This is a blog with spoiler free reviews. Most will be Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror, but there will be some books in other genres, including the occasional Non-Fiction review. There is an ongoing series of Cover Reveal Round-Ups, and sometimes I'll write an article on something that interests me.

21 January, 2011

REVIEW: WOLFSANGEL

Cover Illustration: Paul Young
Cover Design: Patrick Knowles

WOLFSANGEL
BY
M. D. LACHLAN

ISBN: 978-0-575-08957-0
Pages: 438
Publisher: Gollancz
Publishing Date: 20 May 2010


On the cover: 

The creature looked at his body and it seemed to him a very fine thing. His hands were strong and large and his muscles were wound to his bones like tree roots around rock. His teeth felt like shining knives in his head.

A story of Vikings and mad gods, a story about hunger - for love, for life and for death.

The Viking King Authun leads his men on a raid against an Anglo-Saxon village. A prophecy has told him that the Saxons have stolen a child from the Gods. If Authun, in turn, takes the child and raises him as an heir, the child will lead his people to glory.
But Authun discovers not one child, but twin baby boys.

 Authun takes the children and their mother home, back to the witches who live on the troll wall. And seals all their fates.

One child will hunt a wolf, the other will become a wolf.

Both will become rivals in love. And both are tied into the schemes of a witch queen and a dead god; Odin, lord of the hanged.

    Let us start with getting one thing out of the way, I am Norwegian. And you get kind of wary of people stepping in and using your cultural heritage when you come from a small region like the Nordic, or Norse, one. To give you an example, there was some jealousy in Norway when the Disney film Hercules was announced, we have just as rich a pantheon of gods. But once the film was released, and the Greeks started complaining, people sighed in relief that we hadn't been Disneyfied. -This is what a foreigner who wants to use  Norse legends and sagas as inspiration has to tackle. (To be fair, there is still lots of Viking blood in the British Isles.)

    There's no slow start to this book. Chapter one has plenty of action, and throws you straight into the story. But although this book has plenty of action, that is not what is its real strength. What Lachlan does best is take you under the skin of the characters.
   With few central characters he has time to let us really get to know them, and as the story progresses you get pretty intimate with the lead players. There were times where I really empathized with the characters in a way that few books make me do.

    There's quite a bit of magic in the book. Thankfully Lachlan has stayed close to the shamanistic nature of Norse magic instead of using a AD&D based system. The magic here is very much a part of the story, and it is well integrated, and a Viking of the period would have no problem recognizing it.
    Lachlan also integrates the other paranormal elements seamlessly into his story. And when gods are involved you get a bit of the paranormal.

    The lack of the huge overt treat, that is the mainstay of much fantasy, does make the pace seem deceptively slow. But there is a lot going on, and there is no down-time to get you bored. The story has an inner drive that captures you, and keeps you reading.
    While Lachlan gives us much information in the first sixty or so pages, he holds back a lot for the reader to discover later. The story has many twists and turns, and at times it will have you fooled as to what is going on. It draws to a satisfying conclusion, but promises there is more to come. And if you are like me, you will want to read more of this saga

   Lets go back a bit, to where I started this review. Did Lachlan manage to stay true to the original Norse Sagas? -I think he did, in more ways than one. Not only has he gotten the feel of the sagas almost perfect, but he has stayed true to the Norse myths.
    There is no doubt that Lachlan has done his research for this novel. -To be honest, I got to say that I know he's been to Norway before writing it. He has also obviously done extensive research on the historical period, what is known as the Viking Age [Vikingtiden] here in Norway.
    Lachlan has  managed to combine the sagas with fantasy and horror, and pulled off a magnificent novel. I am eagerly awaiting the follow up Fenrir, that is released later this year.

A COUPLE OF NOTES:
-If a publisher from Norway, or any of the other Nordic countries reads this: Check out the book, I think it is well worth translating and publishing.
-M.D. Lachlan is the not so secret pseudonym of journalist and author Mark Barrowcliffe.

-This book was sent to me by the author.

LINKS: M.D. Lachlan  Gollancz

7 comments:

  1. Sounds very cool! I've a weak spot for mythology retellings, and even better it sounds like the author did not play fast and loose with the culture. I will be keeping my eye out for Wolfsangel!

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  2. I've got this one on my list of books to read. It sounds really interesting.

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  3. Thanks for the comments to both of you :-)

    It is a very interesting book, and Lachlan has certainly stayed true to the sagas.
    He has of course written an original story, but one that wouldn't be out of place around a Viking fire on a late night.

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  4. Great review Ole :) I love getting your perspective on whether Lachlan got the saga's right :D This book is firmly on my wishlist now!

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  5. @Mieneke Thank you :-)
    I thought it was a great book, and I am now waiting for the next one.

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  6. I haven't read this book but I really REALLY want to. I get kind of picky with books that deal with ancient pantheons and all that. I usually find they are either very poorly done and thus, campy, or very well done. If anyone is going to know whether or not the norse aspects in this book are well done, it's going to be a person who lives in that area, so I'm really REALLY glad you attacked that aspect of the book. It makes me much less leery of this read.

    Anyway, great review!!

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  7. I loved this novel when I read it - it was a bit strange, at times, but thought it worked very well. "Fenrir" should be great, too.

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