TJhis the first in Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, followed by Spirit Walker. The author did a great job of archaeological research and talked with experts who could give her tips on survival techniques, uses of native plants, hunting, and bring you into the world of what northern Europe would have been live about 6,000 years ago. I devoured this book in about a day and a half, but people who want a similar but more “mature” experience would also like Auel’s books, starting with Clan of the Cave Bear.
Torak, our young hero of about 13, lives in the forest with his dad, away from the Clans. His father is attacked and mortally wounded by a giant bear whom his dad says is possessed by a demon and will destroy the forest and all its creatures. Before he dies he makes Torak promise that he will journey to the Mountain of the Spirit World to destroy the bear. But he only has a few weeks before the bear gains enough strength to become invincible.
Torak flees from the bear, deeper into the forest, and finds a wolf cub whimpering next to the bodies of his parents and siblings who have drowned in a flood. At first Torak thinks of abandoning the troublesome cub, but soon affection grows between them and he realizes the wolf is his spirit guide who knows how to get to the mountain. They can communicate with each other in wolf talk. Torak can also understand other creatures in the forest and even gets feelings from the trees.
They are accused of killing another clan’s deer and taken prisoner to the camp of the Raven Clan. Torak vanquishes the chief’s nephew in single combat. He learns that the chief was a friend of his father’s. Meanwhile clan leaders must decide whether or not he is the Listener, destined to travel to the Mountian and save the clans and forest. While they try to decide if he must journey to the mountain or just his blood, he is rescued by Renn, a young girl and master archer. Now they are on the quest for “Deepest of all, the drowned sight. Oldest of all, the stone bite. Coldest of all, the darkest light.” They must find the three objects, take them to the holy place, and vanqusih evil. He braves going over a waterfall and almost drowning, journeying into a deep cave filled with bats and crossing a glacier. They are helped by the wise advice of his father, the Raven clan’s mage (shaman), and the chief of the Raven Clan. Renn is his companion on the journey even though she is not portrayed as a love interest. The wolf is their spirit guide. I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish this and I can hardly wait to read the Spirit Walker. I think tween boys would especially enjoy this book, even though it was recommended to me by my daughter. She also enjoys Erin Hunter’s books about Clans of cats (WARRIORS).
ISBN 0-06-072826-4, 295 pages.