Promise of the Wolves : A Novel

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 7/7/2009
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster

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WHAT IS THE PROMISE OF THE WOLF? NEVER CONSORT WITH HUMANS. NEVER KILL A HUMAN UNPROVOKED. NEVER ALLOW A MIXED-BLOOD WOLF TO LIVE.At least that's what the wolves of the Wide Valley believe. Until a young wolf dares to break the rules -- and forever alters the relationship between wolves and the humans who share their world.This is the story of such a wolf. Born of a forbidden mixed-blood litter and an outcast after her mother is banished, Kaala is determined to earn a place in the Swift River pack. But her world is turned upside down when she saves a human girl from drowning. Risking expulsion from their pack and exile from the Wide Valley, Kaala and her young packmates begin to hunt with the humans and thus discover the long-hidden bond between the two clans. But when war between wolves and humans threatens, Kaala learns the lies behind the wolf 's promise. Lies that force her to choose between safety for herself and her friends and the survival of her pack -- and perhaps of all wolf- and humankind.Set 14,000 years ago,Promise of the Wolvestakes us to a land where time is counted in phases of the moon, distance is measured in wolflengths, and direction by the scent of the nearest trail. Years of research into the world of wolves combines with mythical tale-telling to present a fantastical adventure set in a world filled with lore.

Author Biography

Dorothy Hearst was a senior editor at Jossey-Bass and now serves on the advisory board of Children’s Environmental Publishing. She has spent extensive time observing wolves in the wild at Yellowstone, toured ancient cave paintings at Les Eyzies and in the Dordogne Valley, and interviewed many of the world’s top wolf and dog experts.



14,000 years ago

The legends say that when the blood of the Wide Valley wolves mingles with the blood of the wolves outside the valley, the wolf who bears that blood will stand forever between two worlds. It is said that such a wolf holds the power to destroy not only her pack, but all of wolfkind. That's the real reason Ruuqo came to kill my brother, my sisters, and me in the faint light of the early morning four weeks after we were born.

Wolves hate killing pups. It's considered unnatural and repulsive, and most wolves would rather chew off their own paws than hurt a pup. But my mother never should have whelped us. She was not a senior wolf, and therefore had no right to have pups. But that could have been forgiven. Much worse than that, she had broken one of the most important rules of the Wide Valley, the rules that protect our bloodlines. Ruuqo was only doing his duty.

He had already given Rissa a bellyful of pups, as was proper for the senior male and female of the pack. Unless given permission by the leaderwolves, no other wolf may mate, for extra pups can be difficult to feed unless it is a very good year. The year I was born was a time of conflict in our valley, and prey was growing scarce. We shared the Wide Valley with four other packs of wolves and with several tribes of humans. While most of the other wolves respected the boundaries of our territories, the humans did not -- they drove us from our own kills whenever they got the chance. So the Swift River pack did not have food to spare the season I was born. Even so, I don't think my mother truly believed that Ruuqo would hurt us. She must have hoped he wouldn't notice our Outsider blood, that he wouldn't smell it on us.

Just before dawn two days before Ruuqo came to end our lives, my brother, Triell, and I climbed eagerly up the incline of soft, cool dirt that led from our den to the world outside. Dim light filtered into the deep hollow of the den, and yips and growls from the wolves outside echoed off the walls of our home. The scents and sounds of the world above intrigued us, and anytime we weren't eating or sleeping, we were trying to sneak outside.

"Wait," our mother had told us, blocking our way, "there are things you must know first."

"We just want to see what's out there," Triell wheedled. I caught the mischievous glint in his eye, and we tried to dash past her.

"Listen." Our mother placed a large paw over us, pressing us to the ground. "Every pup must pass inspection to be allowed into the pack. If you do not pass, you do not live. You must listen to what I teach you." Her voice, usually soft and comforting, held a worried tone I'd never heard before. "When you meet Ruuqo and Rissa, the leaderwolves, you must show them you are healthy and strong. You must prove that you are worthy to be part of the Swift River pack. And you must show them respect and honor." She released us, gave us one more worried look, and bent to wash my sisters, who had followed us up to the mouth of the den. Triell and I retreated to a corner of the warm den to plan what we would do to become part of the pack. I don't think it occurred to me that we could fail.

Copyright © 2008 by Dorothy Hearst

Excerpted from Promise of the Wolves: A Novel by Dorothy Hearst
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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