The Wolf's Call by Anthony Ryan

The Wolf's Call book cover
Rating 8.8/10
This is fantasy with a totally legendary feel; it’s epic in every regard.

Robin Hobb meets Joe Abercrombie in a story that delivers so many gut-wrenching blows. This is fantasy with a totally legendary feel; it’s epic in every regard and certainly something that needs to be added to your reading list.

The best part for me was the villain. The Darkbalde is a rather enigmatic figure and his story is slowly revealed through flashbacks that only build up the suspense. These sections were by far my favourite because they carried with it an echo of prophecy, an echo of deeds worthy of song. Dark magic was layered on intrigue to create a legend that may be entirely self-deluded, but it is a legend nonetheless.

The Darkblade has created an army and he is ready to conquer the world; his men love him, and they worship him as a god and a liberator. They will do anything he asks without question because it’s he that asks. Vaelin (the protagonist from Blood Song) is somewhat reluctant to get involved in all the drama and to take on such a powerful enemy. Vaelin is clearly the most capable and experienced man in the field (even though his magic has faded) though he still wants no part in the war that is to come. Well, that’s until he hears that his lost love has been dragged into the mess caused by The Darkblade. His hand is forced, and he must intervene for the affection he still holds for her. Her life is at risk, so he draws his sword and sets sail.

“An old love, born in youth, but now stained by bitterness and regret. The wounds left by betrayal never truly heal.”

What unfolds is a story driven by a need for revenge and justice. It’s fast-paced and balanced well with cinematic style action and intense moments of dialogue. And the characters are truly fascinating people, many come with stories I want to hear and history I ought to know. The setting has a Germanic tribal feel in places with its forests and barbarian type aesthetic. It reminded me somewhat of Roman fiction with some fantasy elements thrown in. And it all works rather well. It’s something every fantasy fan will appreciate.

This is my first Anthony Ryan novel and it has given me a good feel for his writing and his world; however, before progressing with this series I ought to go back and read his previous trilogy, The Raven’s Shadow. I don’t feel like I’ve missed out much with The Wolf’s Call, in terms of plot, but I think my engagement and investment with the characters would have increased if I knew a bit more about them. It’s all good reading a summary in here about their exploits but reading it first-hand would have been better. Overall though, it’s still accessible to new readers.

So, this is a solid first entry in a duology that I just know is going to be incredible. Exciting times ahead for Anthony Ryan fans!

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