Learn from this, Torak. Never try to lock wills with a Mage. Especially not with me.
~ Tenris warning Torak not to trifle with him

Tenris is a Soul Eater and one the main antagonists of Michelle Paver's Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series (which takes place 6000 years ago in prehistoric Europe during the Stone Age). He is the Seal Mage, serving as the main antagonist of Spirit Walker.Stop hand


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Before Spirit Walker

Tenris was born roughly 38 years before the beginning of Wolf Brother to a man belonging to the Wolf Clan and a woman belonging to the Seal Clan and was christened as a Seal Clan member. He had a brother younger by two years who was christened as a Wolf Clan member. When Tenris was eleven and his brother was nine, they met the 11-year-old Fin-Kedinn, the future Raven Clan chief. The trio lived for five months as the Wolf Clan's fosters. While Fin-Kedinn was interested about hunting, both of the brothers lived for Magecraft. They still remained as good friends for six years.

During the seventh year, while Tenris' brother was nominated as the Wolf Clan's mage, Tenris himself didn't become his clan's mage. No-one realized how bitter the setback was before he left to wander. Where he wandered is left unknown, but when the Healers were formed years later, he joined them despite not being a clan mage. When his brother eventually ignited the Great Fire and shattered the Soul Eaters' power, Tenris received third-degree burns over his body's left side. He also came into possession of one of the three Fire Opal shards.

After the Soul Eaters scattered and went into hiding for the following thirteen years, Tenris returned to the Seal Islands, his clan's home area. He became officially the new Seal Mage, probably having something to do with his predecessor's replacement. Under his influence, the Seal Clan became more isolated and unwilling to have dealings with the Forest. He also found out that his brother and his mate had survived and planned to have his revenge.

Two years before Wolf Brother, Tenris started experimenting on a sickness that makes the victim's souls drift apart and their mind to become mad until they die. He wasn't sure how he would use his invention, only that he needed a weapon. He let four Seals to succumb to his invention, including Bale's little brother and chief Islinn's son. Then he draw the sickness away, claiming to have found a cure.

Shortly before the start of Wolf Brother, Tenris decided to have his revenge. Posing as a crippled wanderer from the Willow Clan, he visited the Red Deer Clan. He made acquaintance with their foster Hord (Fin-Kedinn's nephew and Renn's brother), tricking him to catch him a bear cub. Using the Fire Opal, Tenris summoned an elemental (the strongest type of demons) and bound it in the bear's body. The newly created demon bear went rampage across the Forest and Tenris fled. Tenris' monstrous creation found Tenris' brother eventually and killed him, just as Tenris had planned. Torak, son of Tenris' brother and Tenris' nephew, eventually managed to destroy the bear with the help of Wolf, Renn and Fin-Kedinn. Hearing about the bear's demise, Tenris became determined to locate its killer.

Spirit Walker

In summertime, six months following the ending of Wolf Brother, Tenris sends his two tokoroths to poison the Forest's juniper berries to spread the sickness he had created. Torak leaves the Raven Clan to find a cure. He ends up at the seashore and unintentionally offends Bale, Detlan and Asrif by mixing his Forest-made hunting gear with the Sea. They take him to the Seal Islands in the west to have him punished.

Tenris meets Torak and gets a confirmation of his identity when he recognizes his brother's ceremonial knife passed to his son. Torak informs the Seals about the plague and convinces them to help him in finding the cure, sparing himself from receiving the severe punishment for offending Mother Sea. He seemingly succeeds in this by negotiating with Tenris who adopts a kindly facade and gains Torak's trust.

Tenris lies that the cure to the plague can be created only during the nearing Midsummer Night (which happens to be Torak's birth time) and sends Torak with the Seal boys who captured him to acquire a supposed ingredient: a root of a plant growing in the Eagle Beaks. Meanwhile, he hunts down an young orca whale, kills it (which is forbidden by the Sea Clans' laws) and takes its teeth for his spells, leaving the rest of the body to rot (another unforgivable deed). This causes the whale's mother to cause havoc across the Seal Islands' waters in its search for its offspring's killer.

After the root has been picked up (with Detlan crippled along the way), Torak tells Tenris about his lately spirit walking experiences he doesn't recognize. Astonished, Tenris realizes their meaning and explains them to Torak. While Tenris sounds excited about the power Torak has, the boy cannot accept himself to be different.

With mere hours to the Midsummer Night and most of the Seal Clan having went to celebrate it to the Cormorant Clan, Tenris and Bale arrive to the empty Seal Clan's camp after a storm separates them from Torak. They encounter Renn who has remained hidden in their island for days. Realizing that Renn has figured out his true nature, Tenris manipulates Bale and later Torak as well to think that she's been infected by the plague. He puts Bale to guard her and sends her soup with poisoned juniper berries, while he goes with Torak toward the altar residing on a cliff over the Sea called the Crag. A tokoroth knocks Torak out.

Torak wakes up finding himself tied up to the altar, with the tokoroths building a fire barricade to seal the Crag off the island. Tenris appears with his Soul Eater tattoo bare and reveals all his secrets to the disbelieving boy — the plague, the unexisting cure, the killed orca whale, the demon bear and his relation to Torak. Tenris intends to eat Torak's heart to gain his spirit walker powers and become the most powerful mage to have ever existed.

As Tenris prepares for the incoming ritual, Wolf — who has just prevented Renn from gaining the sickness by knocking the poisoned soup over — arrives and leads the tokoroths following him to their deaths. While the fire wall prevents anyone from entering the Crag, Renn and Bale — who has finally realized the truth — canoe to the Sea from where Renn shoots an arrow at Tenris' arm. As the Soul Eater recovers from the arrow, the tied up Torak stands up and jumps over the cliff to let himself drown. Tenris dives after him and begins taking him back to the shore. Torak manages to grab with his teeth Tenris' amulet that prevents orca whales from finding him and spit it to the Sea. The vengeful orca whale arrives, recognizes its offspring's killer and drags Tenris underwater to his death, leaving Torak alone. However, before Tenris is dragged underwater, he tells Torak to demand the truth about his father's former membership to the Soul Eaters from Fin-Kedinn.

Ask Fin-Kedinn about your father! Make him tell you the truth -
~ Tenris' last words


With Tenris and his tokoroths gone, the Seal Clan reopens its connections to the Forest. Renn realizes the plague's cause, and the plague passes with the disposed juniper berries. Torak gets the confirmation from Fin-Kedinn about his father and Tenris' past.

Before his death, Tenris sends a message to Seshru, saying that "The Wolf lives", though the remaining Soul Eaters are unsure of the message's meaning until they face Torak in Soul Eater. The Fire Opal Tenris possessed remains hidden under the Crag's altar until Thiazzi finds it there in the beginning of Oath Breaker.

Tenris' soul appears briefly in Ghost Hunter, summoned by Eostra and under her control through his hair the Eagle Owl Mage possesses. He vanishes when the spell is broken.


Tenris is described to be handsome in a jagged way. He has a straight nose, a wide mouth with deep laughter lines, a thick sand-colored hair and a dark gold beard cut close to his firm jaw. He is tall and muscular with a tanned skin, long fingers and grey eyes. The Great Fire has left terrible three-degree burns across his body's left side, at least above the belt. His left arm is twisted as a hook. His left eye is lashless, and his head's skin is spotted pink. Only his mouth is unburned.

Like with other Seal men, Tenris' clan tattoos are blue weaving sea-weeds made across his arms. Like with the other Soul Eaters, he has a three-pronged black fork tattooed on his chest. His everyday clothing doesn't differ from the rest of his clan (trousers and a sleeveless skirt made of grey seal skin), except that he wears an elaborate two-hand-wide leather belt that's cornered by puffin beaks. He wears a scrunched red wreath hanging in a leather string as an amulet that keeps his presence hidden from orca whales. He sometimes smokes a pipe made of a crab-claw. When Tenris prepares the ritual to gain Torak's power, he wears a gray mask (that is used during one's mourning period) and chews stinking paste that colors his tongue black and eye whites yellow.

Tenris' voice is one of his more striking features. It's even and low, yet it has an overtone reminding of power similar to the Sea. It's a voice everyone wants to hear and helps Tenris is his manipulations.


Since his youth, Tenris has been proud and craved power and control before anything else. This contrasted his younger brother who was eager to learn the ways of trees, prey and hunters. The fact that he didn't become the Seal Clan's mage while his brother became the Wolf Clan's mage was embittering to him so much that he isolated himself from others. He reveals all his bitterness after showing Torak his true colors.

Tenris could be very convincing as he became a member of the Healers despite not being a clan mage. For years he kept his clan in his charismatic grip, isolating them from outside influences and having the power despite not being the chief. His facade of a wandering cripple from the Willow Clan was so convincing that the Red Deer Clan (that tends to have the best mages) didn't discover his identity as a Soul Eater before it was too late. He had his entire clan's trust, including the old and experienced chief Islinn. He wins Torak's trust with his facade that reminds the boy of a more friendly and less distant Fin-Kedinn. He even manages to convince the sharp-witted Renn for a little while of his benevolence.

His hunger for power was so great that he cared nothing for the lives of others and secretly broke clan laws. He broke an ancient pact by creating a creature that kills needlessly. He killed a young orca whale without proper respect and created two tokoroths out of two children, treating them cruelly as underlings. He allowed four clansmen (of whom at least one was a child) to die so that he could see the effects of his newly-created sickness, when he didn't even have a clear purpose for it at the time. He even tries to kill his own nephew to gain his spirit walker powers, considering it a waste for Torak to be gifted with such power. He wants to become the most powerful mage to have ever existed by becoming a spirit walker, more powerful than his fellow Soul Eaters who consider his demon bear to be a mad creation.

When Eostra summons Tenris' spirit in Ghost Hunter, she describes him as "sleek as the seal, the cunning one".

Powers and abilities

Tenris is a talented mage, well-versed in the customs and ways of the Sea. He also knows the ways of the Forest better than the other Seals in Spirit Walker, thanks to having partially grown up there. This helped him with his alias as a crippled wanderer from the Willow Clan.

Tenris is physically strong, overpowering Torak easily, and he swims more slickly than an eel. Like other Seals, he is an expert paddler and harpoon user. He claims that he can't climb because of his lungs receiving burns from the Great Fire. How much this actually hinders him is up to debate.

According to Tenris, there isn't much what he wouldn't know about poisons. He used this knowledge to create a sickness that tears the victim's souls apart, driving them to madness and eventual death. It's spread by poisoned juniper berries.

His special ability as a Soul Eater is said to be his interest in controlling demons. He indeed used the Fire Opal to create two tokoroths and the demon bear by trapping an elemental (the strongest type of demons) inside a bear's body, though he couldn't control his creation. He also created an amulet that conceals him from orca whales as long as he possesses it.


  • Tenris' puffin beak belt is a reference to Paver's research about ancient cultures. Shamans or witch doctors have worn ceremonial belts that would help them in reaching the spirit world, healing the sick and foretelling the prey's movements and weather. Among the Inuits, an angakkuq would wear a belt that could be adorned with talismans, like beaks and bones.