Synopsis: Violence and death have come to the land under the Northern Sky.
The Anakim dwell in the desolate forests and mountains beyond the black river, the land under the Northern Sky.
Their ancient ways are forged in Unthank silver and carved in the grey stone of their heartland, their lives measured out in the turning of centuries, not years.
By contrast, the Sutherners live in the moment, their vitality much more immediate and ephemeral than their Anakim neighbors.
Fragile is the peace that has existed between these very different races – and that peace is shattered when the Suthern armies flood the lands to the north.
These two races revive their age-old hatred and fear of each other. Within the maelstrom of war, two leaders will rise to lead their people to victory.
Only one will succeed.
Author: Leo Carew
Title: The Wolf
The Wolf has appeared on a few of the blogs that I follow and I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC.
Although marketed as a fantasy – which is it – there was a historical fiction vibe about this book. The way warfare was fought, the bonds between the men and the structure of the army reminded me of Roman novels and how the legions operated.
As a fantasy reader, I loved this book. As someone who adores Roman historical fiction, I couldn’t put it down.
Although this book was perfect for me, if you don’t enjoy warfare elements, this is probably not the one for you.
When a man strikes at you with a sword for the first time, you find the keys to a room which must never be opened except in battle. Some men have it, some men don’t.
We are introduced first of all to Bellamus, an upstart determined to make a name for himself. He has convinced his king to let him wage war on the north and the people there, the Anakim.
The Anakim are introduced through their fearsome, unstoppable leader as the two sides confront each other for the first time.
By the time the chapter is done, that fearsome leader is dead.
Not what I was expecting to happen!
The book follows Roper, the new Black Lord now his father has been killed. But he faces opposition, not just from the invading army but from within his own court. A ruthless yet popular man, Uvoren, challenges Roper for the throne and Roper must find a way to defeat his enemies. But defeating the enemy without may just be key to defeating the enemy within.
Roper is a fantastic character. He is determined to be the ruler he was born to be because he wants the best thing for his people. He learns from those older and wiser but isn’t above letting his temper getting the better of him and acting rashly. He’s human.
There are a number of strong characters. The veteran legions that surround Roper – Pryce, Gray, Helmec – are loyal to Roper in their own way and are heroes of war.
Roper’s relationship with Helmec was not quite so clear-cut. His words towards Helmec at the end made me wonder if there is more than loyalty binding these men together. It’s either a deep attachment to someone who risked everything to protect Roper, or it’s something more. It intrigued me.
Bellamus is also an interesting character. He’s technically the “bad guy”, but the way he treats those around him means he’s likeable in his own way. I didn’t want him to win, but I didn’t want him to be killed either.
The tension remains high throughout the entire book: if there isn’t a war to be fought, there’s a throne to secure. Dialogue inserts the much-needed humour and while it isn’t the fastest pace, the way the book is divided allows a year to pass without it dragging.
There isn’t much more to say about this book. There are moments that felt repetitive, but this is me clutching at straws just to stop me gushing for the entire review. A really strong book – I thoroughly recommend it.