‘The wolf Meshiska gave birth to five cubs on the night before full moon. Outside the den a storm was lashing the spruce trees. The sky and the land had become part of each other: a scatterwind night swirling with fragments of black and white. Snow became darkness and darkness snow, and any creature lost between the two found a rock or a tree and lay down beside it, to wait until the world had formed again.’
Into this bleak landscape, Athaba is born, a young wolf destined for great adventure. Exiled from his pack for breaking its rigid codes of behaviour and showing too much imagination, Athaba becomes a ‘raven wolf’, a lonely scavenger living on scraps and his wits.
Survival in the icy wastes is hard and dangerous without the comfort and protection of the pack. Injured, and stranded far from home, Athaba is forced to strike up an uneasy alliance with his natural enemy: a man. Together, but ever wary of each other, the wolf and the solitary hunter start their long walk home across the wilderness.
It soon becomes clear that the man must learn to be a wolf if he is to survive in the wolf’s world. And Athaba has to use all his imagination to learn new skills and strategies to fend for himself and his new pack member: for he discovers that men are frail, and often very ignorant!