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This creature's souls can leave its body—leave it for much longer than any Mage ever achieves when he is curing the sick. This creature's souls can travel farther. They can enter the body of others. And when that happens, this creature sees, hears, and feels, just as the body into which it has strayed—and yet remains himself. This creature is a spirit walker.
—Tenris to Torak, Spirit Walker

Spirit Walker is the second book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series by Michelle Paver.

Blurb[]

As the Moon of No Dark looms over the land, the clans fall prey to a horrifying sickness. Fear stalks the Forest. No one knows the cause—and only Torak can find the cure.
His quest takes him across the sea to the mysterious islands of the Seal Clan, where Torak will battle an unseen menace and uncover a betrayal that will change his life—forever.

The praise[]

"Paver incorporates vivid descriptions [and] details that enrich her complex tale without impeding its quick pace." —Kirkus Reviews[3]
"Infused with an inexorable sense of menace." —Booklist
"Torak's bravery against insurmountable dangers makes him an engaging and memorable hero." —Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
"Paver has crafted an elegant and effective standalone novel whose fast pace will quickly engage readers." —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"An eerie, fast–paced ‘Outbreak meets X–files' sequel to Wolf Brother." —School Library Journal

Plot[]

Six moons after Torak defeated the demon bear, Torak encounters a sick hunter with oozing flesh and blisters. The hunter warns of a sickness coming. At the Raven Clan camp by the Widewater to catch salmon from its rich waters, Torak tells Oslak, his guardian in Raven Clan, about the sick hunter, but the usually gentle man sharply scolds Torak away. Torak notices that Oslak's hands are covered in blisters, though Oslak brushes him off. While practicing spear-fishing, Oslak beckons his nephew Dari towards the Widewater. Fin-Kedinn encourages the dazed Oslak to step away from the rapid water, and Saeunn and Renn perform healing rites to attempt to heal Oslak and Bera, another hunter who has fallen ill. However, the Mage's spells fail to work, and Oslak and Bera claim that their souls are being torn apart. Torak feels inflicted from Saeunn's spell, and he spots a small malevolent creature watching him in the dark. Renn tells Torak that Oslak sketched the three-pronged fork of the Soul-Eaters, and the pair wonder if the Soul-Eaters are behind the sickness.
Torak attempts to convince Fin-Kedinn to let him travel to the Deep Forest, where the Mages there might know of a cure. Fin-Kedinn suspects that Torak might be walking into the Soul-Eaters' trap, and Oslak's body floats down the Widewater, where he leapt from the Guardian Rock. While the clan leaves their camp to bid farewell to Oslak, Torak spots a tiny pair of footprints on the Guardian Rock. He decides to slip away to try to find a cure in the Deep Forest, though he is followed by the strange creature. It wounds a boar to attack Torak, who is forced to kill it to defend himself. He is confronted by members of Forest Horse Clan, who inform him that a cure exists in the Sea Clans and the creature that follows him is a tokoroth.
Renn is bitten by a tokoroth and learns from Saeunn that they are lost children who are hosts for a demon. She leaves to find Torak, and Wolf leaves his pack from the Mountains to find Torak after sensing something was wrong. She finds Renn, and he guides her towards the Sea. At the Sea, Torak is captured by three Seal Clan hunters, Bale, Asrif, and Detlan, after he washed his gear in the sea, violating the laws of the Sea Mother. He is taken to the Seal Islands and their camp on Seal Island. The clan is harvesting a whale and prepares a feast (with the blood worrying Torak at first,) Torak is taken to Islinn, the Seal Clan leader, and Tenris, the Mage. He pleads that he is bone kin since his Father’s mother was from Seal Clan but his father did not teach him the laws of the Sea. He asks for a cure for the sickness, and Islinn explains they used to have a similar sickness three summers ago. However, he is sentenced to a moon on the Rock, but manages to talk his way out of the punishment.
The next morning, Torak learns that a tokoroth has followed him from across the Sea. He warns Tenris about the creature, believing it to be the cause of the sickness, and he convinces Tenris to help him make a cure again. Meanwhile, Renn and Wolf follow Torak across the Sea with help of Sea Eagle Clan traveling to Cormorant Island to celebrate the Midsummer rites. Bale teaches Torak how to use a skinboat the next day, though he nearly crashes when his paddle breaks, to Bale's surprise. While following the tokoroth, Torak falls into a seal net as the tide arrives. In his panic, Torak visualizes himself as a fish but snaps out of it when Renn and Wolf save him from drowning. After parting from Renn and Wolf, Torak shows Bale the seal net, and Bale informs Torak of a rogue Hunter with a notched fin that attacked a group of hunters. Torak, Detlan, Bale, and Asrif travel to the Eagle Heights to gather selik roots for the cure. Torak leaps into the Sea after rescuing Asrif and takes over the body of a seal. Sensing the rogue Hunter nearby, Torak panics back into his body to warn his friends as the rogue Hunter destroys Detlan's skinboat and injures him.
Renn follows after Torak through the island and hears a skinboat nearby. Wolf later feasts upon the carcass of a dead Hunter calf whose teeth had been hacked out, and Renn concludes the rogue Hunter is seeking revenge. Tenris arrives to help Detlan, and Renn informs Torak of her suspicions that a Seal Clan member killed the young Hunter. Enraged by her accusations against his bone kin, Torak dismisses her. He tells Tenris of his experiences with the fish and seal, and the Seal Clan Mage concludes he was spirit walking, his souls temporarily leaving his body to enter another. However, Torak is separated from Tenris and Bale in a storm. In the Seal Clan camp, Renn learns that Tenris is a Soul-Eater after hearing the clinking of his puffin-beak fringe. Tenris declares her to be isolated after noticing the wound on her hand.
Back in Seal Clan's camp, Torak learns of Renn's sickness, despite her claims that Tenris is a Soul-Eater and to not trust him. Tenris betrays Torak by kidnapping and taking him to the Crag. Tenris reveals that he created the two tokoroths and created the sickness to draw Torak out, that he used Bale's brother as a test, and that there is no cure. He plans to eat Torak's heart to gain his powers, and also reveals that he created the demon bear to kill Torak's father, his brother. The ritual is interrupted by Renn and Wolf, and Torak falls to the Sea to lure Tenris to the notched Hunter, which kills him. Renn and Torak surmise that Tenris poisoned juniper berries to create the sickness. Islinn sends messengers to the other clans with news of the poison. Back in the Forest, Fin-Kedinnn tells Torak about his father and Tenris, the Soul-Eaters.

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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)
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