From extensive research about how the people of Northern Europe may have lived more than six thousand years ago, Michelle Paver has fashioned a remarkable debut novel for children. Wolf Brother
, the first instalment of her six-book Chronicles of Ancient Darkness
sequence, takes its readers back in time to an atmospheric world of snow, hunter-gatherers, tribes, clans, mountains, forests, bears and unearthly superstitions. For humans then, life was hard and Pavers narrative taps wonderfully into all the sensations they must have experienced living amidst such an unforgiving landscape.
The book begins dramatically with the death of Toraks father, the mage, Fa, from mortal wounds inflicted by a giant, possessed bear. Fas dying words bind Torak to a quest to find the mythical Mountain of the World Spirit. Only there will Torak find the strength needed to defeat the demonic creature and killer of men.
Having lived apart from other Clans, and burdened by such an impossible task, Torak is bereft by the death of his only companion in life and struggles to survive in the harsh conditions he now finds himself in. Then, instead of killing an orphaned wolf cub for food, Torak spares the tiny animal and together they travel north.
Torak gains a further companion for his arduous journey in the form of Renn, a headstrong and feisty girl of his own age whose Clan Torak inadvertently has an altercation with. Renn believes Torak to be The Listener--a prophesised being who will save the world--and together they escape from danger
into a different sort of peril.
Pavers novel is strong on detail and the authenticity of her settings is breathtaking. She cleverly weaves a fantastical, but believable, layer onto her narrative that enriches her story and makes it all the more readable. (Age 10 and over) --John McLay
'...captivated the publishing world...' -- Catherine O'Brien, THE TIMES (T2)
'...the best children's novel to be published in 2004...' -- Amanda Craig, SATURDAY TIMES 10.09.05
'Well researched and beautifully written... a winner with boys and girls alike' -- Wendy Cooling, CHILD EDUCATION MAGAZINE
'a gripping tale that rings true to our understanding of that distant time.' -- Julian Richards, BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE
...is a remarkable novel, but in many ways the story behind it is even more phantasmagoric. -- Catherine O'Brien, The Times, 30/6/05