Wolfblade is the first book in Jennifer Fallon’s WOLFBLADE trilogy which is a prequel to her DEMO..Show More »N CHILD trilogy which I read several years ago. These are fat epic fantasies with lots of characters that are focused mostly on political drama but also contain plenty of magic and romance.
This story takes place in Hythria, one of the kingdoms in Fallon’s world. Lernen, the current High Prince (a Wolfblade) cares nothing for his country and is not respected by his people because he spends his time in the pursuit of unusually decadent pleasures. All of the nobility agree that Lernen should not be running the country, but they disagree about how they should take care of the problem. Some are content to wait him out, some want to kill him, and some want to take his place. Since Lernen doesn’t seem to be interested in begetting a son, his heir will likely be any future son of his sister Marla Wolfblade, a beautiful teenage girl who Lernen can basically sell off to the highest bidding potential husband. At the beginning of the story Marla is immensely silly. She is more interested in the romantic idea of marrying a handsome warlord than in how her status as mother to the next High Prince gives her (and her husband) political power in Hythria. When Lernen decides to marry her off to the king of the neighboring barbaric country of Fardohnya, Marla is devastated, especially since she thinks she’s in love with the younger son of a Hythrin warlord.
Fortunately for Marla, there are several people in Hythria who don’t want her marrying the Fardohnyan king either, including many of the nobility and the head of the Sorcerer’s Collective. She has another strong ally in a clever dwarf named Elezaar who she has recently purchased from the slave market. Elezaar has his own reasons for keeping Marla happy. Together they will attempt to save Marla from this disaster, but the plan they come up with will have terrible consequences for almost everyone involved. Marla must navigate a political landscape filled with secrets, treachery, sorcery, adultery, kidnappings, and assassinations. By the end of the story many of her family, enemies, and accomplices are dead, some have gotten in way over their heads, and Marla is transformed into a completely different person.
If you love long soap-opera-ish epic fantasies with a medieval setting, lots of characters, many plot twists, complicated political intrigues, and lots of treachery and death, you’ll probably love Wolfblade. In many ways it’s similar to A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, though not as dark and compelling. For the most part I like Fallon’s world, but there are some aspects that I have a hard time believing in. For example, Hythria seems like a typical patriarchy where a woman is valued only for her beauty and the sons she can bear and is expected to remain a virgin until it’s time to be married off to the man of her father’s choosing. Yet just before she’s married, she’s given a court’esa (a purchased male whore) who teaches her all about sex and she’s allowed to have court’esas when she’s married. I find this unlikely in that type of society. I also couldn’t believe that Lernen would be unwilling to spend just a little time trying to get an heir. I mean, for such a decadent guy, how hard would that be? And in a country that has an all-powerful High Prince, would the assassins’ guild really be allowed to keep secrets about who’s trying to kill members of the royal family? Unlikely. This didn’t dampen my enjoyment of the story too much, but it kept me from being completely immersed in Fallon’s world.
Readers who are familiar with the DEMON CHILD trilogy will recognize the origin of a couple of the main characters in those books, namely Damin Wolfblade and (I think) R’Shiel. We also get to visit the Harshini Sanctuary in Wolfblade and learn a little more about their lifestyles.
I listened to Wolfblade in audio format. This has recently been produced by Audible, it’s 25.5. hours long, and it’s narrated by Maggie Mash who has a lovely warm British accent and does a terrific job with the character voices and the pace. I will be choosing this format for the sequel, Warrior.
Satisfying resolution (but not the end of the stor
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature. We review SFF, horror, and comics for adults and kids, in print and audio daily.
Warlord is the last..Show More » book in Jennifer Fallon’s WOLFBLADE trilogy which is a prequel to her DEMON CHILD trilogy and part of her HYTHRUN CHRONICLES. Like its predecessors, Wolfblade and Warrior, it’s a huge sprawling epic (26 hours on audio). The story starts immediately after the tragic events of Warrior (which you really must read first). Marla is still the wealthiest and most powerful woman in the country, but she has taken a major hit and, in some ways, feels alone, despite her large family.
Hablet, the Fardohnian king, is planning to take advantage of Hythria’s weakness while the country is recovering from a plague and while their high prince, Lernen, a useless wastrel, is still ruling. Hablet is massing his army for an invasion and hoping that his independently-minded daughter Adrina won’t ruin things for him. (Hint: She is an important character in the DEMON CHILD trilogy.) Both Marla and her nemesis, Alija Eaglespike, want their own sons to lead Hythria’s army against Hablet. Because of what happened in the previous book, the publically cordial relationship between Marla and Alija has broken down and both women are openly plotting against each other.
Meanwhile, back in Krakandar, Mahkas has become paranoid because Damin is nearing his age of majority. Mahkas is frantically trying to hold on to his rule of the province, and he’s desperate to keep certain secrets that he’s been hiding since book one. He has turned into a mad despot while Damin is away with the Hythrun army. It will take all of our protagonists — Marla, Damin, Marla’s other children’s families, and several friends and allies — to set things to right in Hythria. Most importantly, Damin, who has been trying to fly under the radar by pretending to be just as much of a wastrel as his uncle is, can now show the world that he’s ready to be a warlord.
Several other subplots are going on, too, of course. A couple of these involve women’s issues — one woman is being beaten by her husband and wants a divorce. Another wants to be able to rule her own province instead of being forced to marry a man who can rule it for her. Even Marla, the most powerful woman in the country, has no authority of her own. Her power only comes from her ability to influence the men in her life. How will the various power struggles going on in Hythria and Fardonyha affect how women will be treated now and in the future?
Fans of the WOLFBLADE trilogy are sure to be satisfied with this final installment. It’s got everything we expect from Jennifer Fallon: murder, treachery, love, hate, jealousy, adultery, schemes, revenge, tragedies, triumphs, twists. Fallon keeps us guessing about how things will turn out. While we expect the Wolfblade family to eventually triumph, what we don’t know is how much they’ll have to lose to do so.
My complaints are minor and the same as before — mainly an inability to get completely absorbed because some of the culture and plot seems contrived for dramatic effect. Also, I just didn’t think Marla and Damin were as clever as the other characters thought they were. Some of their brilliant tactics seemed either obvious or unnecessarily elaborate or risky to me. A few of the characters (especially Lernen and Mahkas) go over the top in this installment and some of the dialogue is inappropriately modern. But readers who’ve overlooked these minor details before shouldn’t have any trouble doing so this time either, and most will be eager to move on to the DEMON CHILD trilogy, if they haven’t already read it (or maybe even if they have). It features Damin and Adrina in later years.
Maggie Mash narrates Audible’s version of Warlord. As I mentioned in my review of Warrior, she has a lovely voice but her pace is slow (but it’s easy to increase the speed with Audible’s app) and her reading of the dialogue tends to be choppy at times. Still, I’d recommend WOLFBLADE on audio for readers who enjoy character-driven political dramas and revenge fantasies.