Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Wolf Brother is the first book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series. I was looking for something different to read when I saw a set of books tied up with a length of orange ribbon at a flea market. At $15, I think I snagged a bargain as I got all six books for that low price. The books were in fairly good condition too. Double bargain!
I actually finished reading the book on 24 November 2012, but have only just now had the time to write a review.
Thousands of years ago the land is one dark forest. Its people are hunter-gatherers. They know every tree and herb and they know how to survive in a time of enchantment and powerful magic. Until an ambitious and malevolent force conjures a demon: a demon so evil that it can be contained only in the body of a ferocious bear that will slay everything it sees, a demon determined to destroy the world.
Only one boy can stop it—12 year old Torak, who has seen his father murdered by the bear. With his dying breath, Torak’s father tells his son of the burden that is his. He must lead the bear to the mountain of the World Spirit and beg that spirit’s help to overcome it.
Torak is an unwilling hero. He is scared and trusts no one. His only companion is a wolf cub only three moons old, whom he seems to understand better than any human.
Theirs is a terrifying quest in a world of wolves, tree spirits and Hidden People, a world in which trusting a friend means risking your life.
Wolf Brother reminded me of Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children series. However, where Earth’s Children is written for adults, the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness is written for children (9+).
It’s a story of a 12 year-old boy trying to save the world. Everyone seems to know more about him than he does himself, because he’s led a secluded life. His father was trying to protect him, but after his father is fatally wounded Torak must find out, fast, what his destiny is.
The book grabbed me from the first chapter. I was actually reading another book at the time and only opened this book for a quick look—and before I knew it I’d read three chapters. It’s the first time I’ve officially read two books at the same time.
The story is set 6,000 years ago when people had a close awareness of the Earth and of nature. A time when the characters believe everything—including rocks, trees, plants—are alive and must be respected. This, mixed with magic, makes a very interesting world indeed.
Torak’s closest companion is a wolf; hence the title of the book—Wolf Brother. The bond between them is shaky to begin with and I believe Torak’s change of attitude towards the wolf pup wasn’t altogether convincing. But that is my only negative towards the book really so that in itself shows the book is good.
Torak’s other companion is Renn, a girl of about the same age. Renn is confident and knowledgeable. Torak learns a lot from her. They make a good contrast and must learn to trust each other, no matter how reluctantly.
The story itself is well written and full enough to allow imagery to form in the reader’s mind, without being too descriptive that it becomes cumbersome and boring. And although the storylines didn’t feel complex because of the way they were written (remember, this is a book for children), they were still full and complete, and very easy to read.
Wolf Brother is a book where time passes quickly as the reader is absorbed into a colourful world. And before you know it the book has ended and you find you just have to grab the next book in the series and continue reading. And that’s exactly what I did.