This is a super ambitious book and I think it pulls it off well. Senya is a young-ish girl, maybe around 19 IIRC. At the opening she’s gone on a journey to go see her uncle who has cattle. Her village is starving and even though it was considered a suicide mission to cross the tundra during a storm to go find these cattle, she did it anyway. Her father was famous and known throughout the clans/tribes as being a notable warrior. Due to that, she’s desperate to get out from under his shadow and shine on her own. She’s a part of a wolf clan, the Valor, and they’ve got more than a little wolf in them. Their clan is marked by extended canines, extra strength, keen senses, and a pension for making friends with wolves. The author sort of sets this up so you think you’re going to be rooting for this character. But, once she arrives at her uncles she makes a ton of mistakes and then presses on with her folly for the entirety of the book, lol.
The Wolfeater shows up at her uncle’s farm and he demands half his herd to feed his Crow clan, these clans have been rivals for generations, and the Wolfeater is a legend among men. Senya, in her anger and impulsivity, kills one of the Wolfeater’s men. She wanted to kill the Wolfeater himself, but his man took a knife for him. Not just any dude, either. They were like best bros since forever and the Wolfeater is Pissed Off. Senya runs and she tries to lead him away from the farm where her uncle is, but he’s not an idiot and so he goes straight to the farm and kills her uncle in revenge for his friend. Which then sets her on a path for revenge.
Senya is a moron. I completely disliked her from beginning to end but I do believe that’s the point. She’s hot headed, but if you actually try and put yourself in her shoes, maybe you could find a bit of sympathy for her. Like yes, this man killed your uncle, and that would obviously piss me off, too. To think that you’d shrug off someone murdering one of your family members isn’t reasonable. However, she was just so headstrong and thought she was right in everything, so much so that she refuses to take advice from others, even from woods witches which are supposed to supernatural. She calls the witch a fraud for disagreeing with her. It’s just so off putting, but that’s 19 for you, I guess? I feel like this is a bit immature for how old she is by this society’s standards. It’s like she’s old enough to know the rules, but not wise enough yet to spot the exceptions to the rules and know how to adapt. She has reasons to believe what she does, but she’s still wrong. The fact that she’s not completely in the wrong makes her mildly relatable but goodness me, teenage characters do tend irk the shit out of me. That’s a terrible idea. Oh dear god you’re making it worse.
Raddock is the Wolfeater and he’s already dying. He’s got some kind of pulmonary disease where he’s coughing up blood. He lives in a world where the weak don’t survive, people who are disabled in some way are often left to die. He knows that his leadership will fade if anyone catches wind of this cough, so he tries to hide it at all cost. He’s had enough of war, he’s lived long enough to have gone through a blood lust and come out the other side as a more calmed, level headed killer. He truly would have left her uncle alone had they just cooperated, despite being rival clans. He has a soft spot for kids, it seems, and the infirmed. He took on a blind girl who was left to die by her family, and he’s the only reason another person in the clan is alive as well, defending her against a death sentence. He’s an extremely complicated and well written character, and he’s going on an impossible quest.
In the Crow clans, they worship the seven gods, and fear the eighth. The seven gods speak on the wind, and there are two classifications of people who can either sense or use magic, but most people can’t do either. There’s a black stone that’s set at the edge of the world, and it’s said that’s where the All Song pours into the world, it’s a sacred stone for them and it’s said that if you touch it, the seven voices become clear and you can commune with the gods. It’s forbidden for women to go there, and for men you can only touch the stone once in a lifetime.
The Wolfeater is not just pissed off his friend is dead, he’s pissed off that his whole life was spent dedicated to being a warrior and serving the seven gods, only to die from a wasting disease. He considers it an insult, and so he says, fuck it, I’m going to touch that black stone twice. Well, his tribe is like, “sorry bro, that’s forbidden, you gotta die now”, and so they set off on a chase to go kill him before he can commit blasphemy.
So now the Wolfeater has two sets of people out to kill him, and he’s got a wasting disease. Can he make it to the black stone and get his answers from the Gods before one of those things kills him? Read and find out!
I think the most compelling aspect of this author’s writing is how quickly I invest and feel like the characters are real people. There are a bunch of POV switches but I was never upset about it because I was almost always instantly interested in what it was they were doing and how they were going to affect the story. I usually grumble through the first few POV jumps because I have to re-orient and I find that annoying sometimes, but not this time. The characters ranged from villainous to ones you’re really rooting for, which is a great cast, I love when there’s variety like that. Too many super likable people is bland, only assholes is grating, a nice blend of everything is fantastic.
So as far as detractions…this did stray into one of my most hated pet peeves, though. However, I saw it coming from the very beginning, which is part of the peeve itself. I was more just disappointed when it happened around 2/3rds through the book. Anyone who’s read it and knows my reviews might know what it is, and hopefully those who haven’t read the book are just vaguely guessing at what it could be. I need to learn how to do spoiler text in my reviews. This also has a never ending death scene with far too many full and eloquent sentences being spoken by a person who’s been run through with a sword. I just made a remark about that in another review recently, so to be consistent, I’ll mention it here, too. There were just a couple info dumps, not very long and they were mostly character background info dumps. Given the length of the book and the depth to the characters there really wasn’t much to scoff at as far as exposition, though. I wouldn’t necessarily call this “fast paced” either. I wouldn’t say it’s a drag, and there wasn’t any point where I wanted to put it down, but this is a slow build to a crescendo. Not necessarily a detraction, more of a warning to people who want hack and slash action battles fast paced craziness. This isn’t that.
This book wraps up very nicely, this could be read as a stand alone despite the epilogue hinting at books to come and more stories from this world and the characters that survived this tale. However, Wolfeater on Goodreads is not listed as #1 in a series, so I’m not sure when this world will be revisited.
Highly, highly recommended.
- Plot: 13/15
- Characters: 14/15
- World Building: 14/15
- Writing: 14/15
- Pacing: 11/15
- Originality: 11/15
- Enjoyment: 9/10
Final Score: 86/100 or 5 stars on Goodreads