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Wolf Brother: Chronicles of Ancient Darkness #1    by Michelle Paver order for
Wolf Brother
by Michelle Paver
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2005 (2004)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is the first in an exciting new series, Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, set in the early days of humankind. Torak wakes from a brief sleep into nightmare in the Forest. He and his father (who have always lived alone away from the clans) were attacked by 'a huge rampaging menace in bear form', a demon-possessed creature that had stalked them. Now his father lies bleeding to death beside him.

Torak's father tells him to flee, but also makes him swear to journey to the 'Mountain of the World Spirit', where he must find the means to defeat this evil creature before it slaughters all the clans. It's a race against time, but Fa tells Torak that his 'guide' will find him. Anguished, Torak runs from his father's death, to stumble on a starving wolf cub, whose yowls he understands (his clan is the Wolf), and whose eyes are as 'clear as sunlight in springwater'.

Though Torak means to kill the cub, they end up travelling together into a world of adventure (it's fun seeing Torak - 'Tall Tailless' - through the cub's eyes). They're captured by members of the Raven Clan. Torak demands trial by combat and makes an enemy of the Leader's nephew, Hord, whose sister Renn also mistrusts him. She quotes a prophecy about the 'Listener' who 'fights with air, and speaks with silence.' His 'heart's blood' is supposed to defeat the Shadow, but how?

Torak escapes, followed by Renn, who's determined to ensure that he goes to the Mountain. She tells him he must find three pieces of the 'Nanuak' - 'Deepest of all, the drowned sight. / Oldest of all, the stone bite. / Coldest of all, the darkest light.' Trailed by the demon and accompanied by Renn and Wolf, Torak wins the talismans at the bottom of a waterfall, under the earth, and in a snow cave. After an epic journey and great trials he reaches the World Spirit, which takes his 'heart's blood', and destroys the Bear.

But it's not over, since we've learned along the way that Torak must also take on evil Mages, the 'Soul-Eaters'. My teen son and I both loved Wolf Brother, and can't wait for the next thrilling episode of this action-packed epic.

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