Promise of the Wolves (Wolf Chronicles Series #1)

Promise of the Wolves (Wolf Chronicles Series #1)

by Dorothy Hearst


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The first in The Wolf Chronicles trilogy, brilliantly weaving together original research, lovable characters and a dynamic, thoroughly engaging plot, Promise of the Wolves is a historical adventure story in the tradition of Clan of the Cave Bear and Watership Down.

Set 14,000 years ago in what is now Southern Europe, Promise of the Wolves is told from the point of view of Kaala, a young wolf born of a forbidden, mixed-blood litter. An outcast after her mother is exiled, Kaala struggles to earn her place in her pack. But her world is turned upside down when she rescues a human girl from drowning. Kaala and her young packmates begin hunting and playing with humans—risking expulsion from their pack and banishment from their home in the Wide Valley.

When war between humans and wolves threatens, Kaala learns that she is the last in a long line of wolves charged with keeping watch over humans in order to prevent them from losing touch with nature and thus destroying the world. But to do so she must solve the great paradox of wolfkind: though wolves must always be with humans, humans cannot abide the presence of wolves, and every time the two come together, war ensues. Kaala must choose between safety for herself, her friends, and their human companions and the survival of her pack—and perhaps all of wolf and humankind.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416569992
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 07/07/2009
Series: Wolf Chronicles Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 481,959
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Dorothy Hearst is the author of the Wolf Chronicles trilogy. She loves writing about canine characters, birds, and other creatures who can give us the chance to see ourselves in new ways. She is an acquiring editor, a martial artist, a self-defense instructor-in-training, an avid hiker and reader, and a dog lover. She is not entirely domesticated, but is very food motivated.

Read an Excerpt


40,000 YEARS AGO

It got cold. It got so cold, the legends say, that rabbits hid underground for months at a time, the elk took to living in caves, and birds fell from the sky as their wings froze in midflight. It got so cold that the air crystallized in front of the Wide Valley wolves as they hunted. Each breath seared their lungs and even their thick undercoats did not protect them. Wolves are made for winter, but this was a winter beyond all wolves. The sun stayed always on the far side of the Earth, and the moon, which before had been a vibrant beacon, chilled to black dimness.

The raven king said it was the winter to end the world. That it would last three full years and that it was sent to punish those who ignored the will of the Ancients. All Lydda knew was that she was hungry, and that her pack could not hunt.

Lydda wandered away from her family, not bothering to sniff for whatever voles or hares she might find along the way. Tachiim, her leaderwolf, had told the pack that the hunt was off, that the elk that ran the Wide Valley were too scarce, and the pack too weak to catch the few that remained. Now they merely waited for the colder chill of death to replace the chill in the air. Lydda would not wait. She had walked away from her packmates, and especially away from the pups with their bones clearly visible through their fur and their hungry eyes. It was the duty of every wolf in the pack — even a youngwolf like Lydda — to provide for the pups, and if Lydda could not do so, she was not worthy to be called wolf.

Even the light outer layer of her fur weighed her down as she forced her way through the deep drifts of snow. Ravens flew above her head, and she longed for wings to carry her to the hunting plain. Lydda was looking for the largest, fiercest elk she could find, and she would challenge it, fighting it to the death. Weak as she was, she knew it would be her death.

Lydda reached the crest of the snow-covered hill that overlooked the hunting plain and dropped to her belly, breathing hard. Suddenly she stood, her pale brown fur bristling. She smelled a human, and she knew that she must keep her distance, for it was forbidden by ancient laws for wolves and humans to come together. Then she had to laugh at herself. What did she have to fear? It was death she was seeking. Maybe the human would help her on her way.

She was disappointed when she found him, his back against a rock, weeping. He was, like she, barely grown. He looked about as threatening as a fox pup. He was thin and hungry like the rest of the creatures in the valley, and the long, deadly stick his people carried lay harmlessly at his side. The human raised his eyes as she came near and Lydda saw fear, then acceptance, then welcome come to them.

"Have you come for me, wolf?" he asked. "Take me, then. I cannot bring food to my hungry brothers and sisters for I am too weak to hunt the fleet elk. I cannot return empty-handed to my family yet again. Take me."

Lydda looked into the human's eyes and saw her own despair reflected in them. He wanted to feed his people's pups just as she did. The warmth of his flesh drew her and she found herself stepping slowly to him. He threw his sharpened stick far from his side and opened his arms, baring his neck and his belly to Lydda so that, if she wanted to, she could easily tear the life from him. Instead, she stood perfectly still, watching the human. She had not looked long at a human before. She had been warned against doing so.

"Any wolf consorting with humans will be exiled from the pack," Tachiim had said when she and her littermates were pups. "They are equal to us as hunters and see us as prey. You will be drawn to them by a force as powerful as the hunt. Stay away or you are wolf no longer."

Lydda looked at the young human and she felt the pull Tachiim had mentioned, as she would feel the pull of one of the pups in the pack, or of a wolf who could be her mate. Confusion shook her as she might shake a rabbit she had caught. Her mind warned her to run away, but her heart felt as if it would leave her chest to get to him. She imagined herself lying beside him, chasing the cold from her bones. She shook herself, and stepped back, but found she could not break the hold of his eyes. A cold gust of wind pushed her from behind and she took one step toward the boy. He had dropped his arms, but raised them again, tentatively.

She stepped into his open arms, and stretched her body across his legs, placing her furred head against his chest. The boy wore many layers of prey skin in an attempt to keep the cold away from his lightly furred body, but still she felt the warmth of him. After a moment of surprise he closed his arms around her. She did not let her gaze leave his face.

For a thousand heartbeats they lay together, the wolf's heart slowing to match the boy's and the boy's quickening to match the wolf's. Lydda felt the strength rising within her, and the human boy must have felt it as well, for they both rose as if one and turned to the hunting fields.

Together they crossed the plain toward the prey and, without speaking, selected a buck. The elk shook his head nervously when they came near, revealing his vulnerability. Moving like the sunlight, Lydda ran behind the elk, fatigue lifting from her legs. She ran the elk and ran him, confusing and tiring him. Then, in a burst of speed, she drove him toward the waiting boy. The boy's sharpened stick flew, sinking deep into the elk's chest and, as the beast stumbled, Lydda tore the life from his belly.

As Lydda ripped into the flesh of the elk, dizzy from the smell and taste of food at last, something heavy knocked her aside. The boy had shoved in to take his share. Growling, she reasserted her place and the two of them ripped at the carcass. Before she was too full to move, Lydda remembered her duty, and began to tear at the beast's haunch to bring some of it home to her hungry family. By the time she had worked it loose, the human had cut through the other haunch with a sharp stone and was tearing away at more of the prey. She took the heavy leg in her mouth, glad she was not far from home. Given strength by the new meat in her belly, she set off for her pack.

She was so caught up in her full belly and the taste of good, fresh meat, that she forgot for a moment about the human. But she turned as she reached the edge of the forest and looked to him. He had stopped as well, the heavy leg of the elk slung over his thin shoulders and an elk rib dragging from one hand. He raised his other arm to her. She dropped the haunch, and dipped her head in acknowledgment.

Her packmates smelled the good meat even before she reached the sheltered clearing. When Lydda approached them, the adult wolves looked in disbelief at the meat she carried. Gently, she set it down.

It was little meat for so many wolves, but it was meat, and that meant hope. It was the first real meal the pack had eaten in well over half a moon. Once the pack realized the meat was real and not a death dream, they crowded around Lydda, forgetting their weakness in their joyful greeting. Lydda stepped aside, bowing to Tachiim, offering him the meat. He touched her gently with his nose and signaled to the pack to share the meat. Then, along with the other wolves still fit enough to run, he set off along Lydda's trail to find her kill.

Lydda turned to the pups, who were mewling at the smell of the fresh meat. She bent her head down to them and, as one weakly nudged the corner of her mouth, regurgitated her food for them. Though her starved body craved the meat that she gave up for the pups, their joy in feeding was worth it. The pups of the Wide Valley pack would not starve again.

Lydda leapt after Tachiim and the others to share in what was left of the kill. So excited was she by her successful hunt, so pleased to provide for her pack, and so giddy from her encounter with the human boy, that she did not notice the new and growing trickle of warmth in the air, so slight it could be mistaken for a dream.

Lydda and her boy rested against the rock where they had met, in a patch of warm dirt newly revealed by the melting of the snow. For one full cycle of the moon, the wolves of Lydda's pack had hunted with the humans. For one cycle of the moon they shared the humans' meat and played with their young, and ran with them in the light of the dusk and of the dawn. Lydda spent every moment she could with her human, for in him she felt as if she had found something she did not know she had lost.

They sat together against their rock, and Lydda curled herself against the boy's strong legs as he ran his fingers through her fur. Sun shone upon them and Earth reached up blades of grass to greet them. Moon waited jealously for her turn to see them again. And Sky — Sky spread all around them, watching.

For the Ancients had been waiting. Waiting and hoping. They did not really want to end the lives of creatures.

Copyright © 2008 by Dorothy Hearst


14,000 years ago

The legends say that when the blood of the Wide Valley wolves mingles with the blood of the wolves outside the valley, the wolf who bears that blood will stand forever between two worlds. It is said that such a wolf holds the power to destroy not only her pack, but all of wolfkind. That's the real reason Ruuqo came to kill my brother, my sisters, and me in the faint light of the early morning four weeks after we were born.

Wolves hate killing pups. It's considered unnatural and repulsive, and most wolves would rather chew off their own paws than hurt a pup. But my mother never should have whelped us. She was not a senior wolf, and therefore had no right to have pups. But that could have been forgiven. Much worse than that, she had broken one of the most important rules of the Wide Valley, the rules that protect our bloodlines. Ruuqo was only doing his duty.

He had already given Rissa a bellyful of pups, as was proper for the senior male and female of the pack. Unless given permission by the leaderwolves, no other wolf may mate, for extra pups can be difficult to feed unless it is a very good year. The year I was born was a time of conflict in our valley, and prey was growing scarce. We shared the Wide Valley with four other packs of wolves and with several tribes of humans. While most of the other wolves respected the boundaries of our territories, the humans did not — they drove us from our own kills whenever they got the chance. So the Swift River pack did not have food to spare the season I was born. Even so, I don't think my mother truly believed that Ruuqo would hurt us. She must have hoped he wouldn't notice our Outsider blood, that he wouldn't smell it on us.

Just before dawn two days before Ruuqo came to end our lives, my brother, Triell, and I climbed eagerly up the incline of soft, cool dirt that led from our den to the world outside. Dim light filtered into the deep hollow of the den, and yips and growls from the wolves outside echoed off the walls of our home. The scents and sounds of the world above intrigued us, and anytime we weren't eating or sleeping, we were trying to sneak outside.

"Wait," our mother had told us, blocking our way, "there are things you must know first."

"We just want to see what's out there," Triell wheedled. I caught the mischievous glint in his eye, and we tried to dash past her.

"Listen." Our mother placed a large paw over us, pressing us to the ground. "Every pup must pass inspection to be allowed into the pack. If you do not pass, you do not live. You must listen to what I teach you." Her voice, usually soft and comforting, held a worried tone I'd never heard before. "When you meet Ruuqo and Rissa, the leaderwolves, you must show them you are healthy and strong. You must prove that you are worthy to be part of the Swift River pack. And you must show them respect and honor." She released us, gave us one more worried look, and bent to wash my sisters, who had followed us up to the mouth of the den. Triell and I retreated to a corner of the warm den to plan what we would do to become part of the pack. I don't think it occurred to me that we could fail.

Copyright © 2008 by Dorothy Hearst

Reading Group Guide

1. What do the three rules that guide the covenant of wolves in the Wide Valley — to stay away from humans as much as possible, to never kill a human unprovoked, and to mate only with wolves inside the valley — reveal about the tensions between wolves and humans in this region? How did this covenant originally arise, and what roles do the Greatwolves and the krianans play in transmitting this to the packs that inhabit the Wide Valley?
2. "'You must stay and become part of the pack. Do not come for me until then. You have promised.'" How does the forced departure of Kaala's mother, Neesa, from the Swift River pack affect Kaala's standing among her fellow wolves? Why do the Greatwolves support Neesa's being exiled, but refuse Ruuqo when he wants to kill Kaala because of her mixed blood? To what extent does Kaala's existence in the Swift River pack depend on the Greatwolves' ongoing protection of her?
3. How would you characterize Ruuqo's relationship with Kaala? To what extent does Kaala strive to win Ruuqo's admiration and respect? In what ways does Ruuqo thwart Kaala's efforts to obtain romma? How are Ruuqo's feelings for Kaala complicated by his own brother's being exiled for interacting with humans?
4. "My legs shook and my head whirled. My chest began to burn like the very fires the humans kept, and I felt as if an invisible vine had wrapped itself around my heart, and now pulled me over to the human homesite." How does Kaala's attraction to the humans in her midst betray her unique heritage? Why does she risk being exiled from the pack to help save TaLi?
5. In Promise of the Wolves, author Dorothy Hearst gives the reader a deep look at wolf life from the actual source — the entire novel is narrated from the perspective of Kaala. How did the insights you gained from seeing the world through the eyes of a wolf impact your appreciation of this novel and the wolf as a species? If you could have asked Kaala any questions about her experiences, what would they be?
6. "Trevegg walked over to him. 'No wolf is a pack unto himself, Ruuqo,' the oldwolf said softly." How does the author explore the similarities between wolves and humans in Promise of the Wolves, and why does she choose to juxtapose them repeatedly? Why might the human-wolf relationship elicit anxiety or fear in some cultures or societies? How is this anxiety related to long-standing historical assumptions about wolves?
7. Throughout Promise of the Wolves, other animals — including the raven Tlitoo and the elkryn Ranor and Yonor — are given voices that wolves can understand. How do some of the more fantastical elements of this novel — the fact that animals can communicate with humans and with one another — affect your regard for this work of fiction? To what extent did you find yourself appreciating or being distracted by some of the more fantastical elements?
8. "I'd thought my feelings for TaLi were wrong and unnatural. Now this wise and ancient human was telling us that it was not so, and that so much of what we'd been told about the humans — and about our own history — was untrue. How could I believe her?" Why do the Greatwolves mislead Kaala and the other wolves in her pack, and why does TaLi's grandmother, a krianan, choose to expose their deception?
9. Kaala is helped along her journey by many: her mother, Neesa; her aunt, Rissa; Zorindru and the other Greatwolves; her packmates Ázzuen and Marra; Trevegg; Tlitoo; Lydda, the spiritwolf; and TaLi and her grandmother. Of all of these aides, who do you think is most responsible for her survival and why? How does Kaala's development over the course of the novel, from outcast and misfit to mature she-wolf, reflect the typical arc of a fictional protagonist? In what respects is Kaala like other heroines in novels you have read?
10. "'I started a journey that you must complete, daughterwolf.'" What role does Lydda, the spiritwolf, play in Kaala's awakening to her heritage as the wolf that can unite wolves and humans? How do her interactions with Kaala throughout Promise of the Wolves reveal her allegiances? Why do you think the author chose to begin and end the novel with glimpses of Lydda, and how did her decision to do so affect your appreciation of this novel as part of a continuum, or larger story, about the wolves in the Wide Valley?

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Promise of the Wolves (Wolf Chronicles Series #1) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 219 reviews.
Kaalathewolf More than 1 year ago
Finally a series about wolves! ( The kind that don't turn into hairy men at night)This is the best book I have read in my life! I would reccomend this book to anybody 9 years or older! Thank you so much Dorothy Hearst!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dorothy Hearst is a talented writer who combines meticulous research with a story so compelling that you never notice how much you're learning along the way. In Promise of the Wolves, she gives you a vision of the world 14,000 years ago from the point of view of Kaala Smallteeth, a young wolf in the Swift River Pack of the Wide Valley, and in doing so she teaches you about the co-evolution of humans and wolves. Kaala is an outsider, a wolf of mixed blood who is attracted to humans for their wolf-like qualities. (There's a particularly nice scene where Kaala sees human children tumbling over one another like wolf pups.) Kaala's most unusual trait is her capacity to love another species. Because of her special talent for empathy and compassion, she becomes peacemaker who struggles to prevent a war between wolves and humans. This is not an easy role for Kaala to assume, because it involves serious risk. The leader of her pack has warned her that if she associates with humans, she'll be banished from the valley forever. Kaala is brave and appealing, but Hearst has given her problems and flaws that keep her real. She's stubborn, rash, and something of a renegade; and there are times when you want to step into the story warn her that she's clearly headed for disaster. Promise of the Wolves takes place in a fully imagined world. Besides Kaala, it contains other riches: ravens who croak in haikus, spirit wolves who come to Kaala in visions, Great Wolves who are the secret guardians of human and wolf destiny, human grandmothers who can speak to animals in their own tongues. But beyond all else, this is a wolf's eye view of the moment when wolves domesticated humans and in the process became dogs. After you read this novel, you'll probably never again see a dog on a leash without wondering who's walking whom. This was a great read. I'm waiting impatiently for Book II of The Wolf Chronicles.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book, Promise of the Wolves, is the first wolf book that I have ever read, and it is by far one of my top favorites. It doesn't tell of wolves as humans think they are—vicious, bloodthirsty, murderous carnivores—and it doesn't tell of them as werewolves—two-legged, hairy, filthy, slobbering beasts whos only wishes are to kill—but it describes them as they truly are: generous, loyal, loving creatures; it tells of who they are through their own eyes, all the dangers they face, the feelings they feel. Just as we do. It describes the evolution of human and wolf, with so much detail, it feels as if you were there, witessing every event; as if you were a wolf yourself. I personally recommend this book to all ages, big and small. Also, if you liked this book, you won't want to miss the book Watership Down, and another series called Wolves of the Beyond.
jawjuhh More than 1 year ago
I read this without great expectations. While I have been known to read fantasy every once in a while, I was never hugely into the whole werewolf thing. Luckily for me this wasn't about werewolves, it was about actual wolves that can talk and communicate with other animals. It was oddly compelling and written beautifully. I really enjoyed reading this and I recommend it, even if you're not a fan of the genre.
AND More than 1 year ago
I have just recently lost my one of dearest friends, a wolf/akita mixed, named Kuno. This book was a beautiful written story that had be laughing and crying as I remembered all the antics that my Kuno pulled as a puppy. I always believed that she knew what I was thinking before I did. I look forward to reading future adventures...
Sharubii More than 1 year ago
I first found this book during a trip to Singapore, and since I didn't have much else to read, I bought it. I could hardly put it down; Kaala's adventures from pup to young adult were vibrant in the storytelling, and the plot is original.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As far as I'm concerned this book is up there with some of the best books I've read. Though written in the first person as Kaala, it transports you to view all of the action and adventure in Wide Valley in a third person aspect. You don't read this tale of the Swift River wolves so much as you imagine it along the way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Promise of the Wolves was an outstanding novel, and I find myself researching the second book often! Hearst defenetly has a way with words, because I could imagine everything Kaala and her family were going through. I can't wait for the second!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read this book five times by now and it never gets old. Doroth hearst clearly knows how to write a great novel!
Volligtoll More than 1 year ago
Very good book. I was lucky to have found a signed copy at the book store:) I thought the writing was amazing and was very unique having the view point of the wolf. I'm looking forward to the next book:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did not expect to like it as much as I did. I felt myself being drawn to the wolf characters. Enjoyed it and so will you if you liked Watership Down or the Redwall books by Brian Jacques.Appropriate for all ages.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Kaala was born with Outsiders blood. She watched her siblings die and her mother exiled by the leaderwolf, all because of the blood and the rules broken by it.

Yet Kaala's life is spared when the Greatwolves step in for unknown reasons. Though her life was spared, Kaala is on a difficult path. Ruuqo, the leader of her pack, does everything possible to keep her from becoming pack, and there's something pulling her to the humans that she just doesn't understand.

With the help of a mysterious wolf, a raven, and two of her wolf friends, Kaala learns more about her destiny and the humans. But as war looms on the horizon, Kaala learns that she's not the only wolf keeping secrets, and without the help of those more powerful than her, everyone in the valley may face dire consequences.

PROMISE OF THE WOLVES is an action-packed book, full of surprises and turns. Though it dragged on for a bit at first, I quickly fell in love with Kaala and the life of the wolves. I found myself struggling to put the book down because I wanted so badly to find out the fate of Kaala and her pack, along with the humans.

So whether you're a wolf lover or not, I'd recommend picking up this book. You definitely won't regret it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome for wolf lovers, like me!!!! When i bought this book, i knew it was perfect for me!!! Wolves rock!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Your friend, Silvermoon
Renamon29 More than 1 year ago
One of the best series I have read. The second book is awesome too! The characters are so dynamic and the imagination behind the story is incredible. Must Read if you like Wolves!
NotAnonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like wolves, you will absolutely LOVE this book. Dorothy Hearst puts you inside the mind of a wolf so you get a first hand perspective of being in a wolf pack while reading this book. It was a fun and exciting read and I highly recommend people to try it.
Rosey561 More than 1 year ago
I liked the book. It was different taking on the mind of a wolf, and interesting to go through the day to day activities that the allowed you to in the day of a wolf. It actually seemed human in a way.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i loved this book so much there was so much drama that Kaala brought to their pack and i could not put it down! i was sad, happy, shocked, and felt the suspense throughout the whole book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
because i love fantasy books, i really enjoyed the book. was fun to read, suspended belief that animals can't talk so, i really got into the book. it appears the author did a lot of research to learn the mannerisms of wolves and the way they act toward each other. i came away from the book wanting more so, immediately got the the second book in the series. am reading that now. and it's just as good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was looking for something light to read and enjoy. So I wasn't expecting much. It turned to a great read that quickly sucked me in and I quickly jumped up to read the next book. She tells the story from a wolf's point of view, which at first, it was a little odd since wolves aren't as eloquent in words as humans and also just view things differently. But at the same time, it's what draws you in and you feel like you're really part of the "pack". If you love wolves (or dogs) and enjoy the story of the balance of nature and humans, then this is a great book for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Teaches oneself not to take what we are taught as the absolute truth. But to learn from others and use your life experinces to make the correct choice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful author. I do not ordinarily read this type of fantasy book but I was captivated by this novel from the first page to the last. I then hunted the sequel and read it. As well as being a well written story line it was also very educational. I bought a copy for my 15 year old granddaughter. I am anxious to read the third book of Wolf Chronicle Series, coming out in December.
grambKB More than 1 year ago
Not sure what i expected but this book was very interesting and entertaining. Told by one of the wolves it gave me a lot to think about concerning wild animals and their interaction with humans. I am looking forward to reading second book. The story held my interest from the beginnng and hope you will enjoy also.
DebSimon More than 1 year ago
The time and effort Dorthy spent studying wolf behavior, as well as the historical perspective of how the lives of humans and wolves intertwine, really shines in this book. As a photographer I have spent hundreds of hours observing wolf behavior and I think she's nailed it. It takes a bit of getting use to the fact that that wolves speak, but very quickly I became immersed in the story line. I highly recommend the book.
HeavyReaderChgo More than 1 year ago
This series (I'm on book #2) reminds me of Watership Down so, if you enjoy stories told from the animal point of view (as I do) you'll like it! Before I begin this type of writing I usually prepare myself not to like it--speaking for an animal can easily go wrong: sappy, childish, just bad. I was happy this was not the case with the Wolf Chronicles. Can't believe I read Watership Down almost 40 years ago (Omg). Anyway.....I highly recommend this wolf series!
MistyPB More than 1 year ago
Read this well written novel and the one following but was disappointed that the third one in the trilogy was not yet available. Lovely read for both teenage and adults alike. Those of you who are against profanity will be happy to know this was a wholesome bit of fiction especially for if you are animal lovers. If you aren't averse to waiting on the final installment then I would recommend this series to you. Only gave this trilogy four stars as it indicates the final book is in progress but doesn't devulge the completion date.