The Wolf is an exceptional work of epic fantasy, featuring expertly drawn battles, strong worldbuilding, and a protagonist who works tirelessly to take the reins of a kingdom he stumbles into leading. It’s compelling, thrilling, and everything you could want from a great epic.
A DIFFICULT BILDUNGSROMAN
At its essence, The Wolf is the story of a young man growing into a leadership role he was unexpectedly forced into after the death of his father. Roper starts at the bottom of the ladder with no supporters and an active opposition trying to replace him. It’s no small task to inspire respect within the Anakim people, making his battle all the more epic. We see him grow exponentially throughout the book, changing from a scared, angry boy to a confident, powerful young man. There are conflicts and revelations aplenty that live up to the expectations of a well-written fantasy epic.
The two kingdoms battling for supremacy couldn’t be more different. To the South, you have the Southerners, a race of humans with average lifespans who fear their neighbors to the North. Thanks to the manipulations of a shady figure quickly shouldering his way up the ranks, they decide to invade the North to take it for themselves. Where the South is a typical fantasy kingdom straight out of a King Arthur tale, the North is anything but. The Anakim are a fascinating people with a well-formed culture who live for centuries. They have deep connections to the land, creating a mysterious landscape that seems to bend at their will. While they have cities aplenty, the real gem is the Hindrunn, a massive city made of stone that is nearly impossible to attack. It’s epic to imagine and makes for a fitting setting for the constant political maneuvering and internal conflicts.
Beyond the battlefield, the war for the Anakim leadership provides heavy doses of thrills and drama. Through heated discussions, tense back alley negotiations, constant meddling, and assassination attempts, we see the danger of Anakim politics and what it takes to lead such a fierce people. Roper must work around the clock to find people he trusts and to keep hold of the throne that is rightfully his.
Finally, the battles are everything you could want and more. They’re written expertly, complete with smart military strategy, questionable decisions by those in charge, and heroes who stand out amidst the many.
By Leo Carew
Published by Orbit Books
NOTE: I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest, unbiased review.