Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Book Review- Chronicles of Ancient Darkness

I'm sorry for not having update in awhile! I've been keeping myself busy with this Post Potter Reading Challenge I've inflicted on myself. It seems I'm not going to have as much time to read all the series as I had originally anticipated, but whatev. We'll see how far I can get down the list regardless. Well I've finished yet another one of the series (with seven more to go!) and this time around it was The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. My dear old friend was a bit hesitant on reading this series along side with me because she found the name of the series to be incredibly nerdy sounding and she thought they looked too much like children's books. Well I'll admit that the books are pretty short with rather large font, but that doesn't decrease the quality of the stories non-the-less. So let me give you all a brief overview of the series.

So The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness is set of six fantasy children novels. The story is set back 6000 years ago during the Stone Age in some fictional forest (modeled after several forests in Europe, around Scandanavia. It amazed me how much research the author did for the series). The forest is surrounded by a snowy arctic to the north, the sea to the west, and some mountains kind of Northeast. The six books in the series revolves around a boy named Torak who is twelve at the beginning of the series. The series starts off with Torak and his father, Fa, who was attacked by a demon bear and lay dying. Torak's father tells him the impertinence of him making it to the Mountain of the World Spirit or to die trying. Once Fa dies, Torak is completely alone. All his life, his father moved him around, away from his clan, in order to keep him away from people. His fear was for others to discover a magical ability Torak has and exploit him for it. Torak, not knowing what his ability is, leaves his father's body and runs from the demon bear. Soon after wards, he discovers a lone wolf cub who's family perished in a flood. Torak is able to communicate with the wolf cub due to the fact he was nursed by a wolf mother when he was an infant because his real mother had passed away. From this point, the two orphans become pack brothers and they continue on their journey together.

While traveling through the forest, Torak and Wolf run into those from the Raven Clan, including a girl named Renn (who is also the niece of the clan leader Fin Kedinn). The Raven Clan starts off hostile towards Torak and attempt to hunt him down when they realize he is the one spoken of in their prophecy as the "listener" who can defeat the demon bear. Renn, though suspicious and unkind to Torak and Wolf, helps the two of the escape and continues on their journey with them to defeat the demon bear. Without saying what happens in between, Torak returns to live with the Raven Clan at the end of the book and the whereabouts of the demon bear are explained to him by Fin Kedinn. The demon bear was created by a group of evil clan mages called the Soul Eaters. The Soul Eaters seek to rule the forest and unleash demons as a means to achieve their goal. In total there were seven Soul Eaters, but after a great fire caused by Torak's father, they broke apart. The demon bear was sent by one of the Soul Eaters to kill Torak's father for betraying them, because he himself was one of the seven Soul Eaters.

The rest of the books revolve around Torak, Wolf and Renn and their journey to defeat the Soul Eaters. In book two, Torak's magical ability is discovered. Torak is what they call a Spirit Walker- someone who can place one of the three souls in the body of another creature and move about their body. This power is something all mages desire and spend their entire lives trying to achieve it. When the Soul Eaters discover Torak's power, they begin hunting him. Torak however hates this "gift" he's been given and doesn't want anything to do with the responsibility that has been laid out for him. The poor kid doesn't seem to be able to catch a break with each book, and the world and its odds seems to be against him all the time. In book three, two of the Soul Eaters force the mark of a Soul Eater on his chest, and though he received it against his will, Torak is outcasted by all clans and hunted down.

Torak's only light at the end of the tunnel seems to be Renn and Wolf. The two of them are incredible loyal to Torak and they'd do anything to protect him. Renn cares about Torak dearly and tries to help him carry his burden (though Torak often runs off in order to prevent her from getting involved, much to her annoyance). With each book, Torak often needs his butt to be saved by either one of them. It's very cute when Torak and Wolf talk to each other in wolf talk. Some of the diction is kind of funny when the book is being read from Wolf's perspective. For example, instead of "fire," in wolf talk it's "the Bright Beast that Bites Hot," and a river is "Fast Wet" and humans are "taillesses." Their relationship is very loving and goes beyond a boy's relationship with his pet dog.

This entire series made me feel like humanity has become very out of touch with nature and animals. Each clan is incredibly adaptive to living off the lands they were given. They highly respect their land along with its animals, especially their clan creature. I loved reading about the different clans as the series progressed. Each books is set in a different part of Torak's world and from that we get to see the different clans that live in that area and how they live differently. For example, Torak and Renn are part of the Open Forest being from the Wolf and Raven Clan. In the next book, we go out to Sea to the islands where we meet the Seal Clan. I particularly liked reading about the clans from the Far North (think snow and igloos) and the clans from the Deep Forest. Each book comes with a map of that had the lay of the land the story is set in, as well as where the clans are located. The cool thing is, the maps are updated with each new book, and we can see how all the clans migrate.

This next part is going to sound really cheesy, but I these novels really brought a sense of peace to me. It made me want to get closer to the natural world and go running with the wolves. I actually loved this book so much that I plan one getting a cave painting tattoo of Torak and Wolf on my back. Yes the books are on the short side and are technically children's books, but trust me, it's not just for children. A lot of the context is very chilling and haunting and I can't image how they're going to adapt it into a movie without making it super scary. The ending kind of left me with a dry feeling, but I'll take it. These books made me want to learn more about these incredible survivors of the Stone Age and makes me wonder if most of humanity has become out of touch. Well the next step for me is to go out and get a Husky and name it Wolf.

Final Score- 10/10

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