|“||Ah, you're too young. I thought I had more time. So much I haven't told you. Don't -don't hate me for that later.||„|
|~ Torak's dying father foreshadowing the awful secrets his son will discover about him.|
The unnamed man who is known mostly as Torak's father is an important character in Michelle Paver's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series (which takes place 6,000 years ago in prehistoric Europe during the Stone Age). Though he dies immediately in the first chapter of the first book, his mysterious past intervenes with Torak's quest to destroy the Soul Eaters.
Torak's father was born roughly 36 years before the beginning of Wolf Brother. His father was from the Wolf Clan and his mother was from the Seal Clan. He was declared as a Wolf Clan member. He had a brother named Tenris who became a Seal Clan member and was two years older. When Tenris was 11 years old and his brother was 9 years old, they met the 11-year-old Fin-Kedinn, the future Raven Clan chieftain. The trio lived for 5 months as the Wolf Clan's fosters. While Fin-Kedinn was interested about hunting, both of the brothers lived for Magecraft. They still remained as good friends for 10 years. However, during the 11th year, Torak's father was appointed as the Wolf Clan's mage, but Tenris himself did not become the Seal Mage. This led him to wander in isolation for years.
At some point, Fin-Kedinn and Torak's father were acquainted with an unnamed young woman from the Red Deer Clan. They both fell in love with her, but she ultimately loved Torak's father like a woman loves her mate, while she loved Fin-Kedinn like a brother. That woman later became Torak's mother.
At some point, Torak's father prevented Nef the Bat Mage from committing suicide after her son died. This made her feel indebted to him after his death. It is not until the end of Soul Eater that she gets to repay her debt by helping Torak in destroying the first piece of Fire Opal at the cost of her life.
A Healer and Soul Eater
Thirteen years before the events of Wolf Brother, several clan mages banded together to help the clans across the Forest. They called themselves the Healers, and Tenris returned from his wanderings to join them. Torak's father joined them as well despite the warnings of his mate and Fin-Kedinn. This turned out to be a grave mistake, for most of the Healers were corrupted by their ambitions. Calling themselves the Soul Eaters, they wanted to oppress everyone under their rule. Of the seven Soul Eaters only Torak's father and the Otter Mage Narrander were not corrupted. They tried to resign, but they were not allowed to. Eostra the Eagle Owl Mage forced Narrander to remain by holding his son Narik hostage, but it is unknown what was used to pressure Torak's father. His clan was so ashamed of him becoming a Soul Eater that they became as elusive and shadowy as their totem and started bearing the mark of shame by staining their shaved temples with red ochre.
Torak's father would still not let the Soul Eaters dominate the Forest. He summoned them on Souls' Night on a hill at the western edge of the Deep Forest. The hill that would later be known as the Burnt Hill has long held demons trapped in the rocks. The Soul Eaters intended to release the demons and use the Fire Opal to bind them to do their bidding. However, once the demons were released, Torak's father shattered the Fire Opal into three pieces, making the Soul Eaters lose their control over the demons. He then set a fire which banished the demons back into the rocks. Unfortunately, the fire got quickly out of hand, and the resulting forest fire — known afterwards as the Great Fire — destroyed the entire valley around the hill. All the Soul Eaters survived, though Narrander's son Narik died and the Otter Mage lost his mind out of grief. The other five Soul Eaters went into hiding, and Narrander was made to appear to have died in the Great Fire.
Torak's father fooled nearly everyone to think that he and his mate had perished too. They begged shelter from Fin-Kedinn, but because he was angry and jealous at Torak's father, he turned them away and never saw them again. They hid in the Deep Forest, but they had to live on the move because Tenris found out that they had survived. Their son Torak was born in the summer that followed the Great Fire. The World Spirit decreed that Torak's fate is to fight to undo the evil his father had helped to create. The Spirit made the boy a spirit walker to aid him in this quest, but as the prize, the mother had to decree him clanless and die three months later.
A solitary father
Torak's father raised Torak in secrecy for twelve years, first allowing him to live for three months under a female wolf's care. This taught the boy to communicate with wolves. The former Wolf Mage taught his son hunting and tracking instead of Magecraft, skills that would prove invaluable in his quest to defeat the Soul Eaters. However, he did no tell Torak anything about the Soul Eaters or his history with them because he did not want his son's childhood to be darkened by his destiny too soon. Though he knew his son to be clanless, he allowed Torak to believe himself to be of the Wolf Clan. Though he gave Torak the clan tattoos, he added to them a tiny scar that would mark him as not a true Wolf.
Torak's father also kept one of the three Fire Opal shards hidden in the hilt of his ceremonial knife until Torak discovers it in Outcast. Five years before Wolf Brother, Torak's father went with Torak to a clan meet at the sea-shore. It was the only time he ever took his son to see people. Covering their clan tattoos with bearberry juice, he made a game of them disguising themselves. Leaving Torak alone for a while, the former Wolf Mage sought out the Raven Mage Saeunn and told her about his son. He did not reveal her more than the clanless Torak had been fed by a wolf and might someday vanquish the Soul Eaters. He then took Torak away from a stock of mocking children, laughing at the insults of the ignorant children.
Death and legacy
In the first book, Wolf Brother, Torak and his father are setting a camp, only to be suddenly attacked by a bear that is possessed by a demon. The monster has been created by none other than Tenris to get his brother killed. The bear wounds the former Wolf Mage mortally. Before dying, he advises Torak to travel north, find the Mountain of the World Spirit and ask for the Spirit's help in destroying the bear. He knows that the bear will become invincible when the red eye of the Great Auroch (the Otherworld's strongest demon), a celestial body of great evil, is at its zenith in less than one moon. That is why he makes Torak swear that he will do as he asked or die trying. He also tells Torak that his guide shall find him. After receiving the Death Marks, he sends Torak to fetch water, knowing that the bear will return to finish its work. His last words are telling Torak to run before the bear finishes him off.
Throughout the series, Torak discovers many secrets his father had kept from him — both about himself and Torak. Though all of this leaves Torak with mixed feelings, he continues honoring his father's memory. The spirit of Torak's father appears briefly in the last book, Ghost Hunter. He and the other deceased Soul Eaters are summoned by Eostra. They are all under his control because the Eagle Owl Mage possesses their hairs. He vanishes when the spell is broken, bidding his last farewell to Torak.
As a young man, Torak's father was described to be eager to learn the ways of trees, prey and hunters. According to his brother Tenris, he often asked questions that began with a "why". He was also eager to do good, which is why he joined the Healers. Unfortunately, he believed himself to be infallible and did not listen to the advice of others, even his mate and best friend Fin-Kedinn about joining the Healers. After he realized his mistake of trusting the Soul Eaters, he was determined to stop them, for he was not a coward. He was also clever with the way he cowered his tracks and went into hiding.
After the former Wolf Mage's mate died, he never told his son much about her because the subject always made him very sad. He also kept Torak unaware of his future role in order to keep him safe and happy for as long as possible. He acted around Torak like a practical hunter and not like the former Wolf Mage, for he knew that Torak would need to use his head more than Magecraft in order to survive. He taught Torak to pay attention to the surrounding Forest like his mother so that he would not repeat his father's rash mistakes. In his last moments, he wisely predicts what his son would have to go through and asks him not to hate him later for all the secrets he kept for Torak's entire life. When Eostra summons the spirit of Torak's father in Ghost Hunter, she describes him as "wise as the wolf, the willful one". He apparently used to quote a saying of the Wolf Clan: the best thing in life is moving on to the next campsite.
Powers and abilities
Torak's father was a talented mage to the point that he was the greatest mage the Wolf Clan has ever had. In Outcast, the Wolf Clan chieftain Maheegun says that Torak's father was the only one able to spirit walk into a wolf for a few heartbeats. He also knew how to survive in the seclusion of the Forest with his son for twelve years. He taught Torak to hunt, track and use his mother's gift in listening to the Forest.
- The reason the name of Torak's father is not revealed is because it is forbidden to speak a dead person's name for five summers after they die. It is not revealed even when Eostra speaks it while summoning his spirit.