Riding Whinney with Jondalar, the man she loves, and followed by the mare’s colt, Ayla ventures into the land of the Mamutoi–the Mammoth Hunters. She has finally found the Others she has been seeking. Though Ayla must learn their different customs and language, she is adopted because of her remarkable hunting ability, singular healing skills, and uncanny fire-making technique. Bringing back the single pup of a lone wolf she has killed, Ayla shows the way she tames animals. She finds women friends and painful memories of the Clan she left behind, and meets Ranec, the dark-skinned, magnetic master carver of ivory, whom she cannot refuse–inciting Jondalar to a fierce jealousy that he tries to control by avoiding her. Unfamiliar with the ways of the Others, Ayla misunderstands, and thinking Jondalar no longer loves her, she turns more to Ranec. Throughout the icy winter the tension mounts, but warming weather will bring the great mammoth hunt and the mating rituals of the Summer Meeting, when Ayla must choose to remain with Ranec and the Mamutoi, or to follow Jondalar on a long journey into an unknown future.
Well the path of true love never did run smooth.
What I love about this series is the portrayal of the relationship between Ayla and Jondalar. They may be living in the Stone Age but the problems they face are the same as we do now. In this book they’ve left the security of the valley where they were pretty much in their own little bubble. Now they must interact with other people, contending with jealousy and just the demands being around other people can place on a relationship. The honeymoon period is over. It also demonstrates the degree to which a simple misunderstanding, in this case caused by Jondalar’s jealousy and Ayla’s lack of knowledge about the social behaviours of people, can rapidly spiral out of control and potentially destroy a relationship. All because of what started out as a simple misunderstanding and the fact both parties were too hurt, confused and upset to talk to each other and explain what happened.
My main complaint with this series has always been the rather long descriptions about places or how something is done which I always feel interrupts the flow of the narrative. I found it to be less of an issue this time around. I don’t know if I’ve just gotten more use to it, or if because Ayla is with an entirely new group of people with their own culture and therefore it’s all new information I found it more interesting but whatever the reason it bothered me less.
All in all a strong continuation to the series and worth a read by anyone as obsessed with them as I’ve become.