This series was pegged as ‘the next Harry Potter’ at one point and although it never hit that level of fame and success I hold it in similar regard in my heart.
Set in Europe in the Stone Age, this series follows a boy called Torak and his friends Renn and Wolf (who is an actual wolf and an occassional narrator of the story) as he tries to find and defeat a group of evil clan mages known as the Soul Eaters.
This is my kind of historical fiction. It has lots of animals (including wolves, my very favourite of all), bows and arrows, flint knives, snow, forests, magic, mystery, excitement, friendship, love, fear, fire… the list is endless. The fact that it is set in almost-familiar surroundings makes it somehow more magical – I know the types of trees and many of the animals but everything is slightly different because of the timing making it feel almost ethereal at times.
The strong theme of spirits and magic is very clever because it doesn’t feel like Harry Potter magic at any time, it feels natural and ‘real’ because it is so firmly rooted in the characters lives and traditions – as we know it was back there. Little things like thanking a creature when you kill it and respecting it by using everything from it and leaving a small portion of meat out as an offering to their clan animal also. They believed they had to do these things or else face retribution and so it is so – magic? Who knows but that is how people lived for centuries, and still do in some respects. It is a very clever balance between fantasy and reality and it totally captured my imagination.
Essentially a coming-of-age series, The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness captured my imagination and shaped my own writing for months – I loved the depth of the world. Michelle Paver did limitless research and it showed in her work and inspired me to put more effort into my own writing – I had never been much of a researcher before, more of a wing-it-and-hope girl, but after this series I changed my habits for the better.
The covers are also beautiful. I have nearly the entire series in hardback and all of them have this set of cover style – they are richly coloured, distinctively coloured and subtly textured. They are deliciously strokable – one of my favourite sets of covers ever. Even if I hadn’t been a fan of the writing I would probably have bought them just to look (and feel) pretty in my book collection!
Tomorrow on CFHW…