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A Shadow attacks the Forest. None can stand against it. Then comes the Listener. He fights with air, and speaks with silence. The Listener gives his heart's blood to the Mountain. And the Shadow is crushed.
—The ancient prophecy, Wolf Brother

Wolf Brother is the first book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series by Michelle Paver. It is illustrated by Geoff Taylor.

Blurb[]

Torak is alone... wounded, terrified and on the run.
An outcast like his father, he has avoided all contact with the clans - until now. Now his father lies dead: slaughtered by a demon bear.
Somehow, Torak must keep going. His only ally is an orphaned wolf cub. His only chance of survival is his skill as a hunter. But starvation isn't the only thing in the Forest to fear.
Through the whispering spruce trees comes an evil more terrible than any clan can imagine, let alone defeat. The Moon of Red Willow is fast approaching: and soon Torak-and only Torak-must face a foe he can neither outrun nor outwit; a foe who stalks him as silently as breath.

The praise[]

"Torak's coming-of-age tale will keep the pages turning." —Publishers Weekly
"This invigorating book will thrill a young reader's inner wild child." —Time Out New York Kids

"Wolf Brother is the kind of story you dream of reading about and all too rarely find…The vivid prose leaps off the page." —Times (London)
"The stark, primitive setting provides an innovative contrast to most fantasies…This fast–moving story with engaging characters will appeal." —Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
"Readers will have a real feeling for what life in the wild must have been like, and will be looking forward to Torak's further exploits." —Kirkus Reviews[3]
"Paver has done her research and done it well" —KLIATT
"Like other great children's books which also entrance adults, Wolf Brother conjures up an utterly believable yet original world where the story grips you to the very last page." —Ian McKellen

Plot[]

In the pre-agricultural Europe set six thousand years ago, after the end of the last Ice Age, the hunter-gatherers of the Forest live in clans. Torak and his father of Wolf Clan live alone in the Forest as outcasts. When Torak is twelve summers old, his father is killed by a bear, believed to be possessed by a demon. Before Torak's father dies, he tells Torak to swear an oath to head north and find the Mountain of the World Spirit, and ask the World Spirit to help destroy the bear before it eliminates all life in the Forest.
Torak heads north and soon encounters an orphaned wolf cub, whose pack was drowned in a flood. Torak learns that he can communicate with the cub. The cub, whom he names Wolf, accepts Torak as his fellow wolf and pack-brother and becomes Torak's guide. Twelve days later, Torak and Wolf are captured by Renn, her brother Hord, and Oslak of Raven Clan who were searching for the thief who stole their roebuck. Torak is taken prisoner to the Raven camp so that his fate can be decided by Fin-Kedinn, the Raven Clan leader.
In the Raven camp, Torak fights Hord to prove his innocence. He wins by temporarily blinding Hord with steam from some broth he tipped on the fire. This, together with the dog whistle Torak made to summon Wolf, makes Fin-Kedinn and Saeunn, the Raven Mage, view Torak as the fulfilment of a prophecy about a "Listener". The prophecy states that the Listener, who talks with silence and fights with air, will offer his heart's blood to the World Spirit and thereby kill the demon-bear. One interpretation of this prophecy is that Torak must be sacrificed, and his blood taken to the Mountain of the World Spirit. The other one is that only Torak can find the World Spirit, and kill the bear. Fin-Kedinn reveals that he once knew Torak's father. His father was the Wolf Clan Mage, and the bear was created to kill his father. Torak's father also placed him wolf den after his mother died when he was three moons old, which is why he can speak wolf talk.
While the clans are discussing what to do, Torak and Wolf escape, helped by Renn who believes that Torak must go to the Mountain of the World Spirit himself. Renn tells Torak the rest of the prophecy, which says he must find three parts of the "Nanuak", the strongest part of the world-soul, to please the World Spirit and ensure its aid. On their journey, they are attacked by an Otter Clan outcast called the Walker. Demented, the Walker tries to kill Renn and Torak. With quick wits, they convince the Walker that they are not evil, and he lets them go. Torak finds the first part of the Nanuak when he falls into a river, the second part in a cave, and the third part on their treacherous crossing of the Ice River close to The High Mountains. Nearly at their destination, Renn and Torak are recaptured by Hord and Oslak and taken to the Raven Clan's new temporary camp. Fin-Kedinn releases Torak, believing him to be the one who should go to the Mountain. Fin-Kedinn also reveals that Torak's father dedicated himself to thwarting a group of rogue mages, the Soul-Eaters, who have together turned to evil in their determination to rule the Forest. The Soul-Eaters created the demon-bear specifically to kill Torak's father; they will therefore see Torak as their enemy, and Torak may be destined to destroy them.
Torak and Wolf climb towards the Mountain alone. The bear is drawn after them by the Nanuak. Torak is unexpectedly attacked by Hord, who believes he must be the one to take the Nanuak to the Mountain because he helped one of the Soul-Eaters to create the bear. Torak realizes that Wolf is his heart's blood, and as Wolf carries off the Nanuak, Hord and the demon-bear are engulfed by the ensuing avalanche and Torak gives the three pieces of Nanuak to the Mountain Spirit. Torak hears Wolf's howls in the distance, as he has found a pack of wolves to join, and Torak returns to the Raven Clan camp alone.

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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)
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