Tag Archives: The Loop

Chronicles of Ancient Darkness – Michelle Paver

Teen fiction is a fickle one. As a teen your too old for real children books, such as Animal Ark or Tracie Beaker, yet some adult books are just out of reach of full comprehension. So how to make a book that is in this middle market? Harry Potter, Twilight, His Dark Materials are all teen/children books and yet all ages can enjoy. Enid Blyton is a children’s author yet her books, if enjoyed as a child can easily be enjoyed as an adult. Roald Dahl wrote for children and adults (though his adult fiction is very adult!) Yet every child is different. I remember in year 9 (so 14/15 age) I had to get my mother’s permission to lend “Horse Whisperer” out of the school library due to the scenes of a sexual nature. So what’s my point I may hear you ask? Well it is this. Just because something is labelled as ‘teen’ or ‘children’ fiction, doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed by a wide range of ages.

I say all of the above as this next series is classed as children’s fiction. I was in my young pre-teens when I first found this book, but I carried on the series until it’s end well into my late teens. The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness written by Michelle Paver are a series of 6 books all follow a young boy of about 12, Torak and his Wolf. We follow these two as they make friends with Renn and try and vanquish the Soul Eaters and the darkness they have inflicted onto the world. It is set before civilisation as we know it, where man followed the rules of forest and sea.

Plot
We start this adventure in Wolf Brother when Torak and his father are at their camp. All of a sudden a mighty roar emits from the forest and a huge bear appears, knocking Torack out of the way and heading for his father. The bear rips into his chest and then leaves the clearing. Fa tells Torak to run as the bear is sure to return and he needs Torak to find and kill the bear by going to the spirit mountain and that his guide will find him. Torak only flees as he swears on his three souls to do so. He finds a young cub sat by his drowned pack at a river. Nauseous from fear and infection from hitting his arm against a tree, he tries to survive on his own for the first time.
He finds out he can talk to the cub and understand the cub via wolf talk. No idea why he strikes up a friendship with the young cub and

becomes his pack brother.

On his adventure he runs into the Raven Clan where he meets a young girl, Renn whom joins in his journey.

Opinion

I struggle to describe how good this series is. For me to have read them all, this first one has to draw you in. It’s slightly like Harry Potter in the fact that Paver has a story arc in each book but an overall story arc across all the books. So little things become important later on and questions and confusion is settled in later books. These little questions keep you interested. The union of Torak and Wolf is fantastic. They remind me of Eragon and Saphira in Paolini’s series although as smart as Wolf is, he can’t express himself as well as Saphira. If Evans had this kind of Wolf bond in “The Loop” I would have given it a higher score.

The chemistry between Torak and Renn is great and their feelings towards one another develops at a good rate. They hate each other when they first meet. Torak can be a little selfish and self involved, yet this is understandable as he has never been in a clan, just him and Fa. He also has to carry a large burden and responsibility which no 12 year old should do.

I grew up with these characters and for me, it is on the same par as Harry Potter. I love them as much and have the same childish glee when I read them as when I first read them.

On its own Wolf Brother is a great start. For me none of these is better or worse then any of the others so this one is a 9/10. Well worth the read and ideal as a bed time story for the little ones that you’d enjoy too!

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Filed under Book Review, Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, Michelle Paver, Young Adult

The Loop – Nicholas Evans

So. Down to the business of actually reviewing a book. As my previous post suggests, the Rizzoli and Isles series will feature heavily in this blog. However, this book is not a Rizzoli and Isles one. This is a Nicholas Evans masterpiece. Anyone who has ever seen or read “The Horse Whisperer” will know how emphatic and brilliant a writer Evans is. “The Loop” is his second novel and it didn’t disappoint. In fact it’s probably my favourite book. I read it at least once a year and basically know it off by heart. So seems quite a good choice for my 1st book review!

The Plot

It starts in Hope, Montana and we see a young male alpha wolf go into wolf hater territory. (Already I’m screaming at the wolf to turn back!) We see him become inquisitive about a strange noisy creature in a bassinet. A dog comes out to protect his family and is killed by the wolf who then scarpers. Unfortunately for the wolf, he just killed a Calder dog and this means he ticked off the biggest and richest rancher in Hope. It results in Helen, a wolf biologist, who is tormented by bad relationships, currently in one with a man named Joel whose in Africa, to come to Hope to track and tag the wolves. So we already have a young, broken late 20-year-old living alone among wolves in the Montana outback trying to save a very hated creature.

Enter the next main character. Luke Calder. The youngest and now only son of the biggest, richest rancher Calder mentioned before. He has a stutter, blames himself for his grandfathers and brothers deaths and is a lover of all animals, especially wolves! Oh and he’s 18.

Helen finds she is not well liked in Hope and to make matters worse, her traps are getting sprung. So, she stalks her sabotager and finds it’s, surprise surprise, LUKE! They end up laughing about it and he learns she is just trying to save the wolves, not making it easier to kill them, and ends up helping her. Safe to say, he falls in love with her, the only girl to not care about his stutter bar his mother.

Helen receives a letter from Joel in Africa and he breaks up via letter (sleezeball) telling her he has found his true love and is to marry. Helen goes into a complete meltdown. Luke finds Helen and looks after her. She discovers she has feelings for him and realises for the 1st time what real love is. But wait! He’s 18. She’s 29! What should she do? Of course she teaches the virginal Luke about love and sex and they live happily ever after.

Well, not quite. There is the problem of the wolves still. One is claimed to have killed cattle and the ranchers take it upon themselves to rid their land of the wolves. A group of them kill a wolf and display it at a Wildlife and Fish agency gathering, stirring the blood of rancher and government official alike. The ranchers go to kill the rest of the wolves and newborn cubs with shotguns. Of course Helen and Luke go to save the cubs and this leads to a heart thumping, palm sweating, last gasp finale….

I won’t tell you the ending. That would ruin the book.

Opinion

As I said before. This is probably my favourite book and as such I am bias. But so is everyone. So. My verdict is this is an 8/10 book. Not 10/10 because I am a really harsh critic and there are areas of the book that I do find wanting. The writing in the perspective of the wolves is a little forced and long-winded for myself (the ‘Wolf Brother’ series written by Michelle Paver is far better in this aspect) and I find the old tracker sections rather boring. BUT. Helen and Luke’s romance drives this book forward. The main characters are fabulously well written and their back stories are believable with no forced empathy needed. Even the ‘bad’ guy is likeable and, more importantly, understandable in his actions. The character interactions are well crafted and in my mind’s eye I can see the town and surrounding ranches with perfect detail thanks to Evans’ carefully scripted description.

All in all a well written novel that animal lovers, soft romantics and general fiction fans will like, if not love!

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Filed under Book Review, Nicholas Evans, Romance