Having read some reviews of The Wolf by Leo Carew from other bloggers, I was nervous and excited to dive into a new world under the Northern Sky, as I don’t often read pure fantasy novels and have never even watched an episode of Game of Thrones. Along the way, I was surprised by the way I fell in love with Carew’s use of description and imagery throughout. While I can’t say it’s the best book I’ve ever read, it was certainly a new venture for me and I did quite enjoy it!
The Anakim and the Sutherners are long-standing enemies, so when the Sutherners break the truce the two have held for a long time, there will be only one victor. The story focuses on a feud between three main characters; Roper, the Black Lord of Anakim, Uvoren, an Anakim warrior and Roper’s biggest rival and Bellamus, a Sutherner born into nothing. Bellamus needs to prove himself to raise his station, so is focused on winning a war in the North.
While Roper has inherited his position, Uvoren is skilled and experienced, so the two must show their worth. Roper quickly becomes a solid leader, making decisions and taking control. With threats from his own Anakim brother and Bellamus, Roper must lead the troupes to victory or risk losing everything.
What I liked
Aside from the beautiful descriptions, which I could talk about for days, Carew specialises in making each character individual, with their own beliefs on how things should be done and their own agenda. I liked the way that the three main characters fought tooth and nail to step over one another to claim the victory, as they were filled with passion and determination which I admire. It was interesting to see which characters took advantage of dirty tactics and which tried to outsmart the others.
The three men are not the only characters in the book, which makes this novel what it is. Pryce and Gray are both excellent examples of Carew’s writing abilities; Pryce knows himself, which makes him a little arrogant, but he is respectful of his seniors and understands his own worth. Having a character be very sure of themselves makes his sections fluid. Gray knows that Roper could fail; he does not deny the probable. He understands the seriousness of the situation and does not take it lightly, speaking about the inevitability of death as a repercussion of war. Keturah is a brilliant character, but it is disappointing that she’s the only strong, determined female represented, in my opinion. She knows her place, yet uses it to her advantage, showing that she’s smart and cunning throughout.
Carew also understands how to write and describe war and enemies. He has read greatly and it shows! Uvoren is such a great antagonist, who would rub anyone up the wrong way. The war scenes littered with death and destruction are accompanied by incredible descriptions and metaphors. I really like Carew’s use of language.
What I didn’t like
Honestly, this book has made me discover that Game of Thrones and similar books to this probably aren’t for me on a regular basis. While I enjoyed this one, I found it difficult to get through at times. That could be because the middle section occasionally drags, as all novels of this kind tend to do, but I plodded on and made it through back to the action. Had they used this time to develop the three main characters, it may have sped it up and kept the pace for readers who prefer to see the growth of their favourite characters through conversation and self-reflection.
Aside from the occasional conversations about culture, the discussions often fell flat. I am not interested in politics generally, so felt that there was too much emphasis on this and less on why the characters were doing what they were doing. I suppose that this is quite personal, but I prefer when I can see specific motivation rather than just doing things for pride and honour. I also didn’t like the treatment of women in the novel. Primarily, they were background, supporting characters. I believe that when you are writing your own world, you have the opportunity to subvert societal norms, and this is where Carew did not deliver for me.
Overall, I mostly enjoyed the book. It was an interesting read for me and I liked the battle scenes and diving into a fantasy world. I would recommend this book to fans of Game of Thrones and other fantasy war novels. Thank you, Becky Hunter from Headline for sending a proof copy of The Wolf in exchange for an honest review.