Oath Breaker by Michelle Paver

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Oath Breaker by Michelle Paver

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Part historical fiction and part magical quest, this is fine, fine fiction for children. Paver hasn't lost the pace in this latest instalment of the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. Don't miss it.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 256 Date: September 2008
Publisher: Orion
ISBN: 1842551744

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In a fit of jealousy over Renn, Torak abandons Bale to keep watch on his own for a whole night. When he returns, chastened and regretful, the next morning, it's not a rapprochement, it's the discovery of Bale's body, thrown from the cliff. Renn, Fin-Kedinn and Torak soon discover the culprit's identity. It's Thiazzi, one of the remaining Soul Eaters. Full of rage, Torak swears revenge and embarks on a journey into the Deep Forest to find and kill the evil mage. It's a journey full of danger, and with a heart as stony as Torak's is becoming, even Wolf and Renn have trouble recognising their pack-brother.

This latest instalment in Michelle Paver's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series keeps up its pace, its pathos, and its wisdom. Fiction for children really doesn't get any better than this. There's no messing around, no tiresome exposition or backstory, but the writing is such that even the youngest readers know exactly where they are. And these are books for children. They're not trying to find some middle ground and a wider market. You won't see them in double jackets on both adult and children's shelves. Paver doesn't need five hundred pages to get her story across. Here we have children facing danger and behaving heroically and always learning a lesson.

Torak's ancient world is a real living, breathing one. Paver's research is meticulous, but again, it's all in the atmosphere. There are no boring archaeological lessons in her books, just the story, and the story gives a real understanding of what human society was like before the advent of agriculture.

And then there's Wolf, Torak's pack-brother and guide. I don't think I've ever met an animal in a book so real and credible as Wolf. He's not anthropomorphised; he's as wolf-like as you can imagine and his thoughts and feelings are simple but intense. It's a fine line to tread, but Paver treads it with ease. There's a point in the book when Wolf finally realises that Torak is human - not-wolf - and it almost broke my heart. But I wasn't weeping for a human in animal dress; I was weeping for Wolf.

You really cannot let them miss this book.

Children who like this blend of fantasy, mythology and history will also enjoy Beth Webb's Star Dancer and Katherine Langrish's Troll trilogy.

Buy Oath Breaker by Michelle Paver at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Oath Breaker by Michelle Paver at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Oath Breaker by Michelle Paver at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Oath Breaker by Michelle Paver at Amazon.com.


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The Author said:

I'm writing with a belated thank you for your wonderful review of Oath Breaker. I really appreciate the care with which you read the book, and I'm so glad that you liked it. Once again, thank you! Michelle Paver.