Michelle Paver was born in central Africa, but moved to England as a child. After earning a degree in biochemistry from Oxford University, she became a partner in a London law firm, but eventually gave that up to write full-time. Chronicles of Ancient Darkness arises from her lifelong passions for animals, anthropology, and the distant past. It was also inspired by her travels in Norway, Lapland, Iceland, and the Carpathian Mountains--and particularly by an encounter with a large bear in a remote valley in Southern California.
Gr 5-9-Set 6000 years ago, this fast-paced adventure delves into a world of spirits and mysticism not often seen in children's literature. Torak, 12, witnesses his father's brutal attack by a giant, demon-possessed bear and promises to find his way to the Mountain of the World Spirit. Before dying, his father instructs him to avoid other men and tells him that his guide will find him. Sure enough, Torak is soon adopted by a wolf cub, also recently orphaned, with whom he is able to communicate. The bear continues to terrorize the forest, but Torak is able to avoid it with Wolf's help. They are captured by the Wolf clan, who believes that Torak is the Listener, and will rid the forest of the bear when he fulfills a prophecy by delivering three lost artifacts to the mountain. He must solve an obscure riddle to find the artifacts and traverse dangerous lands, all the while evading the evil bear. Paver's depth of research into the spiritual world of primitive peoples makes this impressive British import, slated to be the first in a six-book series, intriguing and believable.-Karen T. Bilton, Somerset County Library, Bridgewater, NJ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Part riveting nature story, part rite of passage saga, Paver's first book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series is set in a primeval forest some 6,000 years ago (according to an author's note). As the novel opens, 12-year-old Torak watches in horror as his father is mauled by a bear that is unnaturally vicious, "possessed... [by] some demon from the Otherworld." Before his father dies, he tells the boy that he must travel north to the Mountain of the World Spirit-and that he must stay away from other people, for reasons he doesn't have time to explain. In his travels, Torak meets a wolf cub, whom he calls Wolf, and readers will likely be charmed by the scenes of their gradual bonding. But after Torak kills a buck, he falls into the hands of the Raven Clan claiming ownership of that part of the forest. When the clansmen learn that the boy can communicate with Wolf, they become convinced that he is the prophesied Listener who "gives his heart's blood to the Mountain" in order to dispel a Shadow that threatens the forest (i.e., the possessed bear). A quest ensues, involving Torak, Wolf and a Raven Clan-girl, Renn. The plot becomes intricate, but remains involving thanks to Paver's unusual setting and eccentric characters, plus the strict rules by which the clans live. Passages from the wolf cub's point of view seem extraneous, but Torak's coming- of- age tale will keep the pages turning. The author reveals many secrets at the end, nicely setting the stage for subsequent volumes. Ages 10-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"Paver's depth of research...makes this impressive British
import...intriguing and believable."--School Library Journal
"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)
"Torak's coming-of-age tale will keep the pages turning."--Publishers Weekly
"The story...glides on lines of smooth prose"--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books