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Hardcover A Companion to Wolves (Iskryne) Book

ISBN: 0765318164

ISBN13: 9780765318169

A Companion to Wolves (Iskryne)

(Book #1 in the Iskryne World Series)

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Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good*

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Book Overview

"A Companion to Wolves" is the story of a young nobleman, Isolfr, who is chosen to become a "wolfcarl -- "a warrior who is bonded to a fighting wolf. Isolfr is deeply drawn to the wolves, and though as his father's heir he can refuse the call, he chooses to go. The people of this wintry land depend on the wolfcarls to protect them from the threat of trolls and wyverns, though the supernatural creatures have not come in force for many years. Men are...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Points to consider before reading...

I decided to write a review after reading some of the other posts here, especially the negative ones, and began thinking about what might be relevant to someone interested but not sure if this was their cup of tea. So, here are some basic points you may wish to consider (there are no plot spoilers, and as few thematic ones as possible): 1) This is a character driven book more than a plot driven book. There is a plot, and I loved it, but more often than not you are "growing up" and being indoctrinated alongside the main character. Do not expect constant action or drama. 2) The time frame extends over several years, slowly progressing. 3) The story is frequently gritty, violent, and disgusting. If you disliked the dirty, sweaty, and generally un-prettified Lord of the Rings movie trilogy shots after the characters had been out in the wild for a while you will likely hate some scenes in this book. 4) The story is frequently "offensive" and semi-graphic in its handling of gender-roles and sexuality. It is meant to be. I read this book more like a cultural study on gender roles and society than anything else, and I think that really enhanced my enjoyment of the book. There is a clear "point" the authors are trying to make about gender expectations and the cost to individuals and society when only traditional male/female stereotypes are tolerated. The main character chooses to fulfill a necessary "female" role while simultaneously having to maintain his "male" identity in a sexually polarized society. I found the tension fascinating, but others may find it confusing, offensive, or traumatic. There are several horrific semi-consensual gang rape scenes that add weight to the main character's choice, and they can be hard to read. 5) In case it isn't clear yet... the authors went for gritty realism. Life is harsh, choices are harsh, realities are harsh, and the main character is in a harsh position that does not and will not get better so long as he chooses to remain with his wolf. 6) This book has a nordic flavor and base. Naming conventions and lifestyles reflect this. So if you cannot stand non-english-sounding names and naming practices (like taking on new names to reflect changing societal roles, etc.) or hate communal living situations... just don't bother. Personally, I love norse mythology and traditional tales, so I was in seventh heaven the whole time. By the way, there is a name key for wolves and human characters provided in the book if you need it. 7) This is not a love story, and the main character is not homosexual. Let's just get that out right now. The situation is not that simple. Sex in the book happens between consenting adults of both genders and combinations because their culture(s) either accept or demand it. The main character's position is fascinating and complicated, and one of the major drawbacks to it is that long-term relationships are either impossible or open, so no "love story" as suc

If you love complex, dark fantasy novels, don't pass this one up.

A book that can inspire such divergent opinions -- boring, horrifying, badly written, flowing prose -- seemed worth a glance. So let me add my own extreme reaction; I loved it. I loved it so much, I was so enthralled with the world, the characters, and their relationships that I re-read it immediately after finishing it. Like some of the previous reviewers, I found the names and the name changing annoying. This was less of a problem on the second read. ;-) This book is fabulously dense for being so short. We are not treated to long-winded quests, endless exposition, or extraneous world-building. The plot and characters are well-thought out and spare with details, which makes this an incredibly engaging novel. The authors wisely leave enough room for the reader's imagination, something rare but found in all good fantasy. The novel also felt seamless to me; I couldn't tell you what was written by Bear and what written by Monette. So many collaborative novels are the opposite. However the world of Companion to Wolves is filtered so exactingly through Isolfr's thoughts and impressions that there was no sense of the authors at all. And I agree whole-heartedly with the review that likens this to Pern for adults. The resemblance cannot be accidental. If you grew up reading Pern novels like I did, at some point you may have wondered about all the dirty details that McCaffrey doesn't bother our pretty little heads with. Well this book is all about the messy. Strangely it turns out that being bonded to giant intelligent wolves isn't actually that comfortable or always that convenient for their human companions. When you put a medieval, patriarchal society together with a highly organized matriarchal wolf society and the wolves are the dominant ones, well very uncomfortable things can happen for both humans and wolves. Sometimes this is about sex and sometimes this is about family but mostly it's about death. This is a very violent world. Humans with their wolf companions fight virtually every day and in almost every fight someone is maimed and someone dies. If you lose your companion -- wolf or human -- you find another among the human-wolf pack and then you get up and fight again. Time does not stop for grief and our characters always have the option of leaving. They must decide on a daily basis whether the sacrifices they make for their community is worth it or not. Okay so enough with the theory. What is this book really about? Well for me it is the coming of age story of Isolfr, who starts out knowing who he is and where he fits in his world and ends up in a completely different place both physically and metaphorically. That place is both wonderful and terrible and going there forces him to become someone he could never have imagined, to grapple with issues outside of his experience, to well, grow up. Hopefully growing up isn't as painful for you as it is for Isolfr. :)

Pern with Wolves--for Adults

I loved this book--I couldn't put it down. But then I love rites of passage tales where the unformed hero takes a difficult path, entering into a whole new life/culture. In this case, teen-aged Njall, son and heir of the local lord does not hide from the tithe of boys that the Wolfcarls demand. These men and their large bonded wolves are all that stand between the villages and the brutal trolls and wyverns that ravage the countryside and honor demands that Njall do what is right despite the sacrifice. And yet, it's not truly a sacrifice since from the first, Njall is fascinated by the wolves. His father, on the other hand, hates the wolves and their men--who are figures of mystery and rumor and almost the bogeymen of children's tales. This is because the bonded men feel what their wolves feel and act like a pack--which is one of the reasons they are so effective at fighting trolls. The downside is that when wolves go into heat and mate, it also drives the men. Njall, now called Isolfr, bonds with a gorgeous young bitch that is bound to become an alpha/Queen/konigenwolf. They are rare (more males are born, since they are all warriors). Isolfr loves his wolf, adapts well to the wolfheall (house for each local pack of wolfcarls and trellwolves)--all of which is fascinating reading--but he's ambivalent about the mating practices that goes along with being bonded with a female wolf. The mating scenes are graphic enough, but not as detailed as they could have been. It's mostly that they are depicted with few punches held--not all romantic light-fantasy, but more gritty reality. For me, they gave the tale more depth, in that Isolfr truly is no longer in Kansas and needs to decide what he's capable of and what he truly wants/needs to do. There is also a gritty reality to the warrior life and battles, of course, but we are so used to violence that this doesn't raise an eyebrow, particularly in comparison to sex, sadly. (Personally, I find that aspect of our culture and our responses more troubling than any depiction of sex, which is a natural function, after all.) At any rate, the initiation of Isolfr into the world of companions to wolves and battles and survival, and growing up and finding out about himself and his place in the world was compelling reading. I was sad when I finished this book; it left me still wishing for more.

A great read, with one small but nagging complaint, Oh and P.S., don't listen to the hysteria--there

I enjoyed this book even more than I thought I would. The previous reviews had me curious and worried that the book would be filled with brutal rape scenes or tortured sex of some type, but that is far from the truth. There are two scenes of orgiastic, animalistic frenzy, but they are not rapes, and the book is so much more than those two scenes. I suppose if you are somewhat prudish, or uncomfortable with fluid sexuality/gay themes, this might not be the book for you. I loved it. The world created by these authors is fully realized, with its own inventive but naturalistic ethos. By this, I mean that the basic story of the book seems organic, that it could have logically evolved in some alternate fantasy realm, and that it does not seem forced or arbitrary. So many fantasy stories ask the reader to forego any type of critical thinking, or to just accept that things are the way they are because the author says so. This is not one of those stories. The inner life of the main character, and his relationship to his wolf and friends, is both fascinating and intimate. The story is wide-ranging, and moves surprisingly quickly, but that intimacy I mentioned provides an anchor, pulling the reader along, so that you are always connected to the story, and never seem to be watching events from afar. The one small but specific complaint I have has been mentioned by other reviewers. It is the names of the characters and their wolves. The names seem to be Viking-derived, with characters named Vethulf, Frithulf, Othwulf, Ulfgeirr, etc.). Many of the names are quite similar. Add to this the fact that many of the characters (including the main character) CHANGE their name partway through (in this world, when you become bonded to a wolf, you choose a new name for yourself), and it becomes literally impossible to keep the cast straight in your mind. The authors have tried to help by providing a list of characters in the front of the book (and by using tricks such as alliteration or giving certain characters an obvious identifying trait), but the list of names does not include all of the characters, and does not include BOTH names for those characters whose names change partway through the book, so the list is of little help. Truly, I spent so much time leafing back through the book trying to identify certain characters, that it would have been worth my time to make my own list from the beginning, adding a name each time a new character was introduced, linking the name of the person to the name of his wolf if he had one, and updating it when/if his name was changed. On the other hand, in most instances where I drove myself crazy trying to remember or look up who a certain character was, that character was of minor importance, or was never mentioned again--if you really can't remember who someone is, chances are you don't REALLY need to know--just move on, if you are able. As a rule, though, if you make an effort to remember who belongs to which

A Companion to Wolves is Fantastic!!

This is one of the best books I have read in years. The character development, the angst of the main character, the twist of the male on male relationships. Certainly it's not a novel for anyone who can't be described as an openminded adult but it is an absolutely incredible book. I don't really agree with the reviewer that labelled the sex scenes as gang rape. Is it rape if the person enters into it willingly, though with trepidation? To me the book's examination of homophobia and the young man's coming to terms with his own ideas of honor is one of the best parts of the book. Whatever a person may think of the sexual violence, it was an intergral part of the story. I couldn't put the book down after I started it, finished it in less than 24 hours. I do agree with the complaint about the tongue-twisting names. It would be easier to keep them all straight if the wolf names were distinctively different from the names of the men, but that really is my only complaint. If you are an adult with an open mind and don't have an aversion to a dark sexual component in a story then I would highly recommend this book.
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