I just want to start off saying that I wanted to like Wolfsangel. I really did. The origin of the werewolves, Vikings, Norse Gods, witches and true love – what’s not to love about all of that? Or so I thought before I read Wolfsangel.
The Viking king Authun leads his men on a raid against an Anglo-Saxon village. Men and women are killed indiscriminately, but Authun demands that no child be touched. He is acting on prophecy—a prophecy that tells 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. After ensuring that his faithful warriors, witnesses to what has happened, die during the raid, Authun takes the children and their mother home, back to the witches who live on the troll wall. And he places his destiny in their hands.
So begins a stunning multivolume fantasy epic that will take a werewolf from his beginnings as the heir to a brutal Viking king down through the ages. It is a journey that will see him hunt for his lost love through centuries and lives, and see the endless battle between the wolf, Odin, and Loki, the eternal trickster, spill over into countless bloody conflicts from our history and our lives.
This is the myth of the werewolf as it has never been told before and marks the beginning of an extraordinary new fantasy series.
The plot started out at a snail’s pace, progressed to a slug’s speed and pretty much maxed out at a sloth’s quickness. To be fair though, there were a ton of fight scenes throughout Wolfsangel that slightly livened up the pace a bit. But that never stopped me from falling asleep while reading this book.
Typically, the heroine is the character seen as too stupid to live. While Adisla, the heroine, did fit that saying, she was not alone. Vali, one of the twin boys from the prophecy, was also really too stupid to live. Vali started making bad decisions the moment he saw Adisla and continued to make for the rest of Wolfsangel, because theirs was a love that made them stupid to the world. Instead of learning how to be a king (because as the sole heir to Authun, he was going to be king) he spent all of his time with Adisla. So when he grew up, he had no idea how to be a king and protect Adisla from his enemies. And Adisla was perfectly content to take up all of his time, keeping him from learning how to fight and the laws of his lands. Neither looked to the future (except when Adisla said she absolutely refused to be Vali’s concubine – the only thing about her that I could respect).
Feileg, the other boy who was lost to Authun, is only slightly less annoying than his twin simply because he was raised by wolves and therefore he thinks like a wolf, seeing to his needs first. That is, until he met Adisla. Then he too fell in love with her and became stupid. And Adisla’s lack of a brain showed again when she couldn’t figure out that Feileg was Vali’s identical twin brother. (To be fair, no one knew Vali had a brother, but still. Identical twins. Shouldn’t be too hard to realize they are related.)
Every once in a while, a novel that leaves a bad taste in my mouth redeems itself with its ending. And while there was an unexpected twist at the end of Wolfsangel, it wasn’t enough for redemption. By the time I reached the ending, I was ready for Wolfsangel to be over.
I didn’t recognize the book I read from your review. I think this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. You say the plot is slow but in the first chapter alone there is a raid, a battle, an abduction, a betrayal and the fulfilment of a prophecy. How much faster moving do you want?
The plot races along for page after page and I read it in two sittings. The writing is at a level above most fantasy, genuinely poetic and moving. The witch queen was terrifying and the magic like nothing I’ve ever read. And, as a lot of the rave reviews on the cover note, it gives us a totally new werewolf – something original, scary and strange. However, if you want the same old paranormal romance with the same old jocks, bullies and lovelorn girls you might be disappointed. This is an adult, intelligent, complicated book.
The characters aren’t high school students with fangs, they’re very convincing 9th century men and women. They don’t think like us, they don’t act like us. If you’re looking to see yourself reflected in the main characters you won’t. If you’re looking for a window on another time, this is it.
And calling them ‘stupid’ really tells me nothing. How, why? Each character who does something has a reason to. I could understand every character’s motivation perfectly. If Vali becomes king he can’t marry Adisla and, as she won’t be his concubine, they won’t be able to be together – wasn’t that obvious? That’s why he wasn’t willing to learn how to become a king. He does learn to fight and he has his own ideas on battle tactics that prove right. The chapter where Feileg is abandoned as a young boy on the hillside was eerie, beautiful and heartbreaking.
You’ve missed a major point on the twins thing – Adisla sees that Vali and Feileg are similar but she puts it down to the effect of sorcery. The Vikings have a prejudice that all black haired people look the same, so that’s why they don’t remark on their similarity. Also, Feileg is described as much leaner and more muscular in the face than Vali due to his wild upbringing.
Wolfsangel is a proper, grown up book, brilliantly written and very convincing in its depiction of Viking life and thinking. It’s got a mythic feel that really does recall the Norse sagas.
I’d recommend anyone thinking of buying this book to Google it and see just how many brilliant reviews it has. This reviewer is – as far as I can see – alone among bloggers and reviewers in not liking it.
I have to disagree with this review. I thought Wolfsangel was a wonderful, poetic, pageturning masterpiece.
This is a dark and visceral tale and there’s some challenging writing but it’s very rewarding. Much better than your average fantasy book, really, really original and spooky.
I’d recommend anyone to read it who wants something challenging and new.