I was only about ten years old when, for some reason, my mother bought Spirit Walker. The language was still too difficult for me then, and I didn’t understand a thing of the plot. I didn’t have any idea that it was the follow-up to Wolf Brother, so I soon stopped reading. The series only came to my attention several years later, when Oath Breaker had just been released and I had just started showing a new interest in books, after not having read for some years.
The CoAD series is definitely one of the reasons why I picked up reading again: I was baffled by the quality of the storytelling, I devoured the books and waited very impatiently for the release of Ghost Hunter. Since then, I’ve re-read the books many times. Torak, Renn and Wolf live in one of the most vividly written books I have ever come across. Michelle Paver not only weaves together a story full of action, excitement, discovery, friendship, loyalty, and coming of age, she also succeeds in adding wonderful descriptions and explanations of how people lived in the Stone Age: what animals did they hunt, how did they do that, what kind of plants did they use for what purposes, how did they experience and explain their surroundings and important events, how did they all link that with their religion, and so on. I’ve always felt that the CoAD books are the children’s version of Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children.
Apart from the fact that they’ve made me read more, it’s also the first series of which I was more or less aware that there was an entire fanbase, and that I wasn’t reading the books in a vacuum, so to speak, without having any idea who else might read them. Although I wasn’t a member, I do remember spending countless hours online on the websites of The Clan and the wiki The Clan had made for CoAD, and I also remember how big it was, how it explained the entire world and the events and characters in the books in so much detail. I loved that. Back then, I didn’t think of it because I was too young, but CoAD was probably the first series of which I was, in a way, part of what we now call the ‘fandom’. And I still am – it’s still one of my best-loved book series ever.
And although I have never been someone who immediately wants some sequels to appear after a series has finished – in my opinion, sequels mostly don’t succeed in capturing the magic of the original books –, I’ve always made an exception for CoAD. I never doubted that it was possible to go back to Torak, Renn, Wolf and the others and let them have all kinds of other adventures with a quality that is equal to the original series, so I was beyond excited when Viper’s Daughter finally appeared, eleven years after Ghost Hunter. It was a long wait – almost half my life, literally –, but it’s been worth it. Torak and Renn are some of the most well-rounded characters I’ve ever come across, and their relationship, together with its evolution, throughout the books, is one of the most beautiful ever as well. There aren’t many perfect books out there, but the CoAD books are one of the exceptions.