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Vengeance is mine! I swear to you, Bale. I swear to you on this knife and this horn and on my three souls—I will hunt the Oak Mage and I will kill him. I will avenge you!
Torak swearing revenge, Oath Breaker

Oath Breaker is the fifth book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series by Michelle Paver.

Blurb[]

The story of Torak and Wolf continues in another action-packed Stone Age adventure
Nine moons ago, Torak was an outcast—the hunted. Now he turns hunter when he vows to avenge the murder of his kinsman. Torak follows the killer into the Deep Forest, where the clans are on the brink of war, for they have succumbed to the lies of the Soul Eaters. Here Torak must face fire, violence and, ultimately, overwhelming evil as he comes face to face with his kinsman’s murderer at last. Filled with breathtaking action and heartrending scenes, Oath Breaker is a thrilling story about loyalty, friendship, and the true cost of vengeance.

Plot[]

Nine moons later, Torak is spending time with his kinsman Bale on Seal Island when Bale asks Torak what he thinks about Renn staying with him. Torak becomes jealous and angrily leaves Bale. That night, Bale is thrown off the Crag while keeping watch alone, and Torak blames himself for Bale's death. He and Renn soon learn that it was Thiazzi, the Oak Clan Mage, who killed Bale, and he has found a fire-opal shard that Tenris hid. After Bale's funeral rites, Torak breaks clan law by shouting Bale's name, and he swears revenge on Thiazzi. Torak, Wolf, Renn, and Fin-Kedinn follow after Thiazzi towards the Deep Forest, though Saeunn warns that Fin-Kedinn must not go. Wolf runs ahead and finds Thiazzi, but he is scolded by Torak for letting him go; Wolf becomes confused by his pack-brother's blood-hunger. Torak begins to see Bale's spirit, fearing that his kinsman blames him for his death.
While nearing the entrance to the Deep Forest, Torak spots Thiazzi's canoe ahead, but he sets off one of his traps. Logs fall onto Fin-Kedinn and Renn, resulting in broken ribs for the former. They spend the night on a burnt hill, where Fin-Kedinn reveals that this was the place where Torak's father shattered the fire-opal and caused the Great Fire. An ash-haired hunter stalks them that night. In the morning, Torak meets Gaup, a Salmon Clan hunter who was looking for his daughter when Auroch Clan chopped off his hand. Fin-Kedinn goes with him back to the Open Forest, but he advises Torak to find his mother's clan, the Red Deer, and to not touch the black horses. Renn spots Auroch hunters throwing a spear with Gaup's hand nearby, warning others not to trespass or face a curse. Renn uses Magecraft to create a charm to break the curse stick, and she and Torak hide in the trees until dawn. After crossing the Blackwater River, the pair notice an ash-haired hunter following them. They sleep in a yew tree that night, and Torak decides to spirit walk inside the tree to find Thiazzi. He's nearly swept away by all the voices until he locates the Oak Mage in a sacred grove with an ancient yew tree. To Renn's surprise, Torak nearly walks off the tree until she wakes him up.
Red Deer Clan finds them the next morning, sensing the spirit walker. Durrain, the Red Deer Leader and Mage, leads them back to their camp near Lake Blackwater. To Torak's frustration, Durrian won't tell him about his mother. She explains how the new Forest Horse Mage fasts alone in a sacred grove to appease the World Spirit, and Torak recognizes him as Thiazzi. However, the Red Deer refuse to fight. While the others pray, Torak slips out of camp to find Thiazzi. Wolf tries to stop Torak, but to no avail. Torak finds Thiazzi in the sacred grove hanging dead hunters on the Great Oak and Great Yew. Thiazzi's Magecraft prevents fire from harming him and he longs to become the Master of the Forest. Wolf leads bison into the grove to help Torak, but Thiazzi escapes. However, Torak is caught in a trap by Thiazzi's minion, the ash-haired hunter who goes by the Chosen One.
Fire rages through the Deep Forest, and Torak rescues a foal before hiding in a beaver lodge. Renn searches for Torak after the fire, but she is captured by Auroch Clan and Lynx Clan. She fears they will punish her as they did with Gaup, but she proves herself a Mage by summoning Rip and Rek and Wolf with her bone-whistle. Torak spirit walks into the lead mare horse to try to find Renn and Wolf, but he is captured by Forest Horse Clan. Both are taken to a Deep Forest camp where Auroch Clan, Forest Horse Clan, Lynx Clan, and Bat Clan have gathered to hear the Forest Horse Mage declare that they must unite and follow the True Way to strike war on the Open Forest. Torak, Thiazzi's prisoner, claims that he is a Soul-Eater, though an Auroch Clan hunter reminds Thiazzi that the Auroch Mage must also agree to his plans. Torak and Renn escape that night, but Torak leaves Renn to pursue his revenge on Thiazzi while Renn wants to warn the Open Forest clans about the coming war.
Renn is recaptured by Deep Forest clans, but she demands to speak to the Auroch Mage. In his secluded hut, Renn realizes with horror that Thiazzi is the Auroch Mage, having killed the older man just as he did with the former Forest Horse Mage. Thiazzi breaks Renn's bow and insists that she will lure the spirit walker to him. Torak realizes that he's leaving Renn in anger just as he did with Bale, though he realizes that Thiazzi kidnapped her. Wolf keeps his distance, hurt by his pack-brother's behavior towards the pack-sister, and he realizes with horror that Torak is not a wolf. He reunites with Darkfur from the Mountain pack, who convinces him not to abandon his pack-brother. Meanwhile, Torak finds the lead mare again and bonds with her. He scrambles onto her back and rides to the sacred grove to rescue Renn, where the Oak Mage had tied her up within the hollow Great Yew. Torak confronts Thiazzi and rescinds his oath to kill him to spare Renn's life.
Inside the yew, Renn manages to find a tiny blade to free herself while Torak climbs up the Great Oak. Renn climbs up strange pegs inside the yew tree and spots Torak clinging on the oak. As Thiazzi scrambles for Torak, his clan-creature wreath breaks and the fire takes hold of him. Eostra's eagle owl suddenly appears and takes Thiazzi's fire-opal, which causes him to slip and fall to his death. As Torak and Renn reunite on the ground, the World Spirit arrives in the form of a man with antlers to bring spring to the sacred grove. Torak wakes up a few days later with news of peace between the Deep and Open Forests. Torak is worshiped as their savior for bringing blossoms to the Great Oak. The Forest Horse Leader brings Torak the ash-haired hunter so he can decide her fate, but he allows her to live.
Durrain tells Torak about his mother, who bore him in the Great Yew. The World Spirit declared it his destiny to fight the evil his father created, and his mother asked for her son to be a spirit walker so he could accomplish this. The price was her life, and her bones lay in the Great Yew. Haunted by this news and his cursed gift, Torak finally grieves. Torak later fetches Renn's broken bow so she can grieve, and she gives him a kiss on the jaw. Wolf is confused why the pack-brother and pack-sister don't admit their feelings for each other already. Three moons later, Torak and Renn search for Wolf, who has been uncharacteristically missing. Wolf leads them to his den, where he and his mate Darkfur are introducing their three cubs to their pack, Torak and Renn.

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See also[]

Notes and references[]

  1. Blackwell
  2. Revealed on Amazon
The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series
Wolf Brother (2004)Spirit Walker (2005)Soul Eater (2006)Outcast (2007)Oath Breaker (2008)Ghost Hunter (2009)Viper's Daughter (2020)Skin Taker (2021)Wolfbane (2022)
Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Omnibus (volume 1) (2008)Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Omnibus (volume 2) (2011)
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