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Oath Breaker (2008)

by Michelle Paver

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Chronicles of Ancient Darkness (book 5)

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456939,586 (4.22)7
When he was outcast, Torak was the hunted one. The following spring, he becomes the hunter when he swears to avenge the killing of one of his closest friends. To fulfil his oath he must brave the hidden valleys of the Deep Forest, where the clans have reverted to the savagery of an earlier time. Here, Torak finally learns why he is the Sprit Walker and discovers the true cost of revenge.… (more)
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» See also 7 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
  johnrid11 | Feb 14, 2016 |
In my review of Outcast (or was it Soul Eater? They're all kind of mushing together in my head now), I said that I hoped the series would turn into more of a coming-of-age story. In Oath Breaker, it has---with a vengeance. Everyone is coming of age in this book---Torak, Renn, Wolf.

The plot in this one is a little less engaging (and a little more confusing) for me. Paver's descriptions of the forest are less vivid, and I didn't feel as much of a connection to the setting as I had in earlier books.

The characters' motives are a little flimsy, too. There was this whole vengeance-oath thing that felt pretty red-herringy, and I couldn't get a good feel for why anyone was doing anything they were doing. Some parts reminded me of the episode of The Simpsons in which the teachers (represented by Mrs. Krabappel) are trying to get more funding for the school and Principal Skinner is saying there's no money for it. When both spoke at a very well attended PTA meeting, the audience would get 100% behind Skinner when he was at the podium and then swing 100% to the other side when Krabappel stepped up to the microphone. The Aurochs and the Forest Horses seemed a lot like that in this book. "Let's fight each other!" "Let's fight the Open Forest!" "Let's fight the outsiders!" "Let's just go home!" I basically didn't connect with any of the characters really well.

There's also something vaguely sexual about spirit walking in this book, which I hadn't noticed in the previous books. Maybe it was played up here for the coming-of-age aspect, or maybe I'm just noticing it now and it was there all along. Or maybe it's all in my dirty mind and isn't in the books at all. Whatever it was, I didn't like it so much.

But I liked the ravens in this one (the bird ravens, not the Raven clan, who don't put in much of an appearance), and the wolf pups were pretty sweet. And Renn's kind of coming into her own, which is nice.

One more book to go, and I'm done with this series. I think I'll encourage my daughter to go for some Beverly Cleary books next and get a little break from vengeance and dismemberment and battles to the death. I've not read all of the Henry Huggins books, and I suppose there could be some of that in the later books---Ribsy does seem like a bit of a loose cannon---, but I would be surprised. ( )
  ImperfectCJ | Sep 27, 2013 |
This story is sad at the beginning, with Torak trying to hunt down the cause of the sadness. ( )
  spud2000 | Feb 16, 2011 |
I like the language Michelle Paver uses: still water, fast water, bright beast and so on. Thought the story fairly predictable, but enjoyable. My daughter (aged eleven, for whom the book was bought) thought it was great. Neither of us have read the other books in the series, but didn't feel at a huge disadvantage in spite of that. ( )
  AJBraithwaite | Jan 4, 2010 |
I was working as a children’s bookseller when Michelle Paver sold her six-book series Chronicles of the Ancient Darkness for a record-breaking advance of just under £2 million, so I vividly remember the hype that ensued! The first in this highly anticipated Stone Age series was immediately a modern classic, with everyone and his grandmother racing out for a signed copy. Wolf Brother began the tale of Torak, a young Wolf Clan boy who becomes violently orphaned and left to fend for himself, when he befriends a wolf cub. Each consecutive book has seen Torak face more trials and tribulations in his journey toward adulthood.

Outcast and Oath Breaker are the fourth and fifth books in the Chronicles of the Ancient Darkness. Following on from the end of the last book, Soul Eater, Torak has been branded with a tattoo by the Soul Eaters, mages corrupted by power and dark magic. Carrying their evil mark, Torak is suspected to be in league with the Soul Eaters and is cast out from the Raven clan, the place he had begun to call home. As he flees, Torak finds himself not only in a fight for his life, but for his very sanity as his link with the Soul Eaters triggers his descent into madness. In these two books, Torak must battle the impending ecological disaster that will shake the very core of his world, and face the death of someone very close to him.

Perhaps the best asset to Paver’s series is her attention to detail. She has spent several years meticulously researching prehistoric life, spending time with Inuit and Sami tribes living in the wilds of Finland and Greenland. But it is this research that gives her story such realism, such depth. Interestingly, I have been enjoying this series far more than Clan of the Cave Bear, where I personally felt that Jean Auel had become too bogged down in the details of prehistoric life. The society that Paver has created is that of the hunter-gatherer, but the people she describes are surprisingly, yet believable advanced, socially and spiritually as well as technologically. I can imagine myself being quite at home in the world she created (aside from the evil Soul Eaters of course!).

Her characters are also completely believable, each with their own story and own journey. By far my favourite character is Wolf, the cub rescued by Torak, whose love and devotion to the boy provide the true heart to this series. Wolf has his own journey, often separate to Torak’s, but their fates are always linked with the bond they share as wolf brothers. My favourite parts of the story are often from his perspective, with Paver using unique vocabulary to describe how Wolf sees the world around him, such as Fast Wet and Bright Beast-that-bites-hot. Wolf’s journey in Outcast and Oath Breaker is especially touching, as he discovers his own desire to be part of a wolf family, along with a shocking revelation about his friend, Tall-Tailless.

This is an excellent series, but I implore you to read it as such. Though Michelle Paver does make a considerable effort for new readers, true enjoyment of these stories comes from following the saga from its beginning. I can only guess what struggles Torak will face in the forthcoming concluding chapter in this epic journey. I do hope Torak finds peace at last!
2 vote aleya79 | Nov 2, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michelle Paverprimary authorall editionscalculated
Orcese, AlessandraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, GeoffIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When he was outcast, Torak was the hunted one. The following spring, he becomes the hunter when he swears to avenge the killing of one of his closest friends. To fulfil his oath he must brave the hidden valleys of the Deep Forest, where the clans have reverted to the savagery of an earlier time. Here, Torak finally learns why he is the Sprit Walker and discovers the true cost of revenge.

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