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An exiled captain returns to help the son of the king who died under his protection in this rich and multi-layered first book in an action-packed new series.
Twenty two years have passed since Kellas, once Captain of the legendary Black Wolves, lost his King and with him his honor. With the King murdered and the Black Wolves disbanded, Kellas lives as an exile far from the palace he once guarded with his life.
Until Marshal Dannarah, sister to the dead King, comes to him with a plea-rejoin the palace guard and save her nephew, King Jehosh, before he meets his father's fate.
Combining the best of Shogun and Vikings, Black Wolves is an unmissable treat for epic fantasy lovers everywhere.
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
Complex epic fantasy with lots of women
It’s been a while since I got into a dense, multi-volume fantasy epic. I ventured this one on the promise of lots of prominent, varied female characters, and it delivered on that as promised. Black Wolves follows the intersecting lives of a handful of people entwined in a multi-generation period of intense political and social change for a region known as The Hundred, with repercussions on neighboring regions and cultures. There is a slight look-and-feel of Asia to this secondary world, but not in a direct fashion, and the multilayered differences between the many cultures that are portrayed evoke something that is clearly itself and nothing else.
The scope of this epic becomes clear when “Part Two”, starting at chapter seven, lets us know that we are 44 years after the era of the opening chapters. A character who was a willful girl in the beginning is now a grizzled warrior, characters glimpsed at first have long since died, leaving us to deal with their grandchildren. I confess I had a bit of a “Wait...what?” moment. But it works, because the most dominant theme of the story is change. The sort of change that may be experienced over one lifetime, if the life is positioned just right, but that would be invisible on a year-to-year basis.
A story with this scope can’t really be summed up in a short review. We have cultures in clash with pre-modern (no gunpowder) weapons and the threat, but only rarely the reality, of magical interventions. We have kings and emperors and dynastic manoevering. We see the slow but relentless hegemony of an invading religion, when that religion is intent on dominance and understands the importance of infiltrating all layers of society. We see how multiple people of good will and honor can end up supporting entirely differnt visions of what is best for the land and the future, and struggling with the conflict of personal and political bonds. And the women. Oh my, the women. As pure water after a long harsh desert of male-dominated epic fantasies. We even have a solid sprinkling of women romantically involved with each other, where those bonds are just one more complication in their eventual goals.
If I had any minor disappointment in this book, it was that none of the characters utterly grabbed my heart and held it tightly. I liked them all, and want to see how they come to their eventual goals (or don’t). But the multi-focal nature of the cast made it a little hard to slip entirely inside any one head. You think you’re getting to know someone and then whoops you’re over there. It’s a function of the way the book is designed, so it isn’t exactly a flaw. But I’d like to have fallen head over heels in love with at least one of them.
At any rate, if you want a new vision of what epic fantasy can be, Black Wolves is the start of something great. And it would make a truly awesome multi-season tv series. Just saying.