Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear – A Companion to Wolves

Rising fantasy stars Monette (MΓ©lusine) and Bear (Whiskey & Water) subvert the telepathic animal companion subgenre so thoroughly that it may never be the same. The inhabitants of a cold and perilous world grounded in Norse/Germanic mythology depend upon the brutally violent wolfcarls, men who bond telepathicallywith huge fighting trellwolves, to protect them from monstrous trolls and wyverns from further north. When the northern threat suddenly intensifies, Isolfr, a young wolfcarl, and his wolf-sister, Viradechtis, a Queen wolf destined to rule her own pack, are thrust into key roles in their civilization’s desperate fight to survive.

Looking at the amazon synopsis of A Companion to Wolves, I can pretty much admit that the primary reason for me to pick up this book was my recently-found love and adoration for Sarah Monette’s work. I didn’t really have too high expectations when I started to read this book, because I’m personally not a great fan of collaborations and then was waiting for the next Labyrinthine book, pretty sure that this one wouldn’t be as heavy on the LGBT side as Monette’s other works.

Well, damn. I was wrong.

And luckily so. In retrospect I think that A Companion to Wolves has been one of the best books I’ve read this year and has quickly become one of my all-time favorites. With a little more than 300 pages this is a short, but plot- and character-packed standalone (though I really wouldn’t mind a sequel in general πŸ˜‰ ) that pretty much stands our common animal-companion fantasy perception on its head.

The outcome of what Elizabeth Bear says on her website was originally planned as a satirical novella is a harsh and beautiful book about loyalty and honor and for everyone who knows Sarah Monette’s Labyrinthine books certainly will recognize the intricacy with which the authors deal with sexuality and character relationships.

I daresay A Companion to Wolves probably isn’t for everyone as it’s very explicit in terms of content and generally brings up some issues that will probably put off anyone who expects this book to be a light, entertaining read. It definitely raises some questions about issues more traditional fantasy just doesn’t deal with and that is exactly what makes this book so intriguing along with both authors’ talent in creating a fast-paced plot propelled by the compelling relationships of its characters – human and nonhuman alike.

Even though the book is definitely a standalone, whether Bear and Monette plan to work on a sequel remains to be seen. I’ll keep my eyes open, because the sad thing about short books like A Companion to Wolves is that they’re over much too soon and leave you wanting for more πŸ˜‰

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Profanity

Okay, everyone who’s read Light, especially the edited version knows that I love to use profanity and its wonderful f-compounds in wild abandon where it’s in character.

At places it’s appropriate, as it’s pretty much present in every-day speech patterns. Now. Can I just say I’m really NOT a fan of the commonly popular American way of making up replacement words for profanity? I think we’ve had this discussion before.

Now again, excuse me please when I want to yell at and shake a certain author. I mean come on. You really can use the f-word without going straight to hell, but even if you don’t want to, just use ‘screwed’ etc. Don’t make up entirely random replacements.

*sigh*

By the way did you notice how I totally abstained from wielding the f-word et alia?

See, even I can do it.

If I have to.

Just a little irritated aside.

Kate Elliott – Kings Dragon

The Kingdom of Wendar is beset by civil war between brother and sister for the throne, by two hostile nonhuman races, by ghosts roaming the streets, and by enough other plots and counterplots to fuel the average Balkan war. Key to successfully resolving the overly fraught situation are Alain, a young prophet who needs to learn his parentage before he can act safely, and Liath, a lifelong fugitive sheltered by her father from worldly knowledge that she must acquire before she can act.

Okay, let me tell you this: excessive worldbuilding really isn’t one of my personal favorite things in fantasy. That might explain why it took me a while to warm up to Elliott’s style. Everything starts out as your standard epic fantasy archetype: We have a country at war with a mysterious, non-human race, while said country also is at the brink of a succession war on the inside. The main characters are stereotypes at first, but they soon turn into more. That and tons of religious background, but doubtlessly great worldbuilding make for a little bit of a slow start and it made me realize how long it’s been since I started reading The Wheel of Time & Co. since I’ve been a little ‘out’ of epic fantasy on the big scale.

Again, before I get all the Elliott fans ranting and raving at my utterly deluded judgement – this is just a personal thing. I’m not much of the worldbuilding type, but more of a plot- and character-oriented reader so what gets me hooked is an intriguing character and there my loves, I damn-well can’t complain!

I didn’t really care for Liath’s character much in the beginning, but by the time she meets certain other characters I loved her sections. Alain starts out as your typical ‘good, naive village boy’ character, but he undergoes some changes and gains some nifty abilities that make me want to read more. Oh and did I mention that I’m totally looking forward to getting to see more of Sanglant in the sequel, Prince of Dogs? Yeah, in the end I got hooked and intrigued and wanting for more – so guess where I’m stopping by to pick up at least the second one of this seven-volume series? You got it – Nym’s getting another book-fix today πŸ˜€

I guess I’m sort of finding my way back into epic fantasy, even though I have to admit I’m skipping some of the all too excessive worldbuilding to get things going.Β  Does that tell you anything about my writing style? You bet.

YES! HURT ME MORE!

Yeah, I’m getting good at taking critique 8)

Especially if people of awesome point out things I’ve been meaning to work on anyway and then they tell me exactly what is wrong with it.

I love my critters.

Thanks guys for accepting my alternative methods of personal fulfilment 8)

I am mighty!

Hahaha, thanks to Sira for showing me this πŸ˜‰

Ever down about your writing? Having a bad day? Need an ego boost?

Click here

but only if you have your speakers on πŸ˜‰

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Yay for progress :D

In the end, I really had a blast with this chapter and yes, I finally finished it today πŸ˜€

There was action and dialogue and plot-twists and characters with rampant personality issues (yes, we all love those). Got some really nice plot- and character development here πŸ˜€

That was really fun to write πŸ˜€

Let’s hear it for the awesomeness of complete rewrites!