Ziyaad writes…

Dear Michelle Paver,

My name is Ziyaad and I started reading Wolf Brother when I was around 12 years old (incidentally the same age as Torak). I recalled it fondly and always held it in high esteem amongst other childhood stories that I loved.

Around 2020, the pandemic had begun. It was an incredibly difficult time for everyone. I started my second year of university in September. On account of living close by, I decided to take the train for the few classes that remained in person. And each time I walked past a massive poster of Viper’s daughter. A part of me wondered what had become of my old friends Torak and Renn in the last 8/9 years. However, I put it to the back of my head as we went into December lockdown.

This year I finished my third year of medicine. I decided to take a year out to pursue global health before continuing with the last two years of my degree. It still leaves me feeling abit lost, thinking there’s a need to start in a new city with new people. Yet, ultimately this decision was for me to have some more time to myself. I started reflecting on how our modern day stories don’t have happy endings and my mind thought back to that poster I walked past on my train journeys. I purchased all 3 books. And wow.

I slipped back effortlessly into a world my heart had never left. The noise in my mind was softened by the quiet snowfalls. My feeling of being alone was lessened when I saw the fierce bonds of loyalty Torak, Renn and Wolf share. All of these universal themes of loyalty and love were infused in characters that had grown up with me. I felt incredibly emotional to see how events unravelled. For example, the arc of Torak losing then finding himself again. His intention was to protect those he loved but he needed Renn to ground him.

It’s not often one gets to grow up with a character, but it has been an absolute pleasure. These books returned to me at a difficult time when I needed to be reminded of what was the right way of looking at things.

So all I can humbly offer is a thank you. Perhaps you will read this and perhaps not. However, my message comes from the heart. These characters never left and returned to guide myself (and many others) through the difficulties of the pandemic and the trials of entering adulthood. If Torak, Renn and Wolf can withstand Naiginn, I can withstand life’s challenges.

I don’t know if you’ll ever return to these stories. I do hope so (perhaps vainly to see Torak and Renn have a family and grow up more). However, I’m glad you returned when the world was in a dire need of being reminded what good overcoming evil looked like.

Thank you very much for your writing. I remain a humble fan.

Yours faithfully,
Ziyaad Surtee

Michelle Replies…

Dear Ziyaad,

What a marvellous, evocative message .  Thank you for taking the trouble  to decribe what you have gone through over the past few years.  I can understand your need to take a year out from medical school before continuing with your degree.  It’s a courageous thing to do; but time to reflect is invaluable, and I don’t think you’ll regret it.

I can’t tell you how glad I am that my books have helped you at a difficult time in your life.  Someone once said that “We read to feel that we’re not alone”.  I think that’s true for many of us.  I’m delighted that you found it steadying to return to your old friends Torak, Renn and Wolf.  You put it so beautifully, when you said that the noise in your mind was “softened by the quiet snowfalls”.  That will stay with me.  Indeed,  I had to smile when you wrote: “Perhaps you will read this and perhaps not”.  Ziyaad, I’ve read it, printed it, and will keep it.  (We writers also have our dark times, and messages like yours are a great help!)

Again, thank you so much for getting in touch.  I’d like to wish you all possible good luck with your medical studies – and with whatever else you choose to do with your life.

Best wishes, Michelle