BookBrowse Reviews Spirit Walker by Michelle Paver

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Spirit Walker

Chronicles of Ancient Darkness #2

by Michelle Paver

Spirit Walker by Michelle Paver X
Spirit Walker by Michelle Paver
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2006, 368 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2007, 384 pages

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Torak is a boy apart. A boy who can talk to wolves. A boy who must vanquish the Soul-Eaters . . . or die trying. Ages 10+

From the book jacket: Torak is a boy apart. A boy who can talk to wolves. A boy who must vanquish the Soul-Eaters . . . or die trying. As the Moon of No Dark waxes large, the clans fall prey to a horrifying sickness. Fear stalks the Forest. The very breath of spring seems poisoned. No one knows the cause -- and only Torak can find the cure.

His quest takes him across the sea to the mysterious islands of the Seal Clan. Here Torak battles an unseen menace and uncovers a betrayal that will change his life -- forever.

Spirit Walker is a spellbinding story of fellowship, treachery, and self-sacrifice that takes the reader further on the journey that began in Wolf Brother.

Comment:
Since the age of ten, Michelle Paver dreamed about running with wild wolves in the prehistoric forest; but living in London her options were limited! She grew up and became a lawyer, but eventually realized that wasn't where her heart was and she started to write books for adults (including The Shadow Catcher and Fever Hill), then one day she came across her long discarded story notes about a boy and a wolf and all her childhood obsessions came flooding back.

Spirit Walker is the second in a planned six part series set 6,000 years ago in the forests of Northern Europe. It's a fantastic adventure set in a meticulously researched world of hunter-gatherers, which, as Paver comments, is a misleading term that conjures up a picture of someone casually spotting a clump of berries and saying, 'Oh, good, I think I'll gather some of those'. In reality, hunter-gatherers were unbelievably skilled (a point also made by Jared Diamond in his classic Guns, Germs and Steel, in which, if I recollect correctly, he makes a compelling case that as a result of natural selection and their environment, the indigenous people of Papua New Guinea are, on average, more intelligent than so called 'first world*' inhabitants).

We read Wolf Brother as a family and enjoyed it very much, and our 10-year-old daughter read Spirit Walker and announced that it was "fantastico". I highly recommend this classic adventure/quest, coming of age series for ages 9 through to the mid-teens.

At the time of writing, The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series is available for sale in 37 countries. Soul Eater, the third book in the series, was released in the UK in September 2006 and has just been released in the USA. The fourth book, Outcast, will be out in the UK in September 2007 and, it is fairly safe to assume, will be published in the USA in early 2008.

*We're all familiar with the over-used and frankly outdated term "third world" but if there's a third world, where's the second world?
Apparently the terms were coined by French demographer Alfred Sauvy in 1952, a time when the world was split into two large geopolitical blocks. Developed capitalist countries aligned with the USA way of thinking including Western Europe, Japan and Australia were dubbed the "First World"; the communist Eastern-block countries were designated "Second World" and the remaining three-quarters of the world not aligned with either side, irrespective of each country's wealth, were grouped together and labeled "Third World"; today the term has become synonymous with developing countries. In the 1970s the term "Fourth World" was coined by Shuswap Chief George Manuel (the Shuswap are one of the indiginous peoples of British Columbia) to describe indigenous people living with or across national state boundaries.

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in March 2006, and has been updated for the February 2007 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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