Title / Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series
Author / Michelle Paver
Publication Date / 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009
Series or standalone / 6 book series
Page no. / 242, 320, 276, 271, 224 and 245
Genre / Historical Fantasy
Overall Rating / ★★★★
The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness is a 6 book historical fantasy series by British author, Michelle Paver. The series consists of Wolf Brother, Spirit Walker, Soul Eater, Outcast, Oath Breaker and Ghost Hunter. It is aimed towards younger readers but can be enjoyed by a range of ages and readers. We follow a twelve year old boy, called Torak, who has spent most of his life living alone with his father. His life is shattered when his father is killed by a bear, and he must go on a journey to fulfil his father’s dying wish. As always, I will not be going into any plot details to avoid possible spoilers.
This series is set during the Mesolithic period, or the Middle Stone Age, so roughly 6,000 years ago on the European continent. The world is divided into clans and each clan is represented by an animal. For example you have the Wolf Clan, Raven Clan, Salmon Clan etc. Each member of their clan is marked by distinctive tattoos and they hold their clan animal in high regard. The Raven Clan have three fine blue lines across each cheek, while the Wolf Clan have two dotted blue lines across each cheekbone. This is one of my favourite things about this series. I don’t know a lot about this time period, but it feels realistic to the reader. It is very clear that Paver put in a lot of research to write these books and the world is incredibly vivid as a result. Throughout the six books you get to explore more of the world and there is also a fantastic map provided. If you enjoy good world building, then you need to check this series out. I haven’t read many fantasy books, if any, with settings like this one.
These books contain a fantastic cast of characters. Torak is a young boy at the start of this series (12 years old) and we get to see him grow as a person in each book. The same can be said for his companions, Renn, a young Raven clan girl, and Wolf, a wolf Torak found as a cub. From very early on you become invested in their story and you come to really care from them throughout the six books. Paver has done a fantastic job at creating well written characters with distinct personalities and interesting back stories. The development of the relationships is also very well done. In particular, Torak’s relationships with Wolf and Renn. These are at the forefront of these books and Paver does a fantastic job with their growth. There are just a lot of fantastic characters in this series. Both the main protagonists and secondary characters are so well written.
Once you start reading, you won’t want to book these books down. Each book is as compelling as the last and Paver does a great job of weaving all of the plot threads together through the 6 books. There is plenty of action and twists woven into the story too. The pacing is good throughout and the writing is fantastic. We mainly follow the perspective of Torak but Wolf also has a few chapters from his perspective sprinkled into the books. These switches are well done and do not disrupt the flow of the story. It also adds an interesting viewpoint, as it shows us the events of the book through the eyes of a wolf. I found it so easy to settle into the flow of the story. Each book is as good as the last and the concluding chapter was great, although it was sad to say goodbye to this series. I first read these books when I was younger and they have remained one of my favourites.
Overall this is a fantastic series set in a unique world with well written characters and compelling plot. I have reread this series a few times and have enjoyed it every time. I definitely recommend checking these books out, if you haven’t already, especially if you are interested in this time period or love fantasy with animal companions. An audiobook version is also available, which is narrated by Ian McKellen. The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series is well worth a read and, in my opinion, is quite an underrated series.
On March 18th, 2019, Paver announced on her YouTube channel that she is working on three sequels set after the events of Ghost Hunter. The first, The Viper’s Daughter, is set to be published in spring 2020 by Head of Zeus. Artwork for the cover and interior illustrations will be by the original series artists, John Fordham and Geoff Taylor.
Have you read this series? I’d love to know what you thought. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.