Soul Eater (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series #3)
  • Soul Eater (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series #3)
  • Soul Eater (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series #3)

Soul Eater (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series #3)

4.7 20
by Michelle Paver, Geoff Taylor

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It's winter, and Wolf, Torak's beloved pack-brother, has been captured by an unknown foe. In a desperate bid to rescue him, Torak and Renn must brave the frozen wilderness of the Far North.

As they battle for survival amid howling blizzards and the ever-present menace of the great white bear, their friendship is tested to the breaking point, and Torak is… See more details below

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It's winter, and Wolf, Torak's beloved pack-brother, has been captured by an unknown foe. In a desperate bid to rescue him, Torak and Renn must brave the frozen wilderness of the Far North.

As they battle for survival amid howling blizzards and the ever-present menace of the great white bear, their friendship is tested to the breaking point, and Torak is forced to get closer to his enemies than ever before...

Soul Eater is a haunting story of loyalty and loss, a chilling portrayal of the nature of evil, and the next step in the perilous journey that began with Wolf Brother and Spirit Walker.

Editorial Reviews

James Hynes
Paver's prose is clean and energetic, and everybody speaks in a straightforward, uninflected idiom, but the reader never loses the sense that this is a very different world from our own, where the tasks necessary for the characters' survival are connected to their spiritual practice. The heart of the clans' belief system is that each person and animal possesses three souls—a name soul, a clan soul and a world soul—which makes the threat posed by the Soul-Eaters even more chilling. Paver skillfully conjures this mysticism, taking the beliefs of Torak and Renn at face value but largely avoiding any heavy-handed, special-effects-ready incursions of "magic." She relies instead on the much more convincing magic of nature itself, producing a vivid (and apparently scrupulously researched) portrayal of a world where hunters thank the beast they've killed for its sacrifice, and where a fire is not just started, but woken up.
—The New York Times
VOYA - Nancy K. Wallace
When Wolf runs ahead of Torak and Renn on a hunting expedition, the thirteen-year-olds never dream that he has been captured by Soul-Eaters until they find blood staining the snow and footprints leading off to the north. Falling snow obscures the trail, and they are unprepared to face the hardships of days and nights out in the open. Aided by Inuktiluk, a member of the White Fox clan, they paddle a skin boat across the half-frozen sea to a cave in the mountains. Here the Soul-Eaters have gathered to sacrifice the nine hunters that they have captured (an owl, lynx, wolf, bear, wolverine, eagle, fox, otter, and a man) in a cruel and bloody ceremony that will open the Door to the Otherworld. Torak thwarts their plan by releasing the remaining animals after the sacrifices have begun, while Renn steals the fire-opal necessary to complete the ceremony. Escaping by boat with the Soul-Eaters pursuing, they face a final confrontation where the destruction of the fire-opal seals the Door to the Otherworld. Torak's dark primeval world, where primitive clans inhabit the earth at the whim of the World Spirit, packs enough danger and action to hold any young readers' attention. Extensive research into northern Europe 6,000 years after the ice age imbues this series with a rich realism and authenticity. The author's Web site includes "clan-forums" and a role-playing game. A fourth book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness is planned.
Children's Literature - Kelly Grebinoski
Everyone knows how tragic it is to lose someone or something close to you. In Soul Eater, the third installment of the "Chronicles of Ancient Darkness," Torak and Wolf (introduced in volumes one and two) are together again. This book (number three of six) starts in the middle of the action. There is a kidnapping of the nine animals (whose significance is explained in previous volumes), and Torak and Renn are forced to go into the winter wilderness—to the extreme Far North—to face some dangerous situations. Torak also has to outsmart the evil Soul Eater mages, and his strength is really put to the test. The mages plan to rule the forest using demons and souls. Can he save his pack-brother, Wolf, in the midst of danger? Can he face the peril of Mother Nature and come out alive? There are twists and turns in this fast-paced novel. The dialogue is intriguing, the details draw in the reader, and the characters are brought to life. New readers to the series will even be interested in reading the previous two books. The story deals with the themes of friendship, survival, power, and good versus evil.
KLIATT - Michele Winship
The third installment of seven in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series finds Torak, Renn and Wolf being torn apart by the very enemies who destroyed Torak's father and now seek to wreck havoc across the land—the Soul-Eaters. Again, the setting is in the far North, and the struggle to survive in the harsh and unforgiving cold is the conflict lurking just beneath the surface of this action-packed tale. The Soul-Eaters are mages who have turned to the dark, and they are capturing spirit animals, including Wolf, for a series of sacrifices that will open the door to the underworld, releasing scores of demons to flood the land with terror. Torak and Renn must overcome not only the dark magic, but also the ever-shifting icescape of crevasses and frigid sea. Paver's careful research and attention to detail create the vivid ice-bound world of the tribes of the far north, their daily rituals, their beliefs, and the animals they revere and with whom they share the land. The underground catacomb Paver creates for the Soul-Eaters' dark rite is a stunning contrast to the world above, and the juxtaposition of these two settings, along with the alternating narration, only increases the suspense. Readers will be on the edge of their seats time and again, and definitely eager for the adventures to come in the next book.
Children's Literature - Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
This is the third book in the "Chronicles of Ancient Darkness" series. Wolf disappears, and Torak realizes almost immediately that something is wrong. He and Renn discover Wolf has been captured and taken deep into the frozen winter wilderness. Along the way, the friends must decide how to protect themselves from the elements and the dangers posed by the animals and humans they encounter. Perhaps most dangerous of all are the Soul Eaters, and the Soul Eaters have taken Wolf! Will Torak and Renn be able to save their friend, or will the obstacles they face destroy their friendship? Torak must also struggle with deciding how close he will be able to come to his enemies without losing his sense of self. Told alternatively from Torak's, Renn's, and even Wolf's points of view, the story provides entertaining characters and an exciting pace that is sure to engage readers. Fans of the first two volumes in the series are sure to enjoy this new installment.
School Library Journal

Gr 5 Up
Michelle Paver's novel (Katherine Tegen Books, 2007) opens with the stillness of three friends' hunt for prey in the snowy woods, and very shortly one of them is captured. In a lovingly described post-Ice Age world, Torak and Renn set out to recover Wolf, Torak's pack-brother. Boy, girl, and wolf have faced physical hardship, human evil, and the darkness of otherworldly demons before, but this time they're in a race for Wolf's life, as Soul-Eaters plot to break down the barrier with the Otherworld. On the blinding white fields of the far north, the friends face killing blizzards, treacherous ice, tests of friendship and trust, and ravenous ice bears, and Torak is finally forced to confront his powers as a spirit walker. The third volume in the six-book series delivers convincing shifts from quiet reflection to heart-stopping action, strong characters, deft writing, and a well-researched prehistoric world in which dark magic is based on myth. Ian McKellen masterfully narrates with pacing that savors the quiet moments and heightens the drama. With each book the series darkens and deepens, as Torak learns more about himself and his heritage. The novel will appeal to both younger and older YA readers as it seamlessly weaves together adventure, survival, anthropology, the wild, and a young man struggling to find his place in the world.
—Alicia ConklinCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
The third episode (of a planned six) in this prehistoric epic continues its predecessors' quick pacing, vivid storytelling and strong connections between human characters and the natural world. When his beloved four-legged companion Wolf is captured by the dreaded Soul Eaters, two-legged Torak pursues past the forests he knows so well and out onto the bitterly hostile northern ice fields. With help from a small band of friendly ice-dwellers, Torak and his loyal if contentious friend Renn learn the requisite survival skills (with plenty of narrow squeaks), and rescue Wolf from a planned blood sacrifice intended to release a horde of demons into this world. But the demons are released anyway, requiring the sacrifice of a life to imprison them again. Once again, Paver tells the tale from both animal and human perspectives, cranks up the suspense and takes her young heroes through deadly encounters with storms, bears (here, polar bears) and spirits, then closes with the revelation of further challenges to be faced in battling the Soul Eaters. Compelling from first page to last. (Fantasy. 11-13)
New York Times Book Review
“‘Soul Eater’ is perhaps the most thrilling with a satisfyingly twisty plot and some genuine surprises.”
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“Packs enough danger and action to hold any young readers’ attention.”

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series, #3
690L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chronicles of Ancient Darkness #3: Soul Eater

By Michelle Paver

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 Michelle Paver
All right reserved.

Chapter One

Torak didn't want it to be an omen.

He didn't want it to be anything more than an owl feather lying in the snow. So he ignored it. That was his first mistake.

Quietly, he went back to the tracks they'd been following since dawn. They looked fresh. He slipped off his mitten and felt them. No ice in the bottom. Yes, fresh.

Turning to Renn, farther uphill, he tapped his sleeve and raised his forefinger, then pointed down into the beech wood. One reindeer, heading south.

Renn gave a nod, whipped an arrow from her quiver, and nocked it to her bow. Like Torak, she was hard to see in a pale reindeer-hide parka and leggings, with wood ash smeared on her face to mask her scent. Like him, she was hungry, having eaten nothing since a slip of dried boar meat for daymeal.

Unlike him, she hadn't seen the owl feather.

So don't tell her, he thought.

That was his second mistake.

A few paces below him, Wolf was sniffing at a patch where the reindeer had scraped away the snow to get at the lichen. His ears were pricked, his silver fur fluffed up with excitement. If he sensed Torak's unease, he didn't show it. Another sniff, then he raised his muzzle to catch the scent-laden breeze, and his amber gaze grazed Torak's. Smells bad.

Torak tilted his head. What do you mean? he asked inwolf talk.

Wolf twitched his whiskers. Bad muzzle.

Torak went to examine what he'd found, and spotted a tiny bead of yellow pus on the bare earth. Wolf was telling him that the reindeer was old, its teeth rotten after many winters of munching gritty lichen.

Torak wrinkled his nose in a brief wolf smile. Thank you, pack-brother. Then he glanced at Renn, and headed downhill as silently as his beaver-hide boots would allow.

Not silently enough for Wolf, who flicked a reproachful ear as he moved over the snow as soundlessly as smoke.

Together they crept between the sleeping trees. Black oaks and silvery beeches glittered with frost. Here and there Torak saw the crimson blaze of holly berries; the deep green of a wakeful spruce standing guard over its slumbering sisters. The Forest was hushed. The rivers were frozen. Most of the birds had flown south.

Except for that owl, thought Torak.

He'd known it was an owl's feather as soon as he'd seen its furry upper side, which muffled the sound of flight when the owl was hunting. If it had been the dusky gray of a Forest owl, he wouldn't have worried; he'd simply have given it to Renn, who used them to fletch her arrows. But this feather was barred with black and tawny; shadow and flame. That told Torak it belonged to the greatest, the fiercest of owls: the eagle owl. And to find one of those--that was bad.

Wolf's black nose twitched.

Torak was instantly alert.

Through the trees, he glimpsed the reindeer, nibbling beard-moss. He heard the crunch of its hooves, saw its misting breath. Good, they were still downwind. He forgot the feather, and thought of juicy meat and rich marrowfat.

Behind him, the faint creak of Renn's bow. He fitted an arrow to his own, then realized he was blocking her view, and dropped to one knee, since she was the better shot.

The reindeer moved behind a beech tree. They'd have to wait.

As Torak waited, he noticed a spruce, five paces below him. The way it spread its snow-laden arms . . . warning him back.

Gripping his bow, he fixed his gaze on the prey.

A gust of wind stirred the beeches around him, and last summer's leaves rustled like dry, dead hands.

He swallowed. It felt as if the Forest were trying to tell him something.

Overhead a branch shifted, and a flurry of snow hissed down. He glanced up. His heart jerked. An eagle owl. Tufted ears as sharp as spearpoints. Huge orange eyes like twin suns. With a cry he leaped to his feet.

The reindeer fled.

Wolf raced off in pursuit.

Renn's arrow sped past Torak's hood.

The eagle owl spread its enormous wings and silently flew away.

"What were you doing?" shouted Renn furiously. "Standing up like that? I might have killed you!"

Torak didn't reply. He was watching the eagle owl soar into the fierce blue of the noonday sky. But eagle owls, he thought, hunt by night.

Wolf came bounding through the trees and skittered to a halt beside him, shaking off snow and lashing his tail. He hadn't expected to catch the reindeer, but he'd enjoyed the chase.

Sensing Torak's unease, he rubbed against him. Torak knelt, burying his face in the deep, coarse scruff; breathing in Wolf's familiar sweet-grass scent.

"What's wrong?" said Renn.

Torak raised his head. "That owl, of course."

"What owl?"

He blinked. "But you must have seen it. The eagle owl--it was so close I could have touched it!"

When she still looked blank, he ran back up the hill and found the feather. "Here," he panted, holding it out.

Wolf flattened his ears and growled.

Renn put her hand to her clan-creature feathers.

"What does it mean?" said Torak.

"I don't know, but it's bad. We should get back. Fin-Kedinn will know what to do. And Torak"--she eyed the feather--"leave it here."

As he threw it into the snow, he wished he hadn't picked it up with his bare hand. A fine gray powder dusted his palm. He wiped it off on his parka, but his skin carried a whiff of rottenness that reminded him of the Raven bone-grounds.

Suddenly Wolf gave a grunt, and pricked his ears.

"What's he smelled?" said Renn. She didn't speak wolf talk, but she knew Wolf.

Torak frowned. "I don't know." Wolf's tail was high, but he wasn't giving any of the prey signals Torak recognized.

Strange prey, Wolf told him, and he realized that Wolf was puzzled too.


Excerpted from Chronicles of Ancient Darkness #3: Soul Eater by Michelle Paver Copyright © 2007 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.

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