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Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver
No clipping, no rips or tears. Not ex libr. No writing. Juvenile fiction.
Plus: The Koreatown killer and all those food references.
The clans fall prey to a stalking sickness. Torak embarks on a search for a cure, which takes him to mysterious islands where the Seal Clan live. The Seal Mage, Tenris, promises to help him make a remedy.
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Torak meets a Seal Clan boy named Bale, who later becomes his friend. While on the island, Torak discovers that he is a spirit walker: his souls can move into other creatures, allowing him to feel and think as they do, but still remain himself. Tenris is not as helpful as he originally seemed: he is one of the Soul Eaters and plans to increase his powers by eating Torak's heart and becoming a spirit walker.
Torak finds out that Tenris is actually his uncle, and the man known as the Crippled Wanderer who created the demon bear that killed Torak's father. Tenris is killed by an orca , in revenge for Tenris killing its offspring for its teeth. Eventually, they discover the reason for the mysterious sickness is that Tenris sent enslaved children known as tokoroths to poison juniper berries. In their desire to subjugate all the clans, the Soul Eaters have captured a range of hunting animals—including Wolf—which they will sacrifice to unleash demons.
They plan to control the demons with a fire opal. Torak and Renn make a dangerous journey across the frozen wilderness into the Far North to rescue Wolf; their friendship is tested to the limits and they become separated. They escape, but not before the Soul Eaters brand Torak against his will as one of them. Torak manages to deceive them into thinking Renn is the spirit walker who caused the death of Tenris. Renn, meanwhile, has possession of the fire-opal and is about to sacrifice herself to destroy it.
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Nef, one of the Soul Eaters, saves Renn and sacrifices herself instead, using her life to destroy the power of the fire opal and repay the Torak's father for saving her life before he was killed. Torak is then told that the fire opal that was destroyed was one of three parts. The original fire opal was broken by Torak's father to start the great fire that scattered the Soul Eaters. Another of the fragments was used by Tenris to create the demon bear and the Tokoroths, and is believed to have been lost when he was killed.
The whereabouts of the last fragment are unknown. After the secret of his Soul Eater mark is discovered, Torak is cast out by the clans, though Renn fiercely and furiously does all she can to stop it. Bale, who has traveled to the forests from his island in the sea, teams up with Renn to go after him: Renn helps him and then both Renn and Bale follow him as Torak wanders, suffering from insanity. Renn and Bale fight along the way, as Bale treats Renn condescendingly because of his beliefs about women, and he is confused about how strong and insistent Renn is.
Renn sends help to Torak in the form of two ravens, which Torak has named Rip and Rek. While Torak is recovering his reason, Seshru the Viper Mage, a Soul Eater, uses her powers to draw him to her so she can control him. Renn and Bale together defy clan law by trying to help Torak. Seshru is revealed to be Renn's mother. Torak shows the clans that destroying him will not help them in their struggle against the Soul Eaters, and they accept him back.
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Fin-Kedinn makes Torak his foster son. Torak learns that his father hid the last fragment of the fire opal inside the knife he gave Torak before his death, and it is part of the reason why Seshru was hunting him. Seshru then steps forward to try and claim the fragment. Renn is about to kill Seshru, but Bale steals her bow and kills Seshru himself, because Renn would be tainted if she killed her own mother. In Seshru's final moments, Torak uses her life to destroy the fragment of the fire opal. Fin-Kedinn changes Torak's outcast tattoo, making him part of all types of clans. Bale also tells Torak and Fin-Kedinn that the fragment of the fire opal thought lost when Tenris was killed may not have been with him when he died.
The three realize this was why the two surviving Soul Eaters were not hunting Torak as well. While guarding the Seal Islands against the Soul Eaters for fear of them trying to take the last part of the Fire Opal, Bale asks Torak for his permission to take Renn for his mate, which makes Torak angry.
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Later, Bale is murdered by Thiazzi the Oak Mage, who then takes the last fragment of the fire opal. Torak and Renn discover that Thiazzi is controlling the Deep Forest clans by impersonating their mages. A forest fire takes hold and Torak and Renn are separated. Torak finds his way to Thiazzi, while Renn is taken by the Deep Forest tribe. She defies the tribe and their belief that women can't be mages, by insisting that she is a mage and showing them her bond with Wolf and the ravens, Rip and Rek.
She is then kidnapped by Thiazzi and imprisoned in a giant, hollow tree, where she cuts herself free in time to avoid choking on smoke. She climbs to the top, from where she sees Torak fighting Thiazzi. She throws a burning brand of wood to Torak, and a burning ember sets fire to Thiazzi's hair. He falls to his death as Eostra's eagle owl snatches the fire opal from the Oak Mage.
Many months later, Wolf and his mate Darkfur show Torak and Renn their new cubs. Although Torak is happy for Wolf, the fight is not over, as Eostra, the last and most dangerous of the Soul Eaters, now has the fire opal. The Eagle Owl Mage, Eostra, sends a shadow sickness among the clans, to spread fear among them. Torak then sees his father's soul, seemingly in pain.
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Torak sets out alone to try and confront his destiny. Renn follows Torak, catching up with him. Wolf's family is then attacked by Eostra's owl, sending Darkfur to her death, killing one of the cubs, and using the other to lure Wolf away for a time. Renn and Torak venture to the Mountain of Ghosts with a grieving Wolf to stop Eostra from killing all life in the forest. When Renn injures her leg because of Eostra's demon dogs, Torak leaves without her: when she has recovered, she goes after him, furious. Torak is captured by a strange boy named Dark who has been cast out by his clan. After much pleading, Dark releases Torak and ventures with him to the Mountain of Ghosts.
Torak and Wolf enter the Mountain, but Dark is trapped outside. Dark then meets Renn, who after trying to follow Torak had found Darkfur. Wolf's mate had nearly perished after going through miles in the snow with an infected wound to rescue her last cub. Torak and Wolf confront Eostra, who is summoning the ghosts of the dead Soul Eaters, including Torak's father. Renn and Dark also attempt to intervene, but Eostra appears unstoppable.
July has been one of the most uneventful months this year so far. Beyond that, July brought a few re-releases on Switch and other platforms. Not too many games were interested in keeping us indoors this August. The late release season officially kicked off in September, and things have been especially busy. A number of anticipated sequels to big games, not to mention meaty new expansions, all dropped in September. Most publishers tend to avoid October for obvious reasons. Ghost Recon Breakpoint kicks off the month with a bang, followed by the Grid reboot — before things quiet down for a few days.