|Author: Michelle Paver|
|Illustrator: Geoff Taylor|
|Country: United Kingdom|
|Publisher: Orion Children's Books|
|Published Date: 2008|
|Pages: 319 pp (first edition, hardback)|
|Preceded by: Oath Breaker|
|Followed by: None|
'Her cry rips the souls from your marrow. With her spear she snares them. She devours them. Eostra truly is an eater of souls.'
Winter is coming. Souls' Night draws near. Eostra the Eagle Owl Mage holds the clans in the grip of terror.
Torak must leave the Forest and seek her lair in the Mountain of Ghosts, while Renn faces an agonizing decision. Wolf, their faithful pack-brother, must overcome wrenching grief. And in the final battle against the forces of darkness, Torak will face the most shattering choice of all.
WARNING: Spoilers ahead
The story begins with Torak having a nightmare. In it he is walking through a desecrated Raven Camp, he sees objects of those closest to him in tatters (Renn's bow for instance has been trodden into the mud) and all of them are covered in dirty snow. He swats away moths though they just return to feed regardless. He approaches a shelter but dares not to enter, already knowing what the dark shapes inside are. He then wakes up to find grey moths in the Raven Camp. As he thinks about the whereabouts of Eostra the Eagle Owl Mage, he falls asleep by the fire and reawakes when someone calls his name. He follows the voice and manages to see a figure disappear in the mist nearby the remains of a fire, which Torak knows only he and someone else knew how to make that star pattern of logs. He then finds an arrow that he too recognizes , which prompts Torak to call out "Is that you?.... Fa?"
Torak returns and discusses this with Fin-Kedinn, who appears sceptic at first. Torak begins to remember the attack of the demon-bear three years ago and says that his father's soul is not in peace. The Raven Leader then tells him that Eostra wants him to believe that. Torak wants to leave the Raven Clan to find the Soul Eater but Fin-Kedinn tells him not to do so, as the clans haven't united and Torak could be walking into a trap. Despite the Leader's pleas, Torak tells him that he can't wait any longer and to tell Renn he's sorry that she can't come, then heads towards the High Mountains to seek her lair. During this trip, he takes a detour to the Wolf Den to say a final farewell to Wolf, Darkfur and the cubs (Pebble and Shadow). While Wolf is happy to see Torak again, he does notice sadness in him, which Torak denies quickly. After this he sets off.
Meanwhile, Renn is at the Boar Clan looking after those with shadow sickness. Aki, the Boar Clan Leader's son, is one affected by it, driven into madness about demons. The Boar Mage convinces Renn she has done enough and tells her to go back to her clan. After a journey which was encountered a picture of a mountain hacked in a tree by a tokoroth, Renn returns to find two hunters sick and Torak gone. She finds Saeunn to ask why didn't she stop him. She then tells her that he is seeking the Mountain of Ghosts to find Eostra. Saeunn then tells Renn that she can't leave the clan as she is dying and no one left to look after the clan after her. Renn again says she won't be the Mage when Saeunn scolds her that even if Torak does survive the wrath of Eostra, he will leave the Ravens as he is a wanderer in his bone. She then tells a prophecy in front of Renn of Torak, stating that he will die. The next day she meets Fin-Kedinn only to find out that the clan will move near the Deep Forest as they will be safe with the other clans. But then he says that he must go somewhere else while Thull leads the Ravens. She asks why but he cannot tell, as he swore on his souls that he would tell no one. Renn then sets off to find Torak.
As Torak moves across the Horseleap he encounters an Eagle Owl fly the opposite direction. He then realises that the owl is flying towards the cubs home. He then runs back to find the den under attack by the Eagle Owl, with Shadow already dead. With the assistance of Rip and Rek, Wolf rushes back and attempts to kill the owl while Darkfur falls of a cliff face. Pebble is then kidnapped by the owl and Wolf and the ravens are in pursuit, but Wolf fails in catching it. Torak lays Shadow's body to rest on ferns and set up camp. The next day, Torak sets off, then finds his fathers arrow again pointing towards the High Mountains, towards Eostra. He decides against this and continues to find Wolf who is in grief.
Meanwhile, Fin-Kedinn was at the Rushwater where he encounters a Viper clan hunting party. Soon, Fin-Kedinn realises a dangerous ice storm is coming and tells a boy to run back to his clan and warn everyone.
Later, Renn is tracking Torak by the Horseleap when she also feels the cold change. She is forced to build a shelter when soon afterwards, Rek awkwardly landed on it, with her wings clogged of ice. Renn decides to find Torak in the storm, but after encountering a tokoroth, a holly tree falls on her leg, making it impossible to move. Elsewhere, Torak is founded by Rip, who squacks to follow him, but back the way he came. Torak does so and finds a shelter that he establishes to be Renn's. He rushes out and finds her underneath the tree unconscious. When she wakes, they discuss the eagle owl attack and Eostra's layer in the Mountain of Ghosts, a sacred place for all Mountain Clans. The next day they set off, when they find a seal amulet worn by Torak's father, making him feeling guilty about not finding him. Renn tells him otherwise and persuades him to find Wolf who could be still alive. They found the Redwater Valley where Torak's father was killed and they found Wolf under a boulder, barely alive. They set up camp and tend to Wolf's injuries. During the night Torak sleepwalked in a trap of a tokoroth, but Wolf saves him just in time, realising that Torak and Renn need him.
Non-professional reception varies greatly. Some agree that this is a strong addition and a satisfying finish-up to the series; others claim that it is the weakest book and a poor finish. Although the writing is great, it's true that it is lacking in the length and depth the other stories have. The characters fall a little bit flatter, Renn in particular, and the storyline seems a bit more rushed. As a result, it still makes for a good read but may not be as enjoyable.