Fight like a lady, or my review of Wolfblade

red border limited cropWolfblade (Hythrun Chronicles: Wolfblade Trilogy #1) 

by Jennifer Fallon

Publisher: Tor Fantasy

Publication Date: June 30th, 2004

Format Read: Kindle E-Book


Synopsis:

Marla Wolfblade of Hythria is determined to restore her family’s great name, but conspirators surround her: the Sorcerers’ Collective, the Patriots — even members of her own family. She must make sure her son Damin lives to be old enough to restore the Wolfblade name to its former glory.

Elezaar the Dwarf is a small man with big secrets — but that doesn’t matter to Marla Wolfblade. Her brother is the High Prince of Hythria, and, in this fiercely patriarchal society, her fate will be decided on his whim. She needs someone politically astute to guide her through the maze of court politics — and Elezaar the Dwarf knows more than he lets on.

As Elezaar teaches Marla the Rules of Gaining and Wielding Power, Marla starts on the road to becoming a tactician and a wily diplomat — but will that be enough to keep her son alive?

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4 star rating

Review:

Seems to me that everyone is obsessed with Game of Thrones. I don’t really understand it, but what really irks me is when Game of Thrones is the only fantasy story anyone knows, and so they compare all other fantasy stories to it. And yet, sometimes fantasy deserves the comparison. Wolfblade, for instance, is a good bet for the Game of Thrones fan still waiting for the 6th book. I find it somewhat superior, since Jennifer Fallon has written a book that holds all the political intrigue and scheming of GoT, minus the gratuitous sex and violence. This also makes it a better bet for younger readers (kind of).

Marla Wolfblade, younger sister of High Prince Lernen of Hythria, has one goal in life, like most naive sixteen-year-olds: she wants to marry the love of her life. Which, in the matter of most sixteen-year-olds, she decides nearly instantly is Nash Eaglespike, one of her brother’s warlords. Unfortunately for poor Marla, she has no actual understanding of her place in the extensive political maneuverings of Hythria. Her brother intends to sell her to the highest bidder, and to a man with enough military might to protect Lernen from a faction of dissatisfied nobles known as ‘the Patriots’. In addition, Lernen being a fairly raging homosexual, Marla is the only chance for an heir to Hythria. After being engaged to King Hablet of Fardohnya, leader of a rival nation just as likely to topple Lernen as support him, Marla is sent away to her relatives to be hidden away, with just one companion: the dwarf Elezaar, who is her only hope to navigating the insane politics of the court and (maybe) finding true love.

Important to note before reading is that this book is the first in a trilogy, and is a companion series to another trilogy, the Harshini Trilogy. This might not be my favorite book in the series, although it’s strengthened by the realisation that things get better.

I marvel at the complex political situation Fallon has laid out. Hythria is a land supposedly led by one High Prince, but in actuality governed by seven warlords, who have a system of checks and balances against the Prince in place, but are overall supposed to swear fealty to him. There’s also the Sorcerer’s Collective, which has very little in the way of actual sorcerers, but quite a lot of political might when it comes down to it, since they are supposed to be arbitrators between the Warlords and the High Prince.

Since Lernen is such a tool (OK, pause here. No one judges him for being a homosexual. They judge him for indulging in a variety of sadistic pleasures with underage boys, and also for being a total idiot when it comes to politics), the Patriots are all in favor of killing him and making Cyrus Eaglespike the King, mostly because he’s a distant relation and easily controlled by his wife Alija, who is also second-in-command of the Sorcerer’s Collective and has some actual magic. They make their intentions clear fairly early on, by murdering Lernen’s friend and co-sadist. The Royalists don’t like Lernen any better, but they acknowledge that Cyrus would be as much of a tool, only controlled by his power-hungry wife. So this group, led by Sorcerer’s Collective leader Kagan, has pretty much put all faith in Marla to have a baby boy who can grow up and be all that Hythria desires in terms of High Princes. Of course, they’re not above pulling some strings to make sure she marries a ‘suitable’ Warlord.

Complicated, right? Whew. But, when it comes down to it, this is a book about Marla Wolfblade, and her transition from whiny, naive sixteen-year-old to actual political player. Crucial to the transition is Elezaar, a slave dwarf who has some beef with the Patriots and loyalty to his young mistress. He teaches her his Rules about Gaining and Holding Power, and over the course of the book she gradually understands how to put them into place. By the end, the scene is pretty much set for an epic political battle. NOT between the men–basically, all the men are tools of varying degrees–but between two women, Alija Eaglespike and Marla Wolfblade, over whose son takes the throne and the lengths each will go to put him there.

Of course, because this is book one of three, the epic battle does NOT happen in this book. Or in the next one. They are, however, intense and amazing books, which I would highly recommend for the average fantasy lover.

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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.