What sort of research about the world’s wildest places could you possibly do in the middle of the world’s biggest cities? In fact, you can do a lot of research without leaving town… in your library.
In addition to location and wolf research, I also did lots of library research. What weapons did Torak’s people use? What shelters did they build? For that I’ve studied archaeology. And to fill in the gaps, I’ve taken clues from the ways of life of more recent traditional people, including the Inuit and Native American peoples, the San of Africa, the Ainu of Japan, the Sami of Lapland, and certain central and south American tribes.
The more I studied, the more I realized that the term `hunter-gatherer’ can be misleading, evoking (at least for me) a picture of someone casually spotting a clump of berries and saying, `Oh, good, I think I’ll gather some of those’. In fact, hunter-gatherers had to be experts about their world. They had to know precisely when particular plants bore fruit or nuts; when the bark of different trees was at its best for making rope, and where such trees could be found, and so on. The more I learned, the more I understood how unbelievably skilled these people were. It’s as far from The Flintstones as you could possibly imagine!
But the world of the clans is about more than tracking prey and scraping hides. How did they think? What did they believe about life and death? Again, I’ve learnt from more modern hunter-gatherers. I’ve found that many similarities among them:-
- Because hunter-gatherers travel often, they don’t tend to value possessions as much as we do (you wouldn’t, would you, if you had to carry them around?).
- They often don’t have a concept of owning land.
- They value the qualities you need for hunting: patience, resilience, and the ability to listen (hence the idea of Torak being “the Listener”).
- Often they treat their spear or bow as a valued `hunting partner’, not just as an object (hence Renn and her bow). They treat their prey with respect, honouring its spirit, and taking care to use of every part of it.