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Headscratchers / The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness

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When the switch to clear fantasy?

In the first book, it's rather unclear whether there is actual magic in this world, or whether its a mixture of animal training, use of herbs, religious beliefs, and genetic quirks (such as an unusually large bear). It's fantasy, but if the genre isn't to one's tastes, with a little Willing Suspensionof Disbelief regarding Torak being able to speak to Wolf, readers can interpret the fantasy as simply the characters explaining away things they don't understand. In the second book, it becomes undeniably fantasy when Torak learns he can Spirit Walk. I know it's to advance the plot, but I find it interesting that the author chooses to go to straight out fantasy over keeping it ambiguous.
  • Paver probably intended it to be fantasy all along, and simply didn't account for the fact that different fans have different thresholds for Willing Suspension of Disbelief. What is ambiguous to a reader might not look so from the author's POV.


It's made explicitly clear in the first book, and reiterated several times throughout the series, that it's forbidden to speak aloud the name of a dead person for the following five summers. IIRC, Torak doing so in Oathbreaker is treated as a major issue, incites conflict between him and Renn, and even becomes a minor subplot due to being haunted by Bale's spirit.


So why, then, in Spirit Walker, does Torak mention recently-deceased Oslak by name approximately three times throughout the course of the book? Despite this law being referenced after Oslak dies, Torak willingly breaks it on multiple occasions. The law is not mentioned at any of these points, nor are there any repercussions — implied or otherwise — for doing so. None of the other characters react to it either, unlike in Oathbreaker. Maybe just forgetfulness on Paver's part?

  • Probably. She keeps firmly to the rule regarding all the other characters.


Corpse Looting

Near the climax of the first book, Torak runs across a corpse and is very careful not to touch it, because it might anger the dead's spirit. Yet he shows precisely zero concern over lifting things from the man's body, i. e. looting the corpse. Er, what?
  • Taking dead people's supplies is going to improve your own likelihood of survival if you need anything they have. A taboo against corpse-looting would probably backfire on a lot of people in their society, so it never developed.

The Knife

At the beginning of Wolf Brother, Fa gives Torak his knife instead of letting him keep his own and leaving Fa's with him. Outcast makes it pretty clear that this was because he stole a chunk of the fire opal and hid it in the hilt. But, assuming Fa's ultimate goal was the destruction of the fire opal, he could have achieved that just by taking it to the grave with him - sure, someone has to die but he's dying anyway. As things stand, Fa has now saddled Torak with the Artifact of Doom that he will have to either kill himself or someone else to destroy, as well as a clear sign to anyone who meets Torak that they have some connection, to no benefit to Torak. So why?
  • He was mortally wounded by the demon bear that he knew was about to come back and finish killing him off in mere moments. There was only so much time to instruct Torak for preparing him for the Death Journey and the boy himself for the quest to destroy the bear before it would come back.


Who did they think the Walker was?

Near the beginning of Soul Eater, Torak and Renn meet the Walker again in the northern side of the Forest, and he proceeds to tell them a) where the Soul Eaters plan to go, and b) that Seshru stole his strike-fire, somehow. So it's very clear that he's encountered them, recently - but the four of them know who he is. How did they steal his stuff and yet not recognize him as their ex-member?
  • He never says that he met them all face-to-face. He just says that "the sideways one" (Seshru) stole his strike-fire. It was made to look like the Walker perished in the Great Fire fourteen years earlier, and given how much he must have changed in appearance during all his years in madness and exile, it would make sense that Seshru (who's cunning but arrogant) wouldn't recognize the dirty old madman as the former Otter Mage. And even if she did, she may not have thought it important enough to tell the others. In Ghost Hunter, Eostra states clearly that she believed Narrander to have died in the Great Fire.

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