Wolf Brother (Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series #1)

( 83 )


The epic journey of boy and wolf begins

Six thousand years ago. Evil stalks the land. According to legend, only twelve-year-old Torak and his wolf-cub companion can defeat it. Their journey together takes them through deep forests, across giant glaciers, and into dangers they never imagined. Torak and Wolf are terrified of their mission. But if they do not battle to save their world, who will?

6,000 years in the past, ...

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The epic journey of boy and wolf begins

Six thousand years ago. Evil stalks the land. According to legend, only twelve-year-old Torak and his wolf-cub companion can defeat it. Their journey together takes them through deep forests, across giant glaciers, and into dangers they never imagined. Torak and Wolf are terrified of their mission. But if they do not battle to save their world, who will?

6,000 years in the past, twelve-year-old Torak and his guide, a wolf cub, set out on a dangerous journey to fulfill an oath the boy made to his dying father--to travel to the Mountain of the World Spirit seeking a way to destroy a demon-possessed bear that threatens all the clans.

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Editorial Reviews

Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“The story…glides on lines of smooth prose”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"The story…glides on lines of smooth prose"
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“The story…glides on lines of smooth prose”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“The story…glides on lines of smooth prose”
Publishers Weekly
PW called this first book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, set in a primeval forest some 6,000 years ago, "part rite-of-passage saga, part riveting nature story." Ages 10-up. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Young Torak is of an ancient world where people live in clans and life is mystically entwined with the natural world and its spirits. Trees and animals have souls, and frightening specters lurk in shadows. After his father is killed by a demon-possessed bear, Torak begins a predestined trek in pursuit of the animal, which threatens all existence in the forest. His guide is a wolf—with whom he is able to speak—and his other companion a strong-willed, able girl named Renn. The constant dangers they face keep the story moving, though the action sometimes feels rushed, making many of the intricate situations hard to fully grasp. The images of clan culture and hunter-gatherer life, though, are fascinating and well-presented. Kids will like the uniqueness and resourcefulness of the primeval clans, and the interesting descriptions of survival skills. The narratives told from the perspective of the wolf are especially well-done. When, in the end, Torak handily accomplishes his difficult mission, many mysteries are resolved. Other threads, though, are left dangling, presumably to be picked up in future volumes—there are five more books planned in "The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness" series. The ten-and-up target audience suggested by the publisher seems a stretch, since the writing lacks the cleverness and sophistication to keep the interest of teens and adults. It is the middle-grade reader—especially one who favors wildlife and adventure stories—who will find this an excellent journey. 2005 (orig. 2004), HarperCollins, Ages 8 to 12.
—Jane Harrington
School Library Journal
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.
Kirkus Reviews
Grandiose series title aside, this first of a projected six episodes makes a muddled but strong start, pitting its young stone-age protagonist against a ravening, ensorcelled bear. Having learned of an oblique prophecy that describes him as the only one who can take on the unnatural bear who orphaned him-and is wantonly killing the great forest's denizens-Torak sets out to find three pieces of the Nanuak, or World Soul, that will allow him to enlist the help of the World Spirit. Accompanied by Wolf, an orphaned cub with eldritch knowledge, and Renn, spirited niece of a local clan leader, Torak survives a host of vividly envisioned dangers while displaying outstanding survival skills. Ultimately, he discovers that the bear (probably dispatched in a climactic encounter) had been created by one of a band of evil mages-each of whom will doubtless appear in a subsequent adventure. By the end, readers will have a real feeling for what life in the wild must have been like, and will be looking forward to Torak's further exploits. (Fiction. 11-13)
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)
“The stark, primitive setting provides an innovative contrast to most fantasies…This fast–moving story with engaging characters will appeal.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060728274
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/21/2006
  • Series: Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series , #1
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 64,134
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 660L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.64 (d)

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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First Chapter

Chapter One

Torak woke with a jolt from a sleep he'd never meant to have.

The fire had burned low. He crouched in the fragile shell of light and peered into the looming blackness of the Forest. He couldn't see anything. Couldn't hear anything. Had it come back? Was it out there now, watching him with its hot, murderous eyes?

He felt hollow and cold. He knew that he badly needed food, and that his arm hurt, and his eyes were scratchy with tiredness, but he couldn't really feel it. All night he'd guarded the wreck of the spruce bough shelter and watched his father bleed. How could this be happening?

Only yesterday -- yesterday -- they'd pitched camp in the blue autumn dusk. Torak had made a joke, and his father was laughing. Then the Forest exploded. Ravens screamed. Pines cracked. And out of the dark beneath the trees surged a deeper darkness: a huge rampaging menace in bear form.

Suddenly death was upon them. A frenzy of claws. A welter of sound to make the ears bleed. In a heartbeat, the creature had smashed their shelter to splinters. In a heartbeat, it had ripped a ragged wound in his father's side. Then it was gone, melting into the Forest as silently as mist.

But what kind of bear stalks men -- then vanishes without making the kill? What kind of bear plays with its prey?

And where was it now?

Torak couldn't see beyond the firelight, but he knew that the clearing, too, was a wreck of snapped saplings and trampled bracken. He smelled pine-blood and clawed earth. He heard the soft, sad bubbling of the stream thirty paces away. The bear could be anywhere.

Beside him, his father moaned. Slowly he opened his eyes and looked at his son without recognition.

Torak's heart clenched. "Fa, it -- it's me," he stammered. "How do you feel?"

Pain convulsed his father's lean brown face. His cheeks were tinged with gray, making the clan-tattoos stand out lividly. Sweat matted his long dark hair.

His wound was so deep that as Torak clumsily stanched it with beard-moss, he saw his father's guts glistening in the firelight. He had to grit his teeth to keep from retching. He hoped Fa didn't notice -- but of course he did. Fa was a hunter. He noticed everything.

"Torak..." he breathed. His hand reached out, his hot fingers clinging to Torak's as eagerly as a child. Torak swallowed. Sons clutch their fathers' hands, not the other way around.

He tried to be practical: to be a man instead of a boy. "I've still got some yarrow leaves," he said, fumbling for his medicine pouch with his free hand. "Maybe that'll stop the--"

"Keep it. You're bleeding too."

"Doesn't hurt," lied Torak. The bear had thrown him against a birch tree, bruising his ribs and gashing his left forearm.

"Torak -- leave. Now. Before it comes back."

Torak stared at him. He opened his mouth but no sound came.

"You must," said his father.

"No. No. I can't--"

"Torak -- I'm dying. I'll be dead by sunrise."

Torak gripped the medicine pouch. There was a roaring in his ears. "Fa--"

"Give me -- what I need for the Death Journey. Then get your things."

The Death Journey. No. No.

But his father's face was stern. "My bow," he said. "Three arrows. You -- keep the rest. Where I'm going -- hunting's easy."

There was a tear in the knee of Torak's buckskin leggings. He dug his thumbnail into the flesh. It hurt. He forced himself to concentrate on that.

"Food," gasped his father. "The dried meat. You -- take it all."

Torak's knee had started to bleed. He kept digging. He tried not to picture his father on the Death Journey. He tried not to picture himself alone in the Forest. He was only twelve summers old. He couldn't survive on his own. He didn't know how.

"Torak! Move!"

Blinking furiously, Torak reached for his father's weapons and laid them by his side. He divided up the arrows, pricking his fingers on the sharp flint points. Then he shouldered his quiver and bow and scrabbled in the wreckage for his small black basalt axe. His hazelwood pack had been smashed in the attack; he'd have to cram everything else into his jerkin, or tie it to his belt.

He reached for his reindeer-hide sleeping sack.

"Take mine," murmured his father. "You never did -- repair yours. And -- swap knives."

Torak was aghast. "Not your knife! You'll need it!"

"You'll need it more. And -- it'll be good to have something of yours on the Death-Journey."

"Fa, please. Don't--"

In the Forest, a twig snapped.

Torak spun round.


Just the crackle of the fire and the thud of his heart.

His father licked the sweat from his lips. "It's not here yet," he said. "Soon. It will come for me soon.... Quick. The knives."

Clenching his jaw so hard that it hurt, Torak took his own knife and put it into Fa's hand. Then he untied the buckskin sheath from his father's belt. Fa's knife was beautiful and deadly, with a blade of banded blue slate shaped like a willow leaf, and a haft of red deer antler that was bound with elk sinew for a better grip. As Torak looked down at it, the truth hit him. He was getting ready for a life without Fa. "I'm not leaving you!" he cried. "I'll fight it, I--"

"No! No one can fight this bear!"

Ravens flew up from the trees.

"Listen to me," hissed his father. "A bear -- any bear -- is the strongest hunter in the Forest. You know that. But this bear -- much stronger."

Torak felt the hairs on his arms rise. Looking down into his father's eyes, he saw the tiny scarlet veins and, at the centers, the fathomless dark. "What do you mean?" he whispered.

"It is -- possessed." His father's face was grim; he didn't seem like Fa anymore. "Some -- demon -- from the Otherworld -- has entered it and made it evil."

An ember spat. The dark trees leaned closer to listen.

"A demon?" said Torak.

His father shut his eyes, mustering his strength. "It lives only to kill," he said at last. "With each kill -- its power will grow. It will slaughter -- everything. The prey. The clans. All will die. The Forest will die..." He broke off. "In one moon -- it will be too late. The demon -- too strong."

"One moon? But what--"

"Think, Torak! When the red eye is highest in the night sky, that's when demons are strongest. You know this. That's when the bear will be -- invincible." He fought for breath. In the firelight, Torak saw the pulse beating in his throat. So faint: as if it might stop at any moment. "I need you -- to swear something," said Fa.


Fa swallowed. "Head north. Many daywalks. Find -- the Mountain -- of the World Spirit."

Torak stared at him. What?

His father's eyes opened, and he gazed into the branches overhead, as if he saw things there that no one else could. "Find it," he said again. "It's the only hope."

"But -- no one's ever found it. No one can."

"You can."

"How? I don't--"

"Your guide -- will find you."

Torak was bewildered. Never before had his father talked like this. He was a practical man; a hunter. "I don't understand any of this!" he cried. "What guide? Why must I find the Mountain? Will I be safe there? Is that it? Safe from the bear?"

Slowly, Fa's gaze left the sky and came to rest on his son's face. He looked as if he was wondering how much more Torak could take. "Ah, you're too young," he said. "I thought I had more time. So much I haven't told you. Don't-don't hate me for that later."

Torak looked at him in horror. Then he leaped to his feet. "I can't do this on my own. Shouldn't I try to find--"

"No!" said his father with startling force. "All your life I've kept you apart. Even -- from our own Wolf Clan. Stay away from men! If they find out-what you can do..."

"What do you mean? I don't--"

"No time," his father cut in. "Now swear. On my knife. Swear that you will find the Mountain, or die trying."

Torak bit his lip hard. East through the trees, a gray light was growing. Not yet, he thought in panic. Please not yet.

"Swear," hissed his father.

Torak knelt and picked up the knife. It was heavy: a man's knife, too big for him. Awkwardly he touched it to the wound on his forearm. Then he put it to his shoulder, where the strip of wolf fur, his clan-creature, was sewn to his jerkin. In an unsteady voice he took his oath. "I swear, by my blood on this blade, and by each of my three souls -- that I will find the Mountain of the World Spirit. Or die trying."

His father breathed out. "Good. Good. Now. Put the Death Marks on me. Hurry. The bear -- not far off."

Torak felt the salty sting of tears. Angrily he brushed them away. "I haven't got any ochre," he mumbled.

"Take -- mine."

In a blur, Torak found the little antler-tine medicine horn that had been his mother's. In a blur, he yanked out the black oak stopper, and shook some of the red ochre into his palm.

Suddenly he stopped. "I can't."

"You can. For me."

Torak spat into his palm and made a sticky paste of the ochre, the dark-red blood of the earth, then he drew the small circles on his father's skin that would help the souls recognize each other and stay together after death.

First, as gently as he could, he removed his father's beaver-hide boots and drew a circle on each heel, to mark the name-soul. Then he drew another circle over the heart, to mark the clan-soul. This wasn't easy, as his father's chest was scarred from an old wound, so Torak managed only a lopsided oval. He hoped that would be good enough.

Last, he made the most important mark of all: a circle on the forehead to mark the Nanuak, the world-soul. By the time he'd finished, he was swallowing tears.

"Better," murmured his father. But Torak saw with a clutch of terror that the pulse in his throat was fainter.

"Fa, I'm not leaving you, I--"

"Torak. You swore an oath." Again he closed his eyes. "Now. You -- keep the medicine horn. I don't need it anymore. Take your things. Fetch me water from the river. Then -- go."

I will not cry, Torak told himself as he rolled up his father's sleeping sack and tied it across his back; jammed his axe into his belt; stuffed his medicine pouch into his jerkin.

He got to his feet and looked about for the waterskin. It was ripped to shreds. He'd have to bring water in a dock leaf. He was about to go when his father murmured his name.

Torak turned. "Yes, Fa?"

"Remember. When you're hunting, look behind you. I -- always tell you." He forced a smile. "You always -- forget. Look behind you. Yes?"

Torak nodded. He tried to smile back. Then he blundered through the wet bracken toward the stream.

The light was growing, and the air smelled fresh and sweet. Around him the trees were bleeding: oozing golden pine-blood from the slashes the bear had inflicted. Some of the tree-spirits were moaning quietly in the dawn breeze.

Torak reached the stream. Glancing quickly around, he snatched a dock leaf and moved forward, his boots sinking into the soft red mud.

He froze.

Beside his right boot was the track of a bear. A front paw: twice the size of his own head, and so fresh that he could see the points where the long, vicious claws had bitten deep into the mud.

Look behind you, Torak.

He spun round.

Willows. Alder. Fir.

Dark yew. Dripping spruce. Dense. Impenetrable.

But deep within -- no more than ten paces away -- a stir of branches. Something was in there. Something huge.

Torak forced himself to stay still. Don't run. Don't run. Maybe it doesn't know you're here.

A low hiss. Again the branches stirred.

He heard the stealthy rustle as the creature moved toward the shelter: toward his father. He waited in rigid silence as it passed. Coward! he shouted inside his head. You let it go without even trying to save Fa!

But what could you do? said the small part of his mind that could still think straight. Fa knew this would happen. That's why he sent you for water. He knew it was coming for him....

"Torak!" came his father's wild cry. "Run!"

Crows burst from the trees. A roar shook the Forest -- on and on till Torak's head was splitting.

"Fa!" he screamed.


Again the Forest shook. Again came his father's cry. Then suddenly it broke off.

Through the trees, he glimpsed a great dark shadow in the wreck of the shelter.

He turned and ran.

Wolf Brother © 2005 by Michelle Paver
All rights reserved.
HarperCollinsChildren's Books

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 83 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 83 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2008

    Great Book/Series!!!!

    My 9 year old son LOVED Wolf Brother, Spirit Walker, Soul Eater and Outsider. He could not wait to read each book!!! Prior to these books, he refused to do independent reading. I caught him reading under his comforter after lights out. How WONDERFUL!!!!!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    I loved this book.
    I wasn't familiarized with the series or the author but now I'm hooked.
    Great story. Exciting read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2008

    The best books ever!

    This book Wolf Brother is the best books ever! I read all of the books . I am still reading OUTCAST. I am like the only girl reading these books. My favorite animal is a wolf. I have had a wolf in my past life. But I still have wolves with me. They are wild wolves they attack everybody but me! Every body calls me The Wolfwoman! I can talk wolf and run like a wolf. I am 11 years old and I am writing my own story about me becoming The Wolfwoman. I am going back to the books. My favorite porsen in the books are Renn. You have to read to read these books!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2008


    This is one of those novels that won´t let you sleep until you finish it. Michelle Paver has the ability to transport you to the prehistoric ages, live the traditions, costumes, and believes. She will make you feel like Torak, a simple 12 years old boy of the Wolf Clan that only has a wolf cub. You will feel the woods walking, the fight in the Crow Clan, and the challenges you must endure and pass with Renn to collect the 3 charms you need to defeat the Terrible Bear. If you love the adventures and the nature, this book will hook you until the last page, enjoying it until the last phrase of this book, one of the best I have ever read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2008


    OMG. I have read this book two times and it is still exciting. If anyone hasn't read it, READ IT NOW (except my sister). I have always dreamed of living out in the forest just like Torak does. Except for the demon bear and the soul eaters. I am so crazy about this book I went on wikapedia and looked it up. I HAVE GOT TO READ THE NEXT ONE NOW!!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2008

    Chronicles of Ancient Darkness

    This book was great! If you like action books set in a more primitive world, then this is the book for you. Torak, his wolf cub, whom he named Wolf, and a girl named Renn are out to destroy a man eating bear that killed Torack's father.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2006

    recommended/okay not great

    Not the best book I have read, but...It was good. It was kind of unique that Wolf called Torak 'Tall Tailess', but...If you are looking for a book to pass the time here it is. It wasn't very realistic about the bear--what does it symbolize--death? And all of the 'SUSPENSE' stuff is comepletely pointless. I got this at the bookstore, but I might not get the second one in the series. This really deserves 3.5 stars, but...who cares. This, again, was not the best book I have read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2012

    I loved this book, in fact I couldn't believe when I had finishe

    I loved this book, in fact I couldn't believe when I had finished it. It is well written and keeps you on your toes. There is imagination put into every page. I keep buggint my mom to get me the next book in the series. It is just an incredible book. I highly recommend for any teen or anybody who likes creative, suspense stories.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful story of the past!

    I honestly love these series. It is seriously one of the most amazing books i've ever read! It can be a little confusing, what with how it is all set thousands of years in the past, but the plot is fantastic! The characters are brilliant and the wolf is just absolutely adorable. And the way Paver has been able to write through the wolves eyes at times is genius. I would recommend this book to anyone who like reading about the past and their legends. Or, to anyone really! It's just amazing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2011

    its great for elmentary like 4th through 6th grade

    its a great book specially for the animal lover type a little sad at the begining but overall good. before i had a nook the lady at the libary told me i couldnt check it out any more cause i had checked it out so much. i really love this book.but i hate this because i cannot find it on my nook .hey write a comment if you do plz

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  • Posted March 18, 2011

    The Best Book I Ever Read!

    I just LOVE this book! As soon as i was dine with the first book in the series all i wanted was more! So full of adventure! The only reason i registerd to this site is so i could buy the books at a cheaper price! Hope you read the book! Thanks for reading!

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  • Posted November 15, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Survival Adventure Series

    Title/Series: Chronicles of Ancient Darkness - #1 Wolf Brother Author: Michelle Paver Pages: 320 pages Copyright Date: 2004 Reading Level: 5th grade Interest Level: 6th - 8th grade Summary: Six thousand years ago, twelve year old Torak is suddenly alone when his father dies. Torak is now on his own with an impossible mission to complete. He must find the Mountain of the World Spirit to stop the evil demon bear from destroying the world. Torak bonds with a wolf cub who will be his guide to the Mountain or death. Educational: Good - well researched information on the lives of people 6,000 years ago. Content: Good - the action makes the reader want to keep reading, theme of being respectful to nature Message: Average- courage and resourcefulness are useful throughout life

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  • Posted April 13, 2010

    Wolf Brother

    Wolf Brother is one of the best books I have ever read.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great book and an excellent reading!

    I'm not much of an audiobook listener and probably never would have picked this up if it hadn't been for a school assignment. And while it did take me some time to get used to listening to my book rather than reading it, before too long I was completely sucked into the story. Wolf Brother is, itself, an action-packed adventure embellished with primeval history, mysticism, and mystery, and Ian McKellan's reading effortlessly captures the moments of suspense, Torak's mourning and strength, and the wolf cub's playful fearlessness and animal enthusiasm. After finishing the book in this format, I can't imagine not experiencing the sequels the same way!

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  • Posted December 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Excellent Book To Excite Reading for Boys and Girls

    This entire series is excellent in getting the not so interested youth reader into not wanting to put the book down and moving right through the entire series. Also a great book for parents to read with or after their kids read to share stories, life lessons, etc. There are six books in the series and they are published in the U.K. first then come to the states. All excellent. Also check out www.torak.net

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  • Posted November 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:


    Toark was a unforgetable charcter. This book was intersting and fun to read. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a great read and wolves.

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  • Posted April 10, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Emotional Roller coaster!!

    These books describe a boy and his guardian of a quest, you could say. The boy discovers many new things and people he has never encountered before, for his Fa and him have lived apart from the clans forever. On the boys journey he makes enemies that turn out to be friends and friends who turn out to be enemies.

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  • Posted April 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    The book is fabulous. And Paver puts everything together nicely. Even by adding a wolf for Torak, which is a nice touch. Bottom line, good book, with a lot of suspense. It is also a thriller.

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  • Posted March 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Wolf Brother

    It all happened when the bear killed Tork's dad. That is when Tork began his journey to the mountain of world spirit. But then Tork is taken by a nearby clan. But will he escape the mean clan with his new friends, a wolf and a baby cub? Will he or will not be a sacrifice for intruding the raven's territory? If he does escape, he must cross the ice river before the first full moon or he will not be able to kill the bear because it will be invincible! Last, I must tell you that I loved it very much!!! That's why you should read this book!!!!!
    Reviewed by. Scott

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2009

    Its about a boy who survives in the woods on his own. This book was a thriller. I really thought the book was a good one.

    The boy lost his father and survives in the woods on his own with a wolf.I think its cool that the boy lives off the land in basically the middle of no where.This book was a good one. This book had a lot of ups and downs in it. this is my favorite book that I have read yet.This book is the best one of the series

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