Reading guide for 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
    Feb 2007, 384 pages

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Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

About the Book

As he lies dying, ravaged by a demon bear, Torak’s father's last words to him are: "Find—the Mountain— of the World Spirit. . . . It’s the only hope. . . . Find the Mountain, or die trying"
 (pp. 9–10). Thus begins Wolf Brother, the first volume in the series, the story of a twelve-year-old Stone Age boy’s quest to find a way to stop the bear from destroying the Forest and its people and to find out why his father has kept him out of contact with others.

Torak’s quest leads him to find Wolf, his wolf-cub companion; Renn, a young Raven Clan girl; and Fin-Kedinn, the trusted Raven Clan leader. In Spirit Walker, a terrible sickness plagues the people of the Forest, and Torak feels it is his destiny to find the cure, despite Fin-Kedinn’s warning that the sickness might be a trick to capture Torak and gain his powers that he himself is unaware of. Alone in the Deep Forest and at the Sea, Torak meets Tenris, who seems to be a kind Mage but who may well not be what he seems.

Torak is a reluctant hero—thrust into the role by powers he never asked for, powers he does not understand. Part of his quest is to explore those powers and learn to use them for good. This is one piece of realizing who he is and where he fits in, whom he can trust, what his parents were like, and what their heritage means to him.

Discussion Questions

  1. The clan society of Wolf Brother and Spirit Walker is primitive, yet much of what they do and believe can be found in modern-day cultures. Discuss the similarities and differences between cultures you are familiar with. Issues to take into consideration are: societal structure, religion, the treatment of children and the elderly, human relationships, and humanity’s relationship to the natural world.
  2. Clan leaders such as Fin-Kedinn command respect and obedience from the clan members. Are there people in our contemporary society who get this kind of respect? If so, give an example and explain.
  3. "‘Oslak,’ he said. ‘The clan chose me for Leader to keep it safe. You know that. . . . And I will. I will keep you safe’" (p. 16). Fin-Kedinn is filled with guilt after he fails to protect Oslak from the ravages of the sickness. Is Fin-Kedinn’s promise an empty one? He hopes that he can save Torak, but does he truly believe he can? Explain.
  4. Although he has been living with the Raven Clan for six months, Torak knows he will always be an outsider (p. 22). Teenagers often feel like outsiders—alienated by others and their surroundings. Does this quality make it easier to identify with Torak? Are there other similar traits between Torak and today’s youth?
  5. On pages 54–55 Torak climbs a tree to escape a boar. While skilled in protecting himself in the Forest, Torak is still inexperienced, and now he is in a panic because he has made a poor choice. This is neither the first nor the last time that Torak acts in a rash manner. Find other examples from Wolf Brother and Spirit Walker where Torak should have chosen a different path.
  6. On page 45 Torak begins to "feel watched."  Who or what is the creature pursuing Torak? Might Torak’s Follower also be a metaphor for other fears? How can fear be helpful as we take risks to achieve our goals? Has being afraid ever protected you? Has it ever prevented you from doing something?
  7. Talk about the nature of the friendship between Torak and Wolf. On page 166 Wolf risks his life to save Torak. Do you have a friend for whom you would risk your life or vice versa? How does Renn fit into this relationship?
  8. The author, Michelle Paver, did a great amount of research to discover all the details about the Stone Age. Imagine an archeological dig she might have gone on. What artifacts might she have found to reveal elements of religion, family, tribe, community, shelter, weapons, and customs? What clues does she give to tell us that the story is set in northern Europe?
  9. Fantasy novels are often centered on a quest, especially a quest in search of good versus evil. This is certainly true of both Wolf Brother and Spirit Walker. Torak is on several quests simultaneously. What are they? How successful is he? What parts of his quests remain unresolved?
  10. Betrayal is an ongoing theme in Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. On page 236 Torak realizes that he has been betrayed. Torak is devastated. How does he seek his revenge? Have you ever been betrayed by someone you trusted and held in esteem? How did you react?
  11. In Wolf Brother Torak’s father warns him to stay away from men (pp. 9–10) but dies before he can explain why. In Spirit Walker Fin-Kedinn warns Torak that the Soul-Eaters know that someone in the forest has power (p. 31). While reading Wolf Brother and Spirit Walker, you have discovered the nature of Torak’s powers as he himself does. What are those powers? Can you predict other powers he might discover in himself in the next book?

Book Club Report

Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of HarperTrophy. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

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