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This is a series of books by Britain-dwelling writer Michelle Paver. It is set in Europe six thousand years ago and widely concerns the hunter-gatherer clans that live in the Forest, but specifically concerns Torak of Wolf Clan, as well as his wolf 'pack-brother' Wolf and his friend Renn of Raven Clan. The books follow the three companions as they stop a group of evil Mages (shamans) gone rogue, called Soul Eaters. The series takes place over approximately four years.

There are six books, with the final one released in August 2009:

  • Wolf Brother
    • This is set almost entirely in the Forest, and largely serves as an introduction to the characters, the world, and the clan system. It begins with Torak's father being killed by an enormous bear-demon. Torak, surviving without his father for the first time, finds and pretty much adopts an orphaned wolf cub, who he appropriately names Wolf. The rest of the book is about Torak's quest (with Wolf and Renn) to hunt down and slay the bear. Soul Eater No.1, Torak's father the Wolf Mage, is killed. But we don't find out that he was a Soul Eater until... Soul Eater.
  • Spirit Walker
    • This one expands the world a little: in it, Torak heads out to find a cure for a plague. His journey takes him to the islands west of the Forest and introduces us to the Seal Clan, where he meets a Seal Clan boy called Bale. Soul Eater No.2, Tenris the Seal Mage, is killed.
  • Soul Eater
    • The world is expanded again. This time, Torak and Renn travel to the tundra north of the Forest to rescue Wolf, who is kidnapped by the Soul Eaters. We are introduced to the Ice Clans, particularly the White Fox Clan. Soul Eater No.3, Nef the Bat Mage, is killed.
  • Outcast
    • Unlike its predecessors, this one takes place entirely within the Forest and particularly around a lake called Lake Axehead. Torak is thrown out of the Raven Clan for... some reason. We meet more clans. The most prominent is the Boar Clan. Think of the boars from Princess Mononoke, make them human, and you pretty much have the Boar Clan. Soul Eater No.4, Seshru the Viper Mage - and Renn's mother - is killed.
  • Oath Breaker
    • Takes place mostly within the Deep Forest, amongst the mysterious Deep Forest clans such as Auroch, Forest Horse, and Torak's mother's clan, the Red Deer. Bale is killed by Soul Eater No.5, Thiazzi the Oak Mage. Torak, Wolf, Renn and Raven Clan chief Fin-Kedinn set off to get revenge, heading deep into the dark heart of the Forest and running afoul of the clans that live there. Except the Red Deer, who are strictly pacifistic. Soul Eater No.5, Thiazzi the Oak Mage, is killed.
  • Ghost Hunter
    • Mainly takes place in the High Mountains, with clans such as Mountain Hare, Rowan, Swan, and the mysterious Hidden People. It follows Torak's journey to confront the final Soul Eater, Eostra, after the latter spreads a mysterious disease and fear throughout the lands. [[spoiler:Soul Eater No.6, Eostra the Eagle Owl Mage, is killed.....and Torak. [1]

Even if Stone Age-set adventures aren't your cup of tea, these are worth reading for the worldbuilding. Ms Paver has done a lot of research into the world she writes about.

Most of the the character tropes are on the character page.

Tropes used in The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness include:
  • Action Girl: Renn.
  • And the Adventure Continues... - Ghost Hunter ends with Torak and Renn leaving the Clans to explore the unexplored parts of the Forest.
  • Anyone Can Die
  • The Archer: Renn, to the point that her bow and arrows are no longer a weapon but a friend and hunting companion.
  • Back from the Dead - Happens to a few characters in Ghost Hunter, including Torak.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension - Oh god, Torak and Renn.
  • Beta Couple - Wolf and Darkfur
  • Betty and Veronica - Gender flipped: Renn (Archie), Torak (Veronica), Bale (Betty)
  • Berserk Button - Don't ever, ever, ever lie or keep things from Torak. Ever. And don't even think about hurting someone he loves.
    • And DO NOT EVER think of damaging, breaking, maiming, buffeting or in any way hurting Renn's bow and quiver of arrows.
  • Black and Gray Morality
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead - Bale is the blonde, Torak is the brun-"ette", and Renn is the redhead. None of them entirely fit the stereotypes-- in the Forest, Bale's a bit of a klutz since he doesn't know how to manage, but at the Sea he goes so far as to be an Insufferable Genius. Torak is clever enough (more than clever enough when it comes to tracking, where he is a Scarily Competent Tracker,) but he can be incredibly stupid and impulsive. Renn is definitely a Fiery Redhead, but she's also the calm, practical and rational one.
  • Big Badass Wolf - Well, naturally...
  • Bittersweet Ending
  • Cannot Spit It Out - Torak, literally, in Ghost Hunter, but it ends well.
  • Character Development
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Walker, a.k.a. the seventh Soul Eater, who was said to have died in the Great Fire.
  • Coming of Age Story - Pretty much the point of Outcast
  • Creepy Twins - The Otter Mage(s)
  • Dark Is Not Evil - I'm sorry. Aside from that, the Raven Clan are pretty nice people on the whole.
  • Death by Childbirth - Torak seems to believe that his mother died this way, until Spirit Walker. Renn claims that her mother died during her birth, but she is lying.
  • Death Equals Redemption - Nef.
  • Death of the Hypotenuse
  • Determinator: Darkfur in Ghost Hunter. Oh boy.
  • Development Hell - A movie with Ridley Scott as the producer has been talked about since 2004...
  • Doom Magnet - Torak! And Dyrati accuses Renn of this. Renn denies it, but later wonders if it's true. And for a supporting character, Aki never seems to catch a break.
  • Dream Weaver - Seshru. In Outcast, she sends Torak a dream to meet her at a spring. At the time, he believes it was Renn who was in the dream, hinting the resemblance between Renn and Seshru.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending
  • Everyone Can See It - In Outcast Seshru uses this to bait Renn into telling Torak that Seshru is her mother. In the beginning of Ghost Hunter, Fin-Kedinn does everything he can to keep Torak and Renn away from each other, because he know if they became mates that they would leave the Raven Clan. It ends up happening, but he's alright with it. Later in the book, Dark asks Torak if he and Renn are mates, without even meeting her.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears - In Wolf Brother and Soul Eater.
  • Face Heel Turn - Hord. Also, Dyrati, kind of, although Renn could be right, maybe she's just a bitch.
  • Fatal Attractor - If Bale hadn't fallen for Renn, then he and Torak wouldn't have argued, Torak wouldn't have stormed away from Bale, and Bale wouldn't have been murdered by Thiazzi.
  • Flat World - Though the series takes place in our world, it is set 6,000 years ago. Naturally, their beliefs are different, and it is suggested that they believe the Earthy is flat. In Soul Eater, when Torak and Renn travel to the Far North, Renn is anxious that they might accidentally miss the end of the world.

It's the end of the world. What if we fall off?

  • Fridge Brilliance - After a huge forest fire in the fifth book, Renn is wondering around the burnt Forest aimlessly. She starts running when she sees green in the distance, finally seeing trees. When she gets there she sinks to her knees and thinks about how the Forest is eternal and nothing can conquer it. Looking at the world's current environmental situation, it was brilliant.
  • Foe Yay - Lots and lots in Outcast. All involving Seshru.
  • Foil - All over the place
    • Torak is the foil for Renn.
    • Renn is the foil for Torak, Bale, Wolf, Saeunn, Fin-Kedinn and Hord
    • Wolf is the foil for Torak and Renn.
    • Fin-Kedinn is the foil for Torak, Renn and Saeunn.
    • Bale is the foil for Torak and Renn.
    • Saeunn is the foil for Renn and Fin-Kedinn.
    • Hord is the foil for Torak, Renn and Dyrati.
    • Dyrati is the foil for Renn.
  • Foreshadowing - Some very subtle ones. Most notably in Wolf Brother, Renn telling Hord that he can't treat Torak like an outcast. In Soul Eater, Seshru's voice reminds Wolf of Renn's voice. In Outcast, the Otter Mage tells Bale that he needs to use his time wisely.
  • Hate Plague - Lots of stuff, actually.
  • Heel Face Turn - Nef at the end of Soul Eater, and Aki at the end of Outcast.
  • Heroes Want Redheads - The only person other than Renn that Torak ever feels attracted to is Renn's mother. Clearly Torak is Rennsexual.
  • Heroic BSOD - Renn gets this pretty bad in Ghost Hunter after Torak dies. It ends quickly, however, when he comes back to life.
  • Insufferable Genius - Bale, at least when he's in his homeland by the Sea; in the Forest he tries to be one in the beginning, but Renn quickly puts an end to that.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold - Torak, when he's not being just a jerk
  • Laughing Mad - Torak, suffering from soul-sickness.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father - Double gender flipped, and averted becauseRenn already knew that Seshru was her mother. Seshru and Torak didn't find out until Outcast and, oh boy, there was hell to pay.
  • Non-Human Sidekick - Wolf, Rip, and Rek
  • No Periods, Period - Averted. When Renn began menstruating inOutcast a red bar was tattooed by the clan tattoo on her face.
  • Now or Never Kiss - Torak and Renn in Ghost Hunter.
  • Official Couple - Torak and Renn. Oh, the rage on the fan boards, when Bale told Torak that he was going to ask Renn to be his mate in Oath Breaker. It turned to delight when he died horribly. Poor guy.
  • Owl Be Damned - Only applies to eagle owls.
  • Papa Wolf - Wolf, of course. When he becomes a papa.
  • Power Trio - Torak, Renn and Wolf. They get things done.
  • Prophet Eyes - The Otter Mage.
  • The Reveal - At least one big one per book.
  • The Rival - Bale. Until he dies. Though, really, Torak forgave him super-fast.
  • Running Gag - No one can stomach the mash that the Otter Clan makes in Outcast. Except Bale.
  • Slap Slap Kiss - Torak and Renn. Twice.
  • Ship Sinking - Renn and Bale. Not too many fans were upset.
  • Tell Me About My Father - Torak to Fin-Kedinn. In Oath Breaker he gender-flips it while talking to Durrain.
  • Two Guys and a Girl - Torak, Bale, Renn in Spirit Walker, Outcast and then a little in Oath Breaker. It doesn't end well...
  • The Un-Reveal - Despite a fair bit of build-up, we never find out what Torak's father was called.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not for Kids? - Despite it mostly marketed as childrens literature, there is a great deal of heavily described violence and gruesome images, as well as one or two important deaths in each book (also, very gruesome and well-described). There is also a some sensuality, especially in the final three books. And let's not forget Thiazzi's physical and psychological torture of Renn in Oath Breaker
  • What Happened to the Mouse? - Aki, Sialot and Poi get the 'shadow sickness' in Ghost Hunter, as part of Eostra's spell, and we never find out if they get better. Sialot and Poi are mentioned a few times through out the books, but the reader never meets them. Aki, however, is mentioned several times, but also appears a lot through out the books, and he is an important character in Outcast.
  • World of Ham - When the four remaining Soul Eaters were gathered together is the third book... Soul Eater, they were this trope. Except Nef.
  1. Although he does get better.