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Black Wolves by Kate Elliot {4 Stars}

Black Wolves by Kate Elliot is the first in a truly epic fantasy trilogy featuring a kingdom in transition and giant eagles. Do you really need to know besides giant eagles? Oh fine. Black Wolves features a full cast of characters including several women and a fascinating portrayal of events showing how history skews the interpretation of everything. This is a fantasy you can really sink your teeth into.

Note: I received copy of Black Wolves from the publisher.

Black Wolves by Kate Elliot {4 Stars}

Black Wolves by Kate Elliot (The Black Wolves Trilogy #1)
Published by Orbit on Nov. 3rd, 2015
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Page Length: 780 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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An exiled captain returns to help the son of the king who died under his protection in this rich and multi-layered first book in an action-packed new series.

Twenty two years have passed since Kellas, once Captain of the legendary Black Wolves, lost his King and with him his honor. With the King murdered and the Black Wolves disbanded, Kellas lives as an exile far from the palace he once guarded with his life.

Until Marshal Dannarah, sister to the dead King, comes to him with a plea-rejoin the palace guard and save her nephew, King Jehosh, before he meets his father's fate.

4 Stars

Strengths:

  • Despite what the cover would suggest, Black Wolves is really mostly about female characters. Sure, Kellas is important, but the two female giant eagle riders are also pretty important ;-). The world portrayed in Black Wolves certainly still has some issues with gender equality, and more start brewing, but it was refreshing to read a fantasy where women are expected to take on many similar roles to men, including fighting and riding giant eagles.
  • On that same note, there are a number of different kinds of strength shown in this story. There are the fighters, sure, but there are also the cunning women who seem to really be running the kingdom and find clever ways to control their destinies. There is also the up-to-now fairly useless pretty boy who rises to the occasion far beyond what even he expected.
  • This story takes place over a large timescale, nearly two generations. The parts do a great job of portraying important events and then jumping forward several decades to show how things have changed and been reinterpreted. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a fantasy that tackles time quite like this and I liked it.
  • The world building of this book is that perfect mix of showing some parts and dropping hints about a whole lot more. There are clearly a lot of cultures beyond The Hundred and they are all unique and interesting. I can’t wait to explore more!
  • Magic has an interesting place in Black Wolves. There are demons, but they aren’t your typical demons, in fact you would be forgiven for thinking they resemble the typical good magic beings and they used to be good, but apparently got corrupted. But maybe there is also more going on? I love grey areas, so I’m really excited to find out more about the demons’ history.

Weaknesses:

  • There are times when the story got a bit slow for me. I expected to tear through these 800 pages for some reason, but it took me longer than I thought. I think some of this is because…
  • I’m just not that into intrigue. There is a lot of scheming in the palace and bargaining for marriages and such. I loved the action scenes and the characters who were dealing with the intrigue, but I always found myself getting back into the story once characters started actually doing things instead of talking.
  • Trigger warning for rape. I wasn’t expecting it and it rather threw me.

Summary:

Black Wolves embodies a lot of what I love about current trends in fantasy: non-European settings, gender equality, grey areas, and creative world-building. There were times I got bored with the politics, but that’s a personal issue more than anything. If you are looking for a new fantasy trilogy that is different from the norm, but still has those classic story elements we all love, this is one to check out.

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya

 

 Black Wolves by Kate Elliot

© 2016, Anya. All rights reserved.

Comments

  1. Best Kate Elliott book I’ve ever read. She really outdid herself with this one and I’m glad I read it too, despite the staggering 800 pages. Let’s hope one of the female characters get to grace the cover in the sequel :)
    Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum recently posted…Book Review: The Bands of Mourning by Brandon SandersonMy Profile

  2. This is on my maybe list. I had heard the two females were bigger characters but I understand the cover. Guys LOL :)
    Felicia GeekyBlogger (@thegeekyblogger) recently posted…Review: The Match of the Century by Cathy MaxwellMy Profile

  3. Color me intrigued. Do you think the cover focused especially on the dude just for marketing reasons (attempting to make it more appealing to the “traditional” dude demographic in SFF lit)?
    looloolooweez recently posted…Reevaluating My Reading: Author OriginsMy Profile

    • *gets crayons* :D I definitely do, I think I saw a review from one of the big reviewing sites that focused completely on the actions of the men and conveniently forgot there were mostly female characters, sigh. I’m hoping book two has one of the women!

  4. Definitely a book on my list, although the page count is very intimidating:-) But it’s going to be hard to resist, I’ve read so many good reviews!
    Tammy @Books, Bones & Buffy recently posted…CITY OF BLADES (THE DIVINE CITIES #2) by Robert Jackson Bennett – ReviewMy Profile

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