I am delighted to be sharing my experience reading Viper’s Daughter where Michelle Paver takes the reader back to a Stone Age World of clans, magic and survival in another tale that picks up a few years later into Torak and Renn’s lives for fans yet is equally a standalone and a fine jumping in point for new readers.
Viper’s Daughter is the Seventh book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness a Stone Age magical series that began the story of Torak with Wolf Brother in 2004 and quickly spawned standalone sequels as Torak and Renn’s adventures grew until the 6th book was published in 2009.
That selling point of course sounds incredible doesn’t it, a standalone continuing on from 6 books? Well I have to say it’s true, I missed Wolf Brother the first time around even though the concepts and themes explored sounded exciting and resonant for me, but the thought of beginning 6 books before the newest one is intense.
So when it was explained that yes indeed, Viper’s Daughter was a standalone I was curious and really keen to dive in, but reserving judgement, I mean the 7th book in a series I’ve never read before, what if I can’t get into this as much as I want to… and then I got quickly swept away into the plot!!!
Torak and Renn have been living in relative bliss for a few years just far enough away from the Raven Clan so that Torak and his Wolves feel independent and safe, but close enough for Renn, who misses her family enough for it to cause occasional friction between the two, and Renn has been more distant recently.
One day Torak’s happiness is shattered when he realises that Renn did not actually stay with family and is missing, and worse she has deliberately deceived him to conceal the creation of clothes, tools and more to run away.
Using all of his skills he embarks on a journey across land and water to find her, but what will happen if she doesn’t want to be found… and why, and if he does find her, can this be mended?
I came completely new into this series and yet, newbies like me will just go with the flow.
Michelle Paver has a way of orientating us in time, place and practice without information dumps. Little asides and ornamentation throughout the establishing chapters ground the new reader and fill in just enough to ‘get’ the feel and context and then feeding information in the same manner as it is necessarily encountered throughout the plot means you feel it is more natural and showing or experiencing than telling.
Even the passages from Wolf’s narration quickly make sense, with his descriptive vocabulary such as Fast Wet, Tall Tailless, Great Bright Eye and such just works and you go with it. It’s such a clever approach that by confidence and belief in itself makes you comfortable to follow and accept as a reader.
The sweeping natural vistas of the natural world, and haunting reminders of humanity’s fragility and feral origins give Viper’s Daughter a cinematic quality that helps orientate and immerse the reader, whether returning or new, very quickly and I loved the way the pair and indeed much of the clans around them live as much in harmony as possible with the world immediately around them and how this is clear from how attuned they are with sense of place and and how uncentered they become when they move to different habitats.
Michelle Paver’s scholarly research into the realities of life in the Stone Age are thoughtful and add a powerful authenticity to the experience, but for me, the magical mystical side of it all especially held wonder and delight.
The magical system was exciting in its raw earthiness, little complex ceremonial affairs unlike say ‘High Magic’ instead we see a practical habitat based attunement, offerings to spirits, wards and elements, a nature energy based spirituality with a spirit walking, dream weaving, heathen quality that permeates through, making sense of ones surroundings and accepting a battle between light and darkness of the very energies of the Earth.
This was incredibly appealing to me throughout the novel. I enjoyed in particular the spirit walking where Torak projected his spirit into the eagle that was nearby in order to better scope the territory whilst Wolf is ‘supposed’ to guard Torak’s vacant body but oh there’s this lovely feathery thing I could reach if I jump! This had a quality that struck a chord with my love for the earthy witchcraft of Pratchett’s Discworld where Granny Weatherwax would go borrowing laying in her bed holding a sign saying I ain’t dead!
Will I now read the rest of the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness? I am rather excited to add the other books to my collection. I really enjoyed the historical aspects, the anthropological aspects, and the magical mystical side of it all blended together with characters you believe in and hope for.
I can say as a complete newbie to this series that it isn’t something to worry about as you’ll be quickly immersed in the plot!! Through Michelle’s writing you are immediately taken into the warmth of this world and its characters as if they are old friends.
The reader just slots into the story which is pretty amazing and I would totally recommend picking up Viper’s Daughter if you’ve ever considered that the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness or Stone Age mystic adventures are stories that you can get your heart into.
Thank you so much to Megan at ed Public Relations and Zephyr & Head of Zeus for inviting me on the blog tour I thoroughly recommend that you check out all the other stops on the tour you check out new website https://wolfbrother.com for a range of activities from games and puzzles to guided reading for at home learning and of course read the book or listen to the audiobook narrated by the awesome Sir Ian McKellen!
Viper’s Daughter by Michelle Paver is out now, published by Zephyr, an imprint of Head of Zeus in hardback and now in paperback too!