From School Library Journal
Grade 5-9 - Set 6000 years ago, this fast-paced adventure delves into a world of spirits and mysticism not often seen in children's literature. Torak, 12, witnesses his father's brutal attack by a giant, demon-possessed bear and promises to find his way to the Mountain of the World Spirit. Before dying, his father instructs him to avoid other men and tells him that his guide will find him. Sure enough, Torak is soon adopted by a wolf cub, also recently orphaned, with whom he is able to communicate. The bear continues to terrorize the forest, but Torak is able to avoid it with Wolf's help. They are captured by the Wolf clan, who believes that Torak is the Listener, and will rid the forest of the bear when he fulfills a prophecy by delivering three lost artifacts to the mountain. He must solve an obscure riddle to find the artifacts and traverse dangerous lands, all the while evading the evil bear. Paver's depth of research into the spiritual world of primitive peoples makes this impressive British import, slated to be the first in a six-book series, intriguing and believable. - Karen T. Bilton, Somerset County Library, Bridgewater, NJ
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Gr. 6-9. A giant bear possessed by a demon fatally wounds Torak's father, who makes his son swear that he will find the Mountain of the World Spirit, many "daywalks" from where they have been hunting in the forest. The spirit, his father says, offers the only hope to defeat the bear, which will become invincible if not stopped. So begins Torak's desperate quest, undertaken in the company of an orphaned wolf cub, Torak's guide. After members of the Raven Clan capture the boy and wolf, Torak learns that he is the Listener, prophesied to crush the Shadow, the overriding evil that is trying to take over the land. There's one minor discrepancy that kids are likely to spot (if there's a second printing, it will be corrected), but that won't spoil the excitement in the first book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series. This is fantasy adventure on a grand scale, with a wealth of wilderness lore and convincing characterizations. Sally EstesCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved