Before I start writing about the book, I want to explain why I am writing this short series of blogs. Like many people I suspect, I initially thought of the lockdown as an opportunity. Since I don’t have to spend 4 hours a day commuting, I thought, I will have all the time in the world for reading and thesis writing! How wrong I was. The extra time online teaching, meetings and professional development would take up with slow internet used by 3 people, alongside the additional time preparing, cooking and clearing up 3 meals a day… anyway, I don’t seem to have the mental space for reading new adult fiction at the moment.
I can’t now remember what led me to pick up this novel. It was first published in 2004; possibly the cover attracted me. Anyway, I was hooked, as I still am. I re-read it recently, because of the announcement of a seventh book in the series, published after a gap of 10 years. I could remember elements of the stories, but I wanted to reimerse myself in the world of Torak, and Wolf, and Renn before joining them again.
Within the first page, I was back in the ancient forest, in Stone-Age Scandinavia. These books are incredible. Michelle Paver has such respect for her characters; their technological and problem-solving skills, their knowledge of their environment and their ability to make efficient use of their resources (in particular, the importance of honouring a hunted animal by making full use of it- meat, internal organs, skin, bones- everything has a use) and in particular, the voice of Wolf, the cub who bonds with Torak of the Wolf Clan, adopting him as a pack brother.
Paver did an impressive amount of research on these books, travelling through Scandinavia up to the Arctic Circle, observing wildlife and meeting members of nomadic Sami communities. However, this knowledge is worn lightly, and serves to deepen the atmosphere of the books, including the supernatural elements, which come from the animist religious beliefs of Torak’s world.
I’m steadily reading my way through the series; I’m now on the 3rd book. I’m still finding it hard to leave Torak’s world, especially when I’m out walking. The grass, trees and birds of Brighton have much more significance for me at the moment.