Your part in this is finished. I will take the Nanuak to the Mountain. I will offer the blood of the Listener to save my people!
~ Hord telling the captured Torak what he intends to do with him.

Hord is the secondary antagonist of Wolf Brother, the first book of Michelle Paver's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series (which takes place 6,000 years ago in stone-age Europe). He is the son of Seshru as well as Renn's older brother and Fin-Kedinn's nephew.

Biography

Before Wolf Brother

Hord was born about nineteen years before Wolf Brother to the Raven Clan. His father was the brother of Fin-Kedinn, the clan's chieftain, and his mother would later be known as Seshru. When Hord was roughly six years old, his mother left to join the Healers. She later returned briefly with the intention of creating her own tokoroth. Since Hord was too old to be used as a demon's host, she had another child with his father. The infant child was saved from Seshru by Saeunn the Raven Mage and named Renn. When Hord was in his early teens, his father died on the ice river close to Lake Axehead, so Fin-Kedinn took him and Renn under his wing.

Shortly before the beginning of Wolf Brother, Hord was fostered with the Red Deer Clan for nine months because he wished to learn from the best practisers of Magecraft and Saeunn told him to go to them. He had not been with them for long before they took in a man who appeared to be a crippled wanderer from the Willow Clan. He tricked Hord to hunt for him a young bear even though clan laws forbid hunting predators. Then he used the Fire Opal to conjure an elemental, the strongest type of demons, and trapped it inside the bear's body. The freshly created Demon Bear went on a rampage across the Forest, and Hord was left feeling guilty about his role in its creation.

Wolf Brother

Hord first appears when he, Renn and Oslak capture Torak and Wolf. Because the boy hunted a roe buck on the Raven Clan's lands, they accuse him of stealing it and take him and Wolf back to the Ravens' camp. When Fin-Kedinn allows Torak to fight in a duel so that he won't be killed, Hord volunteers to be his opponent. Torak wins the duel by using broth steam to blind Hord, much to the latter's anger.

Torak's act of weaponizing steam against Hord and the soundless whistle which he has made to call Wolf causes Renn, Fin-Kedinn and Saeunn to believe that Torak might be the prophesied Listener. The prophecy states that the Listener who "fights with air and speaks with silence" will end the demon bear's threat over the Forest by "offering his heart's blood to the World Spirit". One interpretation of the prophecy is that Torak must be sacrificed, and his blood must be taken to the Mountain of the World Spirit as an offering. Hord is among those who support this interpretation, and he wishes to take Torak's blood to the Mountain himself.

While Torak is kept captive in the Ravens' camp as the Ravens negotiate with the other clans' representatives what to do with him, Hord briefly talks with him about the bear and how a boy cannot be a savior. Renn ends up freeing Torak and Wolf as well as accompanying them on their journey to the Mountain because she believes Torak has to go there himself. Hord is angered by this perceived betrayal. Torak, Renn and Wolf spend the following month searching for the three strongest pieces of the Nanuak — a flowing life-force that every living creature has — which must be offered to the World Spirit before it agrees to destroy the demon bear. Meanwhile, the Raven Clan faces the bear that kills two of their members and injures Fin-Kedinn.

Three days after the Ravens' encounter with the bear, Hord finds and captures Torak, Renn and Wolf who have found the last Nanuak piece. Having lost some of his sanity during the passing weeks, he takes the Nanuak pieces for himself, disowns Renn and takes Torak to the Ravens' new camp. He tries to convince his elders to let him kill Torak and go to the Mountain with the Nanuak pieces and Torak's blood, but Fin-Kedinn ultimately decides to let Torak go to the Mountain with Wolf and the Nanuak pieces. When Torak and Wolf set off the next morning, Hord appears to be resigned to his elders' will as he surprisingly helps Torak with the latter's pack.

When Torak and Wolf are on the Mountain as the bear climbs up to reach them, they are suddenly attacked by Hord who demands the Nanuak parts for himself, fervently insisting that he must take them to the Mountain in order to make amends. As he gains the upper hand over Torak, however, the bear reaches them. As Wolf holds the Nanuak pieces, Torak realizes that the "heart's blood" he must offer to the Mountain is Wolf, so he tells Wolf to take the Nanuak pieces to the Mountain. Hord tries to follow Wolf, but he slips and falls right into the bear's clutches. Accepting Torak's offering, the World Spirit sends an avalanche which kills both Hord and the bear.

Appearance

Hord is described to be handsome, tall, and well-built. He has dark red hair like his sister and uncle as well as a short beard of the same color. His eyes are light blue. However, nearly a month after his duel with Torak, he has become a gaunt shadow of his former self due to all of his anxiety. His eyes are raw due to his lack of sleep, and he has bitten his fingernails off.

Torak finds Hord's finely made clothes to be impractically decorated. His jerkin and leggings are stitched in braided sinew that is dyed red as well as edged in birdskin that is dyed green. He wears a magnificent yet clinking necklace of red deer teeth. Like the other Ravens, he has a strip of raven feathers sewn to his jerkin and three fine blue-black bars tattooed on his cheekbones.

Personality

Hord gives the impression of being haughty and insecure at the same time. He has a desperate need to be the best at everything, yet he is afraid that he will always end up being second-rate. He became a foster of the Red Deer Clan because they are the best at Magecraft in the Forest. He volunteers to duel with Torak because he is sure of his victory against the twelve-year-old boy. He also drinks strengthening elderberry juice without offering Torak some, so his more fair-minded sister Renn gives Torak some of that juice. He loves to be the center of attention as shown during his duel with Torak. When he loses, it is hard to say if his anger is directed at Torak or himself, but he is still a sore loser. When nervous, he gnaws his fingernails.

Hord does not care much about his little sister Renn. Like most of their clanmates, he dislikes her due to her nearly black eyes and gift in Magecraft. He is known to tease and belittle her. When she releases Torak to aid him in his quest, Hord thinks her to be a traitor who has disgraced him. He says that after her quiver was found in a stream, he was glad instead of sad when they thought she was dead. He even slaps her in the face and disowns her when he catches her and Torak. As for his uncle Fin-Kedinn, Hord tries to make himself look good in his eyes. When Torak is first brought before Fin-Kedinn, Hord makes it sound like he captured the "thief" when it was actually Oslak who did that. However, he says that if Fin-Kedinn dies from the wound inflicted by the demon bear, he will ensure that he will become the new Raven Leader. He also ignores the Raven girl Dyrati who has a crush on him.

Hord is ultimately brought over the edge due to feeling guilty for his role in the bear's creation. Unable to accept that Torak is the Listener, he makes a desperate attempt to kill Torak so that he can deliver the Nanuak pieces to the World Spirit himself. This, combined with his impatience, proves to be his downfall.

Powers and Abilities

Hord is a strong and experienced fighter. He can use a knife, spear, ax, bow and arm-guard. Despite his size, he moves as gracefully as a lynx.

Quotes

You're not the Listener, you can't be. (Torak: Tell that to the others.) We don't need a boy to help us kill the bear. We can do it ourselves. I can do it. I'll save the clans. (Torak: You wouldn't stand a chance.) You've seen it, haven't you? You've seen the bear. (Torak: Of course I've seen it. It killed my father.) I've seen it too. (Torak: Where? When?) I was in the south. With the Red Deer Clan. I was learning Magecraft. Saeunn, our Mage, she wanted me to go. I was there when the bear was caught. I — I saw it made.
~ Hord telling the captive Torak a bit about his role in the demon bear's creation.
You're no longer my sister. We thought you were dead when we found your quiver in the stream. Fin-Kedinn didn't speak for three days, but I didn't grieve. I was glad. You betrayed your clan, and you shamed me. I wish you were dead.
~ Hord disowning his little sister Renn after slapping her in the face.
Give me the Nanuak! I have to take it to the Mountain! (Torak: Get away from me!) Give me the Nanuak. I will have it! It's my fault this is happening! I have to make it end! (Torak: It was you. You were there when the bear was made. You were with the Red Deer Clan. You helped the crippled Soul-Eater trap the demon.) I didn't know! He said he needed a bear — I caught a young one. I never knew what he meant to do!
~ Hord saying his last words during his breakdown.

Trivia

  • Aki, the son of the Boar Clan Leader, has in Outcast a similar role to the one Hord has in Wolf Brother. Both young men are arrogant, competitive and antagonize Torak due to their insecurities, culminating in them trying to kill him as they are in great danger during the climax, with Torak trying to help them both. The difference is that while Hord ends up being killed with the demon bear by an avalanche, Aki wises up so that Torak can save his life, leading to him becoming much nicer as the result.
  • Viper's Daughter introduces Naiginn who turns out to be Hord and Renn's half-brother through their shared mother Seshru. Renn finds him to be uncomfortably similar to Hord in vanity and trying to prove himself to be the best.
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