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The Soul Eaters, formerly known as the Healers, are the main antagonists of Michelle Paver's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, which is set 6,000 years ago in stone-age Europe. They are a scandalous group of corrupted clan mages who originally acted as healers, but later turned to the dark side and wanted power over everyone.

Roles

The Soul Eaters (namely Tenris) serve as the unseen overarching antagonists of Wolf Brother. They also appear as the main antagonists of Spirit Walker, Soul Eater, Outcast, Oath Breaker and Ghost Hunter. The Soul Eaters (namely Seshru) are also the posthumous overarching antagonists of Viper's Daughter, Skin Taker and Wolfbane.

History

Before the start of the series

Slightly over 13 years before the events of Wolf Brother, seven talented mages from different clans banded together in secret. They were Eostra from the Eagle Owl Clan, Thiazzi from the Oak Clan, Seshru from the Viper Clan (though she had changed both her name and her clan), Nef from the Bat Clan, Tenris from the Seal Clan (though he was not at the time the official mage of his clan), Narrander from the Otter Clan, and an unnamed man from the Wolf Clan who happened to be Tenris' biological brother. They were not evil at first, for they wanted to help the clans across the Forest by curing the sick and warding off demons. Calling themselves the Healers, they all tattooed on their breastbones a black three-pronged fork, a tool used by mages to snare lost souls.

However, most of the Healers were soon corrupted by their ambitions. They wanted to rule the Forest and force all of its inhabitants to submit to them. Believing they knew that was best for everyone, they aspired to unite all the clans and make them stop practicing different rites. They held the Forest in their grip of terror, and people started spreading rumors that they could eat souls, leading them to be called the Soul Eaters instead of Healers. Though Eostra is the only one who is confirmed to be able to eat souls, the Soul Eaters used the fear their new title inspired to their advantage. The source of their power was the Fire Opal, a powerful red stone that grants its wielder the ability to control demons.

Narrander and the Wolf Mage became disillusioned with their evil colleagues and wanted to resign. The others were against this. In order to force Narrander to remain, Eostra took his eight-year-old son Narik hostage. It is unknown what was used to put pressure on the Wolf Mage, but the Soul Eaters possibly threatened the lives of his mate and his friend Fin-Kedinn from the Raven Clan.

The Soul Eaters' power was shattered on Souls' Night. Summoned by the Wolf Mage, they gathered at the western edge of the Deep Forest on a hill. The hill that would later be known as the Burnt Hill was keeping demons trapped under 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, the Wolf Mage cut the ritual short by shattering the Fire Opal into three pieces. 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. Some of the Soul Eaters were trapped and badly injured. Tenris got the left side of his body terribly burnt and Narrander lost one of his eyes. Everyone escaped with their lives though, except for Narik, whom Eostra had bound and hidden. When Narrander found his son's body, he lost his sanity out of grief.

The Soul Eaters scattered and went into hiding. The entire Forest believed them to be gone forever. The Wolf Mage and Fin-Kedinn made it appear that Narrander had perished in the Great Fire. The former Otter Mage became a mad outcast hermit known as the Walker. The Wolf Mage made it appear that he and his mate had perished too. They hid in the Deep Forest where their son Torak was born in the following summer. Unfortunately, Tenris found out that his brother and sister-in-law had survived. The couple had to live on the run.

On Midsummer Night when Torak was born, the World Spirit appeared to his mother in a vision. He decreed that Torak's destiny is to fight all his life to undo the evil his father had helped to create. After Torak's mother begged the Spirit to help her son with this, the boy was made a spirit walker. In exchange, Torak's mother had to decree her son clanless and die herself. The former Wolf Mage raised Torak in secrecy for twelve years, teaching him hunting and tracking instead of Magecraft, skills that would prove invaluable in his quest to defeat the Soul Eaters. Meanwhile, the other five Soul Eaters waited for a chance to have their revenge and rule the Forest.

Wolf Brother

Shortly before the start of the first book, Tenris, who had become the Seal Clan's mage after the Great Fire, went to the Red Deer Clan. Introducing himself as a crippled wanderer from the Willow Clan, he was sheltered by the Red Deers. He manipulated the young Raven Clan member named Hord to hunt for him a young bear. He used one of the Fire Opal fragments to conjure an elemental, the most powerful type of demons. He then bound it inside the bear's body to create a weapon that would hunt down and kill his brother. Too powerful for him to control, the Demon Bear went rampage across the Forest, while Tenris fled the Forest.

The bear finds Torak's father in the first chapter and kills him, leaving Torak all alone. As his father instructed before dying, he travels north and meets Wolf, the Raven Clan's chieftain Fin-Kedinn, and his niece Renn. With their help, Torak is able to appease the World Spirit enough for it to destroy the demon bear, and he starts living with the Raven Clan afterwards. However, he is first told about the Soul Eaters by Fin-Kedinn who warns him that they will seek out the one who destroyed the bear.

Spirit Walker

It is summer, and a half-year has passed since the events of the first book. Tenris decides to find the destroyer of his demon bear with the sickness he created three years earlier. He sends his two tokoroths to spread the sickness in the Forest by poisoning the juniper berries the clans use as nutriment. Torak leaves the Raven Clan in order to find a cure. He ends up at the seashore and unintentionally offends Bale and two other Seal Clan boys by using his Forest-made hunting gear to fish in the Sea. They take him to their home, the western Seal Islands, to have him punished. His friends Renn and Wolf manage to make their way to the Islands soon afterwards.

Torak meets the Seal Mage Tenris who holds the Seal Clan in his charismatic grip. Tenris realizes that Torak is his nephew and falsely agrees to make the cure, sending Torak to fetch a false cure ingredient. Torak repeatedly spirit walks without understanding it and eventually tells Tenris about these experiences. Realizing that Torak is a spirit walker, Tenris lures Torak into a trap. He holds Torak captive at the secluded Crag, reveals his true colors and prepares to steal Torak's power by eating his heart. He is stopped thanks to Renn, Wolf and Bale after they finish off his tokoroths. Tenris himself is killed by an orca whale as retribution for killing its young kin. Before dying, he reveals his kinship with Torak and tells him to demand from Fin-Kedinn answers about his father. Renn figures out that the sickness is spread through poisoned juniper berries, and once they are disposed of, the plague goes away.

Haunted by Tenris' last words, Torak goes to Fin-Kedinn for answers. He learns more about his father and uncle's pasts as well as that his father used to be a member of the Soul Eaters. Meanwhile, Seshru receives a message Tenris sent before dying: "The Wolf lives". The four remaining Soul Eaters are not sure about the message's meaning, though.

Soul Eater

It is winter and a half-year since the events of the second book. Thiazzi, Nef, Seshru and Eostra band together to take control over the Forest. With one of the Fire Opal pieces in their possession, they locate the Eye of the Viper, a mountain in the Far North. Said mountain contains the Door, an underground place where the layer between the mortal realm and the Otherworld is thinnest. The Soul Eaters intend to find the Door and open it to release demons from the Otherworld. They would then bind the demons to their will with the Fire Opal and use them to force all the clans to submit to them.

In order to cast charms to protect themselves from demons, the Soul Eaters require nine predators as sacrifices. Even though it is forbidden to hunt predators, they hunt down in the Forest and at the Far North nine predators: white owl, eagle, arctic fox, otter, wolverine, polar bear, lynx, wolf and human. The wolf they capture happens to be Torak's friend Wolf. This leads to Torak and Renn chasing the Soul Eaters down to the Eye of the Viper without their knowledge. Nef finds the human sacrifice in the form of a boy from the White Fox Clan. The boy is allowed to become the Soul Eaters' apprentice without knowing that they intend to sacrifice him as well. Taking the boy's place, Torak infiltrates the Soul Eaters' base in the mountain.

The Soul Eaters locate the Door, slaughtering the owl, polar bear and lynx on the way. However, when they prepare to open the Door, Torak and Renn release Wolf and all the other remaining sacrifices. When the three heroes confront the Soul Eaters, Seshru opens the Door for a short moment, releasing a flock of demons from the Otherworld. However, Torak causes Eostra to drop the Fire Opal, dispersing her control over the demons that wildly escape from the mountain. Renn steals the Fire Opal before fleeing south along with Torak and Wolf.

Seshru, Thiazzi and Nef (along with Eostra's eagle owl) chase after the heroes in order to recover the Fire Opal. They eventually find Torak who has been separated from Renn and Wolf. They finally discover that Torak is the son of the Wolf Mage who turned on them. They then force him to lead them to Renn and the Fire Opal, though not before Seshru forcefully tattoos the Soul Eaters' symbol on the boy's chest.

The Soul Eaters and Torak eventually find Renn who is standing on the edge of a chasm. She intends to jump down with the Fire Opal, for there is no other way to destroy its power. When a polar bear — that Torak has purposefully lured to follow them with the scent of his blood — appears, Torak spirit walks in it in order to fight the Soul Eaters who realize him to be a spirit walker. The released demons are driven there by Wolf and an arctic wolf pack. Suddenly, Nef, who wants to pay back to Torak's father who prevented her from committing suicide years ago, takes the Fire Opal from Renn and jumps in the chasm herself. The demons follow her and end up being trapped under ice. With one of the Fire Opal pieces lost, the remaining Soul Eaters scatter.

Outcast

Only two months after the events of the third book, Torak's Soul Eater tattoo is exposed thanks to Seshru. Ever since the Great Fire, the clan laws have dictated that anyone who carries the Soul Eaters' mark must be banished from the clans as an outcast who must be killed on sight and cannot be helped by anyone under the threat of being cast out as well. Having no clan to vouch for him, Torak is exiled.

Torak lives on the run for the two following months. He ends up hiding at Lake Axehead, spied on by Seshru who has made the lake sick by stealing sacred clay from the Otter Clan's healing spring. The ritual Torak commits in order to remove the Soul Eaters' mark is sabotaged by Seshru. He succumbs to soul-sickness that makes him lose his skills and knowledge as well as drive Wolf away from him. Seshru torments him in order to turn him into her pawn and find one of the two remaining Fire Opal shards. Renn and Bale come to Torak's aid, and Renn manages to heal Torak's soul-sickness. Torak discovers a terrible secret: Renn is the Viper Mage's daughter. Seshru had birthed Renn only to create a tokoroth of her own, but after that was thwarted, Seshru abandoned Renn and did not keep tabs on her. Torak also finds the Fire Opal shard his father hid inside the hilt of his knife before dying.

Eventually, the nearby glacier unleashes a flood in order to heal the lake. Torak warns the clans in the area, and they retreat to safety. The clansmen still want to kill Torak, though, but Seshru appears to demand the Fire Opal shard for herself. Torak smashes the shard just as Seshru tries to attack him and is shot by Bale. Her fading life-force is used to destroy the Fire Opal's power. With the Viper Mage gone, Torak is accepted back by the clans.

Meanwhile, it is hinted that Eostra and Thiazzi could be in the Deep Forest where the clans are having trouble among each other. Bale also recalls disturbances from the Seal Islands. This leads the heroes to deduce that the Soul Eaters are looking for the last Fire Opal shard, the one Tenris possessed before his death.

Oath Breaker

Nine months after the events of the fourth book, Thiazzi finds the last Fire Opal shard in the Seal Islands. He also murders Bale, leading Torak to swear revenge. The Oak Mage returns to the Forest and sets out towards the eastern Deep Forest. He is followed by Torak, Renn, Wolf and Fin-Kedinn, but Fin-Kedinn is injured along the way and forced to return to his clan.

In the Deep Forest, Thiazzi has murdered the mages of the Forest Horse Clan and the Auroch Clan. Taking both of the mages' places, he has tricked the Deep Forest clans to war with each other, with the exception of the pacifistic Red Deer Clan. As he evades Torak more than once, he manipulates all the Deep Forest clans to unite against the Open Forest clans after they barely survive a forest fire that is set loose by a mad Red Deer woman who is working for Thiazzi.

Thiazzi eventually kidnaps Renn and takes her to the sacred grove to use her as a bait. Torak finds his way there. During the final fight, Torak climbs up the Great Oak as Thiazzi chases after him. When they reach the highest branches, Renn throws for the weaponless Torak a burning brand of wood. The Oak Mage is protected from the fire by the Fire Opal, however. Suddenly, Eostra's eagle owl appears, snatches the Opal from Thiazzi and flies towards the eastern High Mountains. A small ember in Thiazzi's hair sets him on fire, causing him to lose his balance and fall to his death. With Thiazzi's manipulations exposed, the Deep Forest clans finally calm down, and a larger-scale war is prevented.

It is revealed that Thiazzi had kidnapped several children to turn them into tokoroths. All but one of those children are found and taken under treatment. The newborn tokoroth flees to the High Mountains where Eostra, the last Soul Eater and the most powerful of them, is hiding.

Ghost Hunter

Several months have passed again, and it is nearly winter. Eostra has made her lair in the Mountain of Ghosts. She has captured children and dogs from the Mountain clans and turned them into her underlings by binding demons inside them or brainwashing them. She plots to take Torak's power as a spirit walker and live forever by using it. She sends grey moths to spread shadow sickness across the clans and torments Torak with his father's spirit. As Torak sets out to find Eostra, the Eagle Owl Mage does everything in her power to ensure that the boy will be separated from his friends once they face each other. She sends her eagle owl to attack Wolf's family, making him think that his mate Darkfur and all their cubs are dead. She summons a powerful blizzard that nearly kills Renn and later reveals her intentions in Renn's dream.

By the time of Souls' Night, deep in the Mountain of Ghosts, Torak enters the Whispering Cave where Eostra is performing a ritual. Torak spirit walks in her, only to be trapped by her strong will. With her ritual, Eostra summons the spirits of the deceased Soul Eaters: Tenris, Thiazzi, Nef, Seshru, and Torak's father. They are all bound to the will of Eostra who possesses their hairs. Wolf, Renn and Dark — a young albino who has recently befriended Torak and Renn — arrive to kill Eostra's remaining tokoroths and dogs, allowing Torak's spirit to return to his body. Unexpectedly, the Walker, whom Torak and Renn have met twice in the past, and whom Fin-Kedinn has convinced to aid Torak against Eostra, arrives and reveals his former identity as Narrander. Torak destroys the Fire Opal, sending the spirits of the deceased Soul Eaters away. The Walker then summons the Hidden People of the Mountain to destroy Eostra. As the Mountain trembles, Eostra falls down a chasm, dragging Torak with her (though he is quickly resurrected with the help of Wolf).

With six of the seven Soul Eaters dead, the Walker appeased, and the Fire Opal completely destroyed, their threat against the Forest is finally over.

Viper's Daughter

Although most of the Soul Eaters were killed, it is revealed two years following Eostra's demise that shortly after the Great Fire, Seshru birthed a boy named Naiginn after mating with Tenris and made him a tokoroth by trapping an ice demon inside his body. She then put on him a masking spell that hides his demonic nature and made the Narwal Mage, Marupai believe that Naiginn was his son. Seshru promised Naiginn that she would set him free from the spell and let him feed on the souls of the living once he's grown up, but she was killed before she could fulfill that promise.

Fed up of the limitations caused by the masking spell, Naiginn seeks to destroy it, but realizes that this can only be done by a mage related to Seshru. Naiginn stages accidents that cause his half-sister, Renn to believe that she is subconsciously trying to hurt Torak, so she heads to the Far North in search of a solution, but Torak and Wolf follow her in pursuit. Along the way, she has dreams of Seshru with the implications that the spirit of the Viper Mage herself is contacting her daughter. Renn later meets Naiginn, and Torak and Wolf manage to find them, but Renn puts Torak to sleep and continues with Naiginn to the Edge of the World. They arrive at the Narwals' settlement at Waigo and Naiginn captures Renn as he takes her to the Island at the Edge of the World to force her to set him free. However, Renn outwits him with Torak and Wolf's help, and he is defeated as he is brutally attacked by a mammoth's spirit. After Torak, Renn and Wolf return to the Forest, Renn once more has a dream about Seshru, who questions if Naiginn is really dead and repeats her last lines in life that it's not over.

Skin Taker

Seshru's suspicions were confirmed when Naiginn is revealed to be still alive and he later found out that Seshru lied to him about his curse, as he discovered another way to break the spell by feeding on the brains of living creatures. To get revenge on Torak and Renn, Naiginn travels to the Forest and becomes the leader of a group called the Chosen Ones, who have abandoned their clans ever since a meteor known as the Thunderstar struck the Forest. Naiginn creates a myth of evil creatures called "Skin-Takers" and manipulates the Chosen Ones into thinking that Torak and Renn are Skin-Takers.

While Torak and Renn search for the four pieces needed to perform a Rite to bring back the First Tree, Torak is captured by the Chosen Ones and brought to Naiginn, who reveals that he made up the myth of the Skin-Takers to get his revenge on Torak. Renn is captured as well, but a member named Iakim reluctantly sets her free to do the Rite, despite Magecraft being forbidden. Renn and Wolf come across a herd of forest horses and they cause a stampede, which distracts the Chosen Ones, giving Torak the opportunity to escape.

When all four pieces are found, Renn and Dark prepare to do the Rite, but Naiginn attacks them in an attempt to stop them. However, Torak spirit walks in a bear and attacks Naiginn, allowing Renn and Dark to finish the Rite with the help of Wolf, which eventually brings back the First Tree. Naiginn flees the scene and his lies are exposes afterwards to the clans, which leads to the Chosen Ones abandoning their ways and reuniting with their original clans.

Wolfbane

It is early spring and three months have passed since the events of the eighth book. Naiginn returns to the Forest with the intent to devour Wolf's souls to free himself from his mortal body and uses a decoy to distract Torak and Renn. After Naiginn shoots Wolf's hunting partner named Whitethroat with a fatal poison called wolfbane, Wolf chases after him down a river as Whitethroat dies. Wolf gets lost in a fog and tries to head back, but finds himself stranded on an iceberg and is drifted out to the Sea.

Torak and Renn set out to the Sea in search for Wolf, and so does Naiginn. The chase leads them to Kelp Island after which the three heroes and Naiginn return to the Forest where a glacier blocks the Elk River. Torak heads off to face Naiginn alone while Renn and Wolf reunite with their families. Renn and Dark head off to capture Naiginn and spot him on the other side of the river and they notice Torak approaching him. The ice storm grows stronger in support of Naiginn and the ice demon manages to poison Torak with wolfbane. Wolf comes to Torak's aid and Naiginn tries to shoot at Wolf, but Torak throws him into the river to save him. When Fin-Kedinn approaches in a sled, Naiginn fatally wounds him. As Wolf comes out, Naiginn prepares to shoot Wolf, but Renn and Dark come out of hiding and Renn chants in preparation to banish Naiginn's demon souls. As Torak tries to shoot Naiginn, Wolf jumps in the way and takes the blow, mortally wounding him. Dark prepares to spear Naiginn, but Fin-Kedinn takes the spear from Dark and spears the demon instead before dying. Renn casts a special net onto Naiginn to prevent his souls from escaping from his dead body and they reach higher ground as the waves of the river sweep him away. Wolf dies from the arrowshot, but Torak resurrects him by spirit walking into his body and guiding his spirit back to it.

Shortly after Naiginn's corpse washes up on the shores of the Forest, Renn and Dark cremate his body and Dark scatters his ashes into the Sea. Dark requests the Sea Mother to ensure that the ice demon can never cause anymore harm to the clans and the Sea Mother accepts his offer in the form of a humpback whale. The ice demon is then banished to the Otherworld, ending Seshru and Tenris' legacy for good.

Members and their clans

  • Eostra (Eagle Owl)
  • Narrander / the Walker (Otter)
  • Nef (Bat)
  • Seshru (Viper, though she may not have been born to that clan)
  • Tenris (Seal)
  • Thiazzi (Oak)
  • Torak's father (Wolf)

Gallery

Trivia

  • The four Soul Eaters who do not redeem themselves (Eostra, Thiazzi, Seshru and Tenris) can be compared to the Horsemen of the Apocalypse because their personal attributes and schemes are symbolically similar to the Horsemen.
    • Tenris is the Horseman of Conquest (sometimes known as Pestilence). The sickness he created and spreads is the driving plot point of Spirit Walker. In addition to that, the demon bear he creates runs amok in the Forest and grows more powerful with each kill in Wolf Brother. If the bear had not been killed before the zenith of the Great Auroch's red eye, it would have become invincible. Tenris has also won the complete trust of the Seal Islands' clans over the years, making him their true authority figure.
    • Thiazzi, the strongest man of the Forest and the most violent Soul Eater, is the Horseman of War. He drives the Deep Forest clans to war among each other in Oath Breaker before he unites both sides and nearly leads them into an open war against the Open Forest clans.
    • Seshru is the Horseman of Famine. She causes a famine to the Otter Clan by making Lake Axehead sick with deformed and inedible fish in Outcast. She also stirs a metaphorical famine in Torak by making him lose his skills and knowledge through soul-sickness.
    • Eostra is the Horseman of Death due to being a corpse-like necromancer who has always been obsessed with the secrets of the dead.
  • The Soul Eaters are similar to the Death Eaters from the Harry Potter franchise. Both are feared groups of renegade practitioners of magic who were forced to go underground years before the adventures of the main protagonist begin. The members tattoo themselves with symbols that are associated with evil because of their bearers' legacy. They aspire to oppress everyone under their rule and are led by a dreadful sorcerer who wants to become immortal.

Navigation

            Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Villains

Soul Eaters
Eostra | Thiazzi | Seshru | Tenris | Nef

Demons
Demon Bear | Tokoroths (Naiginn)

Clan members
Hord | Aki | Chosen One | Realvi

Animals
Eostra's Eagle Owl | Eostra's Dogs

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