by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
Spirit of the Wolves, by Dorothy Hearst
NYC, Simon & Schuster, December 2014, hardcover $26.00 (356 pages), Kindle $13.99.
Spirit of the Wolves is a.k.a. The Wolf Chronicles, Book Three, following Promise of the Wolves (2008) and Secrets of the Wolves (2011).
“I crouched at the edge of Fallen Tree Gathering Place, a freshly caught rabbit warm and limp in my jaws, my haunches trembling. The Swift River wolves were preparing for a morning hunt, touching noses and speaking quietly to one another. Dawn light filtered through the branches of two tall oaks that stood guard at the clearing’s edge, dappling the Fallen Spruce that divided my pack’s largest gathering place.” (p. 1)
Fourteen thousand years ago, primitive humans lived with animals as part of nature. That was about when mankind began to consider itself separate from, and better than, the other animals, and began to live apart. But according to the Prologue in Promise of the Wolves, set 40,000 years ago, the wolves had already been sent the “Promise of the Wolf”. “What is the promise of the wolf? Never consort with humans. Never kill a human unprovoked. Never allow a mixed-blood wolf to live.”
The Wolf Chronicles is the first-person story of Kaala Smallteeth, a female cub born into the Swift River wolf pack of the Wide Valley; a rich land of several wolf packs, many prey animals, and tribes of men. At this time there are also huge Greatwolves (dire wolves?) who act as guardians – and guards – of the regular wolves, making sure that the wolves obey the Promise and never consort with humans, lest they start becoming mysteriously subservient to man (which presumably means evolving into domesticated dogs).