar be the man at Noria's First Rites. (The visitors had barely established a common language when this happened, a testament to Jondalar's obvious charisma.) Haduma indicated that Jondalar would impregnate Noria during First Rites, and that the child would have Jondalar's blue eyes. The truth of this claim was never proven, as Jondalar and Ayla were unable to visit Noria and/or her purported child on their return Journey.


Jondalar's lover among the Sharamudoi, Serenio was an unmated woman with a young son, Darvalo; Jondalar found her pleasant and companionable, but could not bring himself to love her. The brief description of their liaison seems to be highly symbolic, used by Auel as a device to illustrate Jondalar's emotional state of mind before meeting Ayla. When Jondalar and Ayla return from the valley and stop at the Sharamudoi camp where he and Thonolan had stayed previously, Serenio had left the camp to mate with a cousin of Thonolan's female cross-mate; Darvalo stayed with the Shamudoi.


As described above, Ayla is the second and true love of Jondalar's life though their relationship is tumultuous for a while. Having saved his life and healed him so well that no one would expect that he had been mauled by a cave lion, Ayla won Jondalar's heart with a potent mix of experience and innocence, strength and vulnerability. She is a mature woman who had lived a lifetime before they met, yet approached life with the innocent qualities of a young woman at First Rites. Mamut, Ayla's adoptive father and the most powerful holy man among the Mamutoi, hinted more than once that Jondalar is a necessary part of whatever fate the Great Mother has in store for Ayla. Jondalar has fathered a daughter with Ayla named Jonayla. They truly are meant for each other.


Ancestors: Dalanar (father), Marthona (mother), Rabanar (maternal grandfather), and Jemara (maternal grandmother)
Siblings: Joharran (half-brother), Joplaya (half-sister)*, Thonolan (half-brother), and Folara (half-sister)
Mate: Ayla
Issue: Jondal (son by Noria)*, a child by Serenio*, and Jonayla (daughter by Ayla)
Extended Family: Jaradal (nephew), Marsola (niece), Thonolia (niece), and Brukeval (cousin)

  • Half-siblings who share the same father are called "close-cousins."
  • Whether Noria conceived a child was never confirmed. However, Haduma predicted that she would have a son named Jondal with Jondalar's blue eyes.
  • Before Jondalar left with Thonolan, Serenio told him that she believed that she was pregnant.