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No more hiding—I'm sick of it! Here I am! You can kill me if you want! Who cares if I'm the wrong target? Who cares if this is what the Soul-Eaters want? The Oak Mage—the Eagle Owl Mage—the Viper Mage—they're still out there! Kill me, and you solve nothing!
—Torak to the clans, Outcast

Outcast is the fourth book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series by Michelle Paver.


The pulse-pounding Stone Age adventure continues
For Two Moons Torak has hidden a terrible secret—and now it is revealed. He bears the mark of Soul-Eater and must pay the price. Cast out of the clans and on the run from clan members who will kill him, he and Wolf settle on an island in the Great Lake for the summer. But he is not safe there, either. Relentlessly pursued by Seshru the Viper Mage, Torak must defend himself and the clans from her terrible plans—but how?
Filled with more nonstop action and heart-rending scenes, Outcast is another thrilling story of friendship, survival, and the powerful need to belong.

The praise[]

"Paver moves her cast along, springs major revelations and brings everything around right in the end, but the plot’s most dramatic elements (notably a major flood that is over in half a page) take a back seat to character development." —Kirkus Reviews[3]


Two moons later, Torak struggles with how to tell Renn and Fin-Kedinn about his Soul-Eater tattoo. While gathering red deer antlers, Torak accidentally steals Aki's, his mark rubbed off. Torak flees from the fight to prevent exposing his chest, but Aki catches him and notices his tattoo. He tells his father, the Boar Clan leader, and Torak's secret is soon revealed to all of Raven Clan, disappointing Renn and Fin-Kedinn. Torak is to be exiled as a outcast per clan law. Fin-Kedinn contacts the mysterious Wolf Clan to potentially support Torak, but Maheegun, the Wolf Clan Leader, denies Torak as one of their own, pointing to the scar on his clan-tattoos that mark him as clanless, as his mother had declared when he was born. Saeunn backs up Maheegun's claims, and Torak is outcasted from the clans. He is given the mark of the outcast on his forehead, his clan-creature skin and belongings are burned, and the clans are instructed to kill him if they find him on their land.
Torak and Wolf flee into the Forest, though they are pursued by Raven Clan, Boar Clan, and Viper Clan. Despite the fears of breaking clan law, Renn smuggles some supplies to Torak and provides instructions on how to perform Magecraft to remove his tattoo. Torak performs the rite at the full moon, crafting a potion and slicing his tattoo with his father's knife. However, Torak spirit walks into an elk in his dreams, and he nearly kills Renn. He spies on the clan meet occurring near the Whitewater river, which took place every three summers. When Saeunn detects a Soul-Eater nearby, Torak flees and steals Fin-Kedinn's axe and the white pebble with his clan-tattoo that he gave Renn last summer. Bale and Renn attempt to find Torak, but he remains silent. He discards his pebble in a tree, but a mysterious hand takes it.
As the days pass, Torak begins to slowly lose his hunting and tracking skills, as if the Forest is a stranger to him. When Aki pursues him in a boat, Torak nearly kills him by sending him down the rapids. Over time, Torak begins to forget wolf talk and regards Wolf as a stranger to him. Eventually, at the height of his madness, he barely can tell what anything around him even is. Near Lake Axehead, Wolf reunites with the Mountain pack, but the lead male reminds Wolf that he cannot be of two packs. Otter Clan pursues Torak and Wolf in the marshes, and he ends up on the Island of the Hidden People in the lake, lost and confused. Saeunn tells Renn that she believes Torak is suffering from soul-sickness, a spell caused by Seshru, the Viper Clan Mage. Bale and Renn leave to find Torak. At Lake Axehead, they find a two-headed fish. They are confronted by Ananda, the Leader of Otter Clan, and the pair are taken to their camp. Their twin Mages warn of danger coming to the Lake. While searching the Lake for Torak, Bale and Renn get caught in a storm. Renn uses Magecraft to send help to Torak, summoning two ravens, which Torak names Rip and Rek. By caring for the ravens, Torak begins to remember who he is. He suddenly remembers his pack-brother, and Torak tracks Wolf to the Mountain pack's den on the island. However, a lynx has killed Whitepaw trying to attack the cubs, and Torak protects them from the hunter. Wolf and his pack return, and Torak is accepted into the pack.
Renn and Bale realize that the Lake is diminishing. Elsewhere, Seshru captures Torak, who reveals she has stolen his pebble and poisoned his souls. She longs for the fire-opal and forces Torak to spirit walk into a viper and nearly kill Renn when he admits he doesn't know where it is. Torak manages to escape, and he runs into Renn and Bale. However, Seshru finds them at the wolf den where the wolves have left the island. The Viper Mage taunts Renn into revealing her secret, that she is Renn's mother. Torak is shocked and betrayed by this revelation, which Renn has kept secret for two summers. He flees in anger. Seshru goads to Renn that she would've made a fine tokoroth if Saeunn hadn't taken her. Wolf comforts Renn. Renn later performs Magecraft to understand the signs she's been receiving, and she soon learns that the Lake has been sinking since the ice river has been keeping the meltwater from flowing downriver. Soon the World Spirit will send a storm that'll cause a flood over the entire Lake. Meanwhile, Torak and Bale discover the hidden fire-opal in the hilt of his father's knife. Torak leaves to warn Fin-Kedinn about the imminent flood, and he saves Aki as the flood waters rush from the ice wall.
After the flood, the other clans are prepared to kill Torak when Fin-Kedinn names him his foster-son. Seshru arrives to claim the fire-opal, but Bale strikes her with an arrow as Torak smashes the gem, fulfilling the sacrifice that it needs. The clans hold a feast, and Fin-Kedinn transforms Torak's outcast tattoo into one that symbolizes all four clans: the Ice Clans, the Forest clans, the Sea Clans, and the Mountain Clans. He is no longer outcast, but a member of all clans. Torak and Renn rekindle their friendship.


See also[]

Notes and references[]

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)