The Wolf by Leo Carew
A book much stronger in the blood of war than in the quieter machinations of politics.
Split into three main parts that cover the events of a single Autumn, Winter, and Spring, the book sees the Sutherners of Albion (which just so happens to be the oldest name of Great Britain) demolish a long-held peace and bring war to the ancient race of Anakim. It is focused on the clash of three main players: Roper, the new 'Black Lord' of the Anakim, whose abrupt empowerment following the death of his father places him in a position that is tenuous at best; his main rival, Uvoren, a famous Anakim warrior whose popularity and position at the head of the Sacred Guard allows his deadly ambition to challenge the throne; and Bellamus, a wiley Sutherner determined to break out of his low-born status by starting and winning a war in the North. Each of the three will do whatever it takes to stay at the top, pitting them against each other in an uncompromising battle of wills played out though savage battles and political intrigue.
The first part of the book hits hard with brutal scenes of death and betrayal, quickly sketched characterisations that nevertheless effectively reveal the essence of each person, and more than a few surprises. Yet once the basics are all established, things start to fall apart, for Roper and the novel. The challenges faced by young Roper as he struggles to find his place rapidly invests the reader in his plight, as do the cast of characters he rather magically brings to his side. It is here that Carew does his best work, bringing colourful and appealing characters to the page, as well as injecting some real humour. I must note, however, that having one snarky woman who helps a bit in the background but also gets poisoned and pregnant, does not a make a good female character, and there are so few women that their portrayal matters. Anyway, rather than a gradual evolution, Roper morphs from threatened youngster to skilled leader far too quickly, then makes a series of bizarre political and moral choices against the advice of his closest allies. This factional to-and-fro in the middle section of the book is slow, without the necessary character development it would take to make it interesting. The art of war is portrayed more vibrantly, with scenes of one-on-one combat by far the most impressive, though some of the larger battle sequences run on just that bit too long. Even here, there are some questionable decisions by the author to skip over battles and only have them recounted in retrospect-the first time was plot driven and necessary, but then again? Not so much.
Additionally, the world in which this is played out felt too ephemeral, somewhat of a surprise considering so much was over-described. The author happily spends three pages detailing a fortress or a wild hunt, but rather than add to the wider picture, these mini-segments took the reader further away from the action. There was so much time spent not doing or saying anything important that skimming became inevitable, particularly in the second and third sections of the book, which were padded with irrelevant scenes, repetition, and unnecessary conversations. At times, the pacing was glacial. The natural world fared somewhat better. The maps at the beginning of the book indicate the Northern Sky of the Anakim covers lands which approximate everything above modern-day Leeds and is it easy to imagine an amplified version of that landscape, a wilder and more unwelcoming place filled with dangerous terrain and predatory beasts. The Anakim are an essential reflection of their home- there's a chilling scene played out where the invading army is surprised by Anakim warriors high in the mountains, appearing silently out of the mist... truly the monsters of Suthern legend. Yet while these individual scenes have a significant impact, the greater impression is of disconnection- the author may have told too much, but it was too little of what the reader really wanted to know.
Overall, some promising signs, but the failure in cohesion and pacing drained far too much of the fun.
ARC via Netgalley
This The Wolf book review was written by Emma Davis
All reviews for: Under The Northern Sky
Under The Northern Sky #1
The Wolf is a thrilling, savagely visceral, politically nuanced, and unexpectedly wry exploration of power - and how far one will go to defend it. Violence ...
Have you read The Wolf?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
The Wolf reader reviews
Noah from Canada
Ignore the poor reviews. This is what fantasy should be in its essence. Its raw, its graphic and it makes you feel.
MJ from Netherlands
Just a good book, it makes you want to keep reading and really intrigued me all the way.
Lloyd from United States
Unique, entertaining and with excellent character development. I can forgive some minor flaws because overall I found the book to be very entertaining. The fight scenes were excellent, and because each race has unique advantages and disadvantages the battles were unique to this story. Loved the book and can't wait to read the next installments.
Dee from France
I so wanted to enjoy this that I stuck with it far too long. The character development is weak - I wanted to know so much more about Roper's feelings and relationships. Considering he is the son of the Black Lord and supposedly trained in political situations he seems surprisingly unaware of the characters and factions he is being groomed to lead. And his marriage to Keturah is unbelievable- I wanted to understand how they both felt about each other and to develop the dynamics between them. By the end ( to which I skipped I'm afraid) I felt more interest in and sympathy for the description of the north land than in the cardboard and disappointing characters. The author would benefit from reading Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie to learn how a character doesn't need to be likeable or 'nice' to be a fascinating read.
6.6/10 from 5 reviews
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
The Raven Tower
For centuries the kingdom of Iraden has been protected by a god known as the Raven. But in their hour of need, the Raven speaks nothing to its people. It is into this unres...
Nevernight is the first in an epic new fantasy series from the New York Times bestselling author, Jay Kristoff.In a land where three suns almost never...
Touch of Iron
Is the Living Blade real or just a legend? With it... Prince Bashan could win back his kingdom. Master Telen Diaz can free himself of the burden from his past. Owen Smith s...
Red Queen's War
The Red Queen is old but the kings of the Broken Empire fear her as they fear no other. Her grandson Jalan Kendeth is a coward, a cheat and a womaniser; and tenth in line t...
A Song of Ice and Fire
George RR Martin
Summers span decades. Winter can last a lifetime. And the struggle for the Iron Throne has begun. As Warden of the north, Lord Eddard Stark counts it a curse when King Robe...
The Inheritance Trilogy
Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky - a palace above the...
Before the thorns taught me their sharp lessons and bled weakness from me I had but one brother, and I loved him well. But those days are gone and what is left of them lies...
Legends of the First Empire
Michael J Sullivan
Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god f...
Nona Grey’s story reaches its shattering conclusion in the third instalment of Book of the Ancestor.THEY CAME AGAINST HER AS A CHILD. NOW THEY FACE THE WOMAN....
Great fantasy books published in 2018
"A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess's story," this #1 New York Times bestseller is "both epic and intimate in its scop...
Age of War
Michael J Sullivan
The alliance of humans and renegade Fhrey is fragile - and about to be tested as never before. Persephone keeps the human clans from turning on one another through her iron...
Legion: Lies of the Beholder
Stephen Leeds, also known as 'Legion', has a unique mental condition. He can become an expert on any subject in hours... and with every new area of expertise a new ...
A Veil of Spears
The Night of Endless Swords nearly saw the destruction of Sharakhai, and since then the Kings have come down hard on the rebelloious Moonless Host. Hundreds have been murde...
The Ember Blade
A land under occupation. A legendary sword. A young man’s journey to find his destiny.Aren has lived by the rules all his life. He’s never questione...
Fire and Blood
George RR Martin
From the masterly imagination behind A Game of Thrones - one of the greatest fantasy epics of all time and an unmissable HBO hit series - comes a definitive history of West...
In Mystic Class Nona Grey begins to learn the secrets of the universe. But so often even the deepest truths just make our choices harder. Before she leaves the Convent of S...
Iron and Magic
Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh ...
The Divine Cities Trilogy
Robert Jackson Bennett
A special omnibus edition, collecting all three books of Robert Jackson Bennett’s acclaimed Divine Cities trilogy in a single volume. &nbs...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: