Monday, June 20, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday -- Chronicles of Ancient Darkness... and a Giveaway!

Okay, I admit it.  I don't always finish an entire series. I read the first three Artemis Fowl books and although I enjoyed them I had no desire to continue.  I read the first three Children of the Lamp books and again, loved them, but didn't continue.  Couldn't get past the first volume of Septimus Heap. But one series I gobbled up as soon as I could get my hands on each ARC:  

Chronicles of Ancient Darkness, a six-volume series by Michelle Paver  (published between 2004 and 2009 in the US by HarperCollins, in England by Orion, for ages 9 to 12).

I love them all, and especially how the characters grow throughout the series, but to keep this post short I'll just talk about the first volume.

Wolf Brother  (hardcover published 2004, paperback published 2006)

Source: advanced reading copy from publisher (although I later purchased all of these books)

Synopsis (from the publisher):

The epic journey of boy and wolf begins.

Six thousand years ago. Evil stalks the land. According to legend, only twelve-year-old Torak and his wolf-cub companion can defeat it. Their journey together takes them through deep forests, across giant glaciers, and into dangers they never imagined. Torak and Wolf are terrified of their mission. But if they do not battle to save their world, who will?

Why I loved it:  It's different! How many children's books can you think of that take place six thousand years ago in northern Europe?  This book is packed with adventure and rich with sensory details. The writing is gorgeous!  It's incredibly easy to picture Torak's world because the author shows it to us so well (and she's really done her research).  We run through the forests right alongside Torak and Wolf as they search for the demon-possessed bear.  This book is so exciting, you won't want to stop reading.  It's an interesting mix of fantasy and reality, leaning more toward reality. 

The other thing I love about this book (and the whole series) is the ever-deepening relationship between Torak and Wolf, and the way they communicate. Orphaned and clanless, Torak has no one but Wolf for company in the beginning. The book is written in third person, and occasional chapters focus on Wolf.  The fact that he believes Torak is a tall tailless wolf is priceless.

The characterizations are wonderful.  Besides Torak and Wolf, you'll get to know Fin-Kedinn, the Raven Clan chief who allows Torak to stay with them and who becomes a sort of mentor to Torak.  And Renn, a girl who helps Torak.  She's a Raven Clan seer who predicts that Torak will fulfill an ancient prophecy.  You'll see more of these characters in the other volumes.

Here's a peek at the other books in the series:

Book Two: Spirit Walker

Book Three: Soul Eater

Book Four: Outcast

 Book Five: Oath Breaker

 Book Six: Ghost Hunter

MMGM is the brainchild of Shannon Whitney Messenger.

Other regulars:
Shannon O'Donnell at Book Dreaming
Myrna Foster at The Night Writer
Sherrie Petersen at Write About Now
Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles
Brooke Favero at Somewhere in the Middle
Deb Marshall at Just Deb
Ally Beecher at Kid Lit Frenzy
Barbara Watson at Novel and Nouveau
Anita Laydon Miller at her middle grade blog
Michael G-G at Middle Grade Mafioso
Jessica Lei at her blog 
Pam Torres at So I'm Fifty

(Sooner or later, two of us are going to feature the same book on the same day.  Inevitable, right?)

So what do you think?  Have you read Chronicles of Ancient Darkness?  Does anything else even begin to compare?   What?!?  You haven't read it?!?  Well, how about a giveaway then?   I'll give one copy of the paperback of Wolf Brother to one lucky winner.

To Enter:

1) Be a follower
2) Comment on this blog post
3) +2 points for tweeting OR mentioning in your blog

That's it!  This giveaway is open internationally and ends at 11:59 pm EDT on Friday June 24.  I'll announce the winner no later than Sunday June 26.


  1. Sounds like a great series. I hadn't heard of it. And if you've read them all, it must be good. I'd love to win and am a follower.

  2. ooooh! I keep picking these up in the bookstore. I've been drawn to the covers. Thanks for this great review. I will definitely get them now!

  3. Thanks for the review and giveaway! I'm into prehistoric fiction, but I can't believe that I haven't heard of this series before...


    susanna DOT pyatt AT student DOT rcsnc DOT org

  4. You did better than me. I couldn't finish the first artemis fowl book.

    I have the Septimus Heap book. Never finished it, either. But that's because I realized there would be no romance in it. My 9 yo has read it, and several others from the series. I'll have to let him know about the Chronicles of Ancient Darknesss. :D

  5. Hi Natalie! Can't believe you haven't heard of this series. I think you would like them.

    Hi Terry Lynn: yes, the covers are beautiful, aren't they?

    Susie, if you love prehistoric fiction, you DEFINITELY need to read these!

    Oh ha ha, Stina, about Artemis Fowl! I hear you. And your 9 yr old son is the perfect reader for these books!

    Good luck to all (and Susie, the tweet is duly noted. Thanks!)

  6. These sound fascinating! And I hadn't heard of them, so thank you. My son would enjoy them.

  7. I've seen this series, but never picked it up. You've totally got my interest up now! They sound like something I can share with the boys in my school! I think I'll get the first one for sure.

    I'm a new follower!

  8. Yes yes on these books. We have them at the library and you know I've not read them yet. Like the covers on the ones you've shared...!

    p.s. yes on Barbara Park...her books for middle grade are so, so funny. She just knows how to capture kids and humour in words and transfer that to the reader.

  9. Awesome review. I haven't seen these books before. Thanks, I will definitely be adding these to my TBR pile.

  10. I agree--this series looks really different from all the other stuff that's out there. I would love to check this out for my school. And I am a follower.

  11. Looks like a great series to get into. Thanks!
    GFC follower

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  12. Thank you for this giveaway! this book looks so cool!


    okay yeah! i tweeted about this giveaway!/darkestbooks/status/82875330951520256

  13. oooh, looks really interesting! You haven't steered me wrong yet!
    I'll go tweet about it now.

  14. I'd never even heard of these. Thanks so much!

  15. How have I missed these? They sound captivating. Please enter me in the drawing, Joanne.

  16. Thanks for reviewing this book. I'm going to put it on my to-read bookshelf at Goodreads. I would love to win a copy!

    I have Book Giveaway on my blog too, which is a new feature. My first prize is Gennifer Choldenko’s new MG book, No Passengers Beyond This Point.

    I write for MG and look forward to reading your posts, although the Google subscriber is blocking me for some reason. I'll still Tweet and share.

    Rahma Krambo
    Mystic Coffee Blog
    Author | Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandria

  17. Thanks Myrna, Michael, and Rahma. Yeah, Blogger's doing one of those weird things again, Rahma, where the followers widget just disappears... Anyway, welcome to the blog!

    And to anyone who has tweeted, thanks and I've noted your extra points. (I'm @booksnbrains. If you follow me, I'll try to remember to follow you back!)

    Only a little over a day left to enter!

  18. I have complied with the rules for the book contest and also retweeted what GuardianCats tweeted. Hope I win!

    You know, I appreciate when authors have such giveaways. Thank you.