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Outcast (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series #4)
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Outcast (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series #4)

4.8 39
by Michelle Paver, Geoff Taylor (Illustrator)

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Torak crouched on a beach of black sand, his clothes in tatters, his face wild and hopeless as he lashed out with a flaming brand—lashed out at Wolf.

Ior two moons Torak has hidden a terrible secret—and now it is revealed. He bears the mark of the Soul-Eater and must pay the price. Cast out from the clans, he is alone and on the run: cut


Torak crouched on a beach of black sand, his clothes in tatters, his face wild and hopeless as he lashed out with a flaming brand—lashed out at Wolf.

Ior two moons Torak has hidden a terrible secret—and now it is revealed. He bears the mark of the Soul-Eater and must pay the price. Cast out from the clans, he is alone and on the run: cut off from his best friend, Renn, and his beloved pack-brother, Wolf.

In the haunted reed-beds of Lake Axehead he is hunted by the Otter Clan and taunted by the Hidden People and, as soul-sickness claims him, falls prey to an even greater menace. Tormented by secrets and broken trust, he uncovers a deception that will turn his world upside down.

Outcast is a thrilling story of friendship, survival, and the need to belong. Like all the books in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, Outcast explores the complexities of an ancient world filled with good and evil.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The fourth episode in this prehistoric epic pitches young spirit-walker Torak into a struggle to keep his multiple "souls" out of the clutches of the power-mad Viper Mage. Unjustly accused of being a Soul Stealer, Torak is cast out of his clan and summoned by the Mage, who inflicts him with a "soul-sickness" that robs him of his superb woodcraft, his intimate awareness of the world and, almost, his ability to tell good from evil. The vividly interwoven natural and spiritual settings that have distinguished this series emerge in long stretches seen from the point-of-view of Wolf, Torak's faithful four-legged companion. Much of the journey and ensuing confrontation, however, seems distant, filtered through Torak's sharply felt inner turmoil. Paver moves her cast along, springs major revelations and brings everything around right in the end, but the plot's most dramatic elements (notably a major flood that is over in half a page) take a back seat to character development. (Fantasy. 11-13)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series , #4
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
660L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chronicles of Ancient Darkness #4: Outcast
By Michelle Paver
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2008 Michelle Paver
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780060728359

Chapter One

The viper glided down the riverbank and placed its sleek head on the water, and Torak stopped a few paces away to let it drink.

His arms ached from carrying the red deer antlers, so he set them aside and crouched in the bracken to watch. Snakes are wise, and know many secrets. Maybe this one would help him deal with his.

The viper drank with unhurried sips. Raising its head, it regarded Torak, flicking out its tongue to taste his scent. Then it coiled neatly back on itself and vanished into the ferns.

It had given him no sign.

But you don't need a sign, he told himself wearily. You know what to do. Just tell them. Soon as you get back to camp. Just say, "Renn. Fin-Kedinn. Two moons ago, something happened. They held me down, they put a mark on my chest. And now . . ."

No. That wasn't any good. He could picture Renn's face. "I'm your best friend—and you've been lying to me for two whole moons!"

He put his head in his hands.

After a while he heard rustling, and glanced up to see a reindeer on the opposite bank. It was standing on three legs, furiously scratching its budding antlers with one hind hoof. Sensing that Torak wasn't hunting, it went on scratching. The antlers were bleeding: The itch must be so bad that the only relief was to make them hurt.

That's what I should do,thought Torak. Cut it out. Make it hurt. In secret. Then no one need ever know.

The trouble was, even if he could bring himself to do it, it wouldn't work. To get rid of the tattoo, he'd have to perform the proper rite. He'd learned that from Renn, whom he'd approached in a roundabout way, using the zigzag tattoos on her wrists as an excuse.

"If you don't do the rite," she'd told him, "the marks just come back."

"They come back?" Torak had been horrified.

"Of course. You can't see them; they're deep in the marrow. But they're still there."

So that was the end of that, unless he could get her to tell him about the rite without revealing why he needed to know.

The reindeer gave an irritable shake and trotted off into the Forest, and Torak picked up the antlers and started back for camp. They were a lucky find, big enough for everyone in the clan to get a piece, and perfect for making fish-hooks and hammers for knapping flint. Fin-Kedinn would be pleased. Torak tried to fix his mind on that.

It didn't work. Until now, he hadn't understood how much a secret can set you apart. He thought about it all the time, even when he was hunting with Renn and Wolf.

It was early in the Moon of the Salmon Run, and a sharp east wind carried a strong smell of fish. As Torak made his way beneath the pines, his boots crunched on flakes of bark scattered by woodpeckers. To his left, the Green River chattered after its long imprisonment under the ice, while to his right, a rock face rose toward Broken Ridge. In places it was scarred, where the clans had hacked out the red slate which brings hunting luck. He heard the clink of stone on stone. Someone was quarrying.

That should be me, Torak told himself. I should be making a new axe. I should be doing things. "This can't go on," he said out loud.

"You're right," said a voice. "It can't."

They were crouching on a ledge ten paces above him: four boys and two girls, glaring down. The Boar Clan wore their brown hair cut to shoulder length, with bangs; tusks at their necks; stiff hide mantles across their shoulders. The Willows had wovenbark strips sewn in spirals on their jerkins, and three black leaves tattooed on their brows in a permanent frown. All were older than Torak. The boys had wispy beards, and beneath the girls' clan-tattoos, a short red bar showed that they'd had their first moon bleed.

They'd been quarrying: Torak saw stone dust on their buckskins. Just ahead of him, he spotted a tree-trunk ladder, notched with footholds, which they'd propped against the rock face, to climb up to the ledge. But they were no longer interested in slate.

Torak stared back, hoping he didn't look scared. "What do you want?"

Aki, the Boar Clan Leader's son, jerked his head at the antlers. "Those are mine. Put them down."

"No they're not," said Torak. "I found them." To remind them he had weapons, he hoisted his bow on his shoulder and touched the blue slate knife at his hip.

Aki wasn't impressed. "They're mine."

"Which means you stole them," said a Willow girl.

"If that was true," Torak told Aki, "you'd have put your mark on them and I'd have left them alone."

"I did. On the base. You rubbed it off."

"Of course I didn't," said Torak in disgust.

Then he saw what he should have seen before: a smudge of earthblood at the base of one antler, where a boar tusk had been drawn on. His ears burned. "I didn't see it. And I didn't rub it off."

"Then put them down and get out of here," said a boy called Raut, who'd always struck Torak as fairer than most. Unlike Aki, who was spoiling for a fight.

Torak didn't feel like giving him one. "All right," he said briskly. "I made a mistake. Didn't see the mark. They're yours."

"What makes you think it's that easy?" said Aki.

Torak sighed. He'd come across Aki before. A bully: unsure if he was a leader, and desperate to prove it with his fists.

"You think you're special," sneered Aki. "Because Fin-Kedinn took you in, and you can talk to wolves and you're a spirit walker." He raked his fingernails over the scant hairs on his chin, as if checking they were still there. "Truth is, you only live with the Ravens because your own clan's never come near you. And Fin-Kedinn doesn't trust you enough to make you his foster son."


Excerpted from Chronicles of Ancient Darkness #4: Outcast by Michelle Paver Copyright © 2008 by Michelle Paver. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

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.

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Outcast (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series #4) 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This series just keeps getting better! Although I read a lot of series, I usually lose interest after just 2 or 3 books. Often the plot becomes predictable and the writing more haphazard. Not so with Michelle Paver's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series. Outcast is the fourth in the series and my favorite so far. The story picks up right where book 3, Soul Eater, left off without any annoying recap. Torak is quickly outcast from the clans because he bears the mark of the Soul Eaters. Being an outcast is worse than it sounds, by law anyone who sees Torak is now obligated to kill him. On the run, Torak is pursued by the clans, but also by a Soul Eater who is desperate to use his spirit walker power. I found this installment to be intriguing and well-paced, with lots of Paver's incredible world building and character development. Each book reveals more and more about the clans and their belief systems. This time we meet a new clan, The Otters, who have a unique culture dictated by the lake upon which they live. The Stone-Age religion of the clans also plays a major role in the story and is beautifully developed by Paver. The concept of soul-sickness is especially interesting in this book since it causes Torak to forget everything he has ever known about survival in the forest, a major part of his identity. Character development has always been one of the strengths of this series. Although the characters are complete, their development is subtle and doesn't get in the way of the plot. The protagonists Torak, Renn, and Wolf have never become static, even after 4 books. This book does an especially wonderful job of exploring the developments of Renn and Wolf. I enjoyed the shocking revelations about Renn's past and seeing Wolf enter adulthood - caring for wolf pups and enjoying the company of a potential mate. Most important, though, was the plot. This series is dark and Outcast is no different. Although the darkness was less oppressive than in the previous title, Soul Eater, the villain of the book is still incredibly scary. The protagonists are genuinely struggling for survival and I found myself holding the book tightly, worrying over what would happen to these characters I've come to love.
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Crazydude14 More than 1 year ago
This is a great book. It is better than all of the other books in the series. I just started the next book OATH BREAKER today. These are all great books. EVERYONE SHOULD READ THEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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moosesrule882 More than 1 year ago
This is another great book by Michelle Paver. Wolf Brother, Sprit Walker, Soul Eater and Outcast have a special spot in my room. I love them so much! With the revealing of Seshru being Renn's mom really adds to the story. I love how the series has sculpted out. I can't wait for Oath breaker to come out next week!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
bigcatluva13 More than 1 year ago
If you have been following the Chronicals of Ancient Darkness, like me, you will alsolutely LOVE this next book. Paver just keeps getting better as she continues. In this trilling tale, Torak will be in deep trouble and no one is allowed to help him. Along the way, he will find out a shocking secret that will change EVERYTHING.
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GreekCowgirl More than 1 year ago
I have read the entire series and would die for these books. If you like adventure books and dark arts of ancient Americans these books might be for you. I can't even begin to describe this book. It has taught me a lot about myself and how to deal with life it is a book with deep meanings in my opinion.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yes, I enjoy these books. They hit a bit close to me simply because I myself have a wolf thst is named Wolf. Funny, no? I know they are going to make more books because Michelle Paver did an interview about it and you can find it on youtube. It shows a few clips of Ian Mckellen recording the audio book for it, and she herself talks in the interview.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book in the series so far! I couldn't put it down, and now hope that there will be even more of Torak's story. For parents and educators who are not familiar with this series, I implore you to give it a try. It's a great prehistorical adventure story that won't disappoint your young reader (or your for that matter).
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I started the series with Wolf Brother. My aunt gave it to me so I read it and I was hooked. I read Spitit Walker and Soul Eater. I give all of them 5 stars. Michelle Paver has yet to dissapoint so I believe that Outcast will be great. so read it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I needed something to read. and i saw Wolf Brother I had judged it by its cover, and it was a great book!! And I have read the other books and i wounder if this is the last one or not? And Soul Eater was an awsome book. i got so hooked on it!! i cant wait till I get OutCast.X]
Guest More than 1 year ago
i LOVE these books... i picked up Wolf Brother because i had to find a book fast and then... BAM!!! i was hoocked on he series!!! Im going to BUY Outcast Soon. i can wait to read it!!!