Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Torak’s World

  1. Each clan believes that it is descended from its clan-creature. This is why, in OUTCAST, when Renn thanks the ravens Rip and Rek for helping Torak, she addresses them as “little grandfathers”.  (At this point, of course, Renn doesn’t yet know that Rek is female.)
  2. Wolf loves lingonberries because his creator does. Lingonberries are sweet red berries that grow on low bushes in Scandinavian forests.  They look a bit like cranberries, but taste a lot nicer, and I love them.  And since wolves generally like all sorts of berries, so it’s natural, too, that Wolf should like lingonberries.
  3. When Renn induces a trance by rubbing two stone together in OUTCAST, she’s using a method which has actually been used in the past – for instance, by Inuit shamans (“angakkoq”), who used “smoothing-stones” for this purpose.  Some smoothing-stones still exist, and are many generations old.
  4. The idea for Torak’s medicine horn came from a small black medicine horn which my aunt sent me from South Africa when I was ten.  It lives on my desk, and I sketched it for the artist Geoff Taylor, who then drew the picture of it for the beginning of Chapter 38 of OATH BREAKER.
  5. Tokoroths are not made up.  I based the idea on certain African beliefs and customs about monsters created from children brought up alone and in darkness.  In the country where I was born, Malawi, they are called “tokoloshe”.
  6. The clans believe that tree-blood is golden because it’s where fire lives.
  7. Thiazzi the Oak Mage let his hair grow long because he believed that it held part of his strength.  In the past, shamans and witch-doctors have also held this belief, to prevent their power from draining away.  Thiazzi’s belief ultimately proves his undoing.
  8. The Hidden People are based on an Icelandic belief in people who inhabit rocks and boulders: a belief, moreover, which is still held by some people today.
  9. There is not, and never was, a Bear Clan.  This is because the bear is the strongest creature in the Forest, and it would have given a clan too great an advantage over the others to be descended from such a creature, so the World Spirit forbade it.
  10. The clans believe that the strongest shape of all is a circle.  This is because the Moon and Sun are round, and the wind whirls, the Sea ebbs and flows, the seasons follow each other in a circle, and so does the cycle of life and death.  This is why many amulets are spiral, and Death Marks, too, are circles.


Note… These are the names most widely used among the clans; but some clans also have their own names for moons of particular importance to them, eg the Sea Clans’ name for April is the Moon of the Cod Run.


March – Moon of Roaring Rivers

April – Birchblood Moon

May – Moon of the Salmon Run


June – Moon of No Dark

July – Cloudberry Moon

August – Moon of Green Ashseed


September – Moon of Roaring Stags

October – Blackthorn Moon


November – Moon of Red Willow

December – Moon of Long Dark

January – Sun-wake Moon

February – Willow Grouse Moon