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Diplomacy of Wolves: Book 1 of the Secret Texts Paperback – November 1, 1998

4.2 out of 5 stars 61 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Secret Texts Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Book 1 of the Secret Texts series is set in a world considerably more urban and urbane than traditional fantasy quest epics. Dirigible balloons ("airibles") coexist with Machiavellian plotting, Borgia-like malevolence, and deadly family rivalry resembling that of the Montagues and Capulets in Romeo and Juliet. There's magic, too, forbidden but still furtively used: Each clan has its concealed corps of "Wolves," black magicians who conduct cruel sacrifices and may become physically monstrous from spell backlash. Young heroine Kait is a diplomat trainee and secretly a shapeshifter--that is, accursed and marked for death if ever exposed. After a horrific clash of wizardry and assassination that almost wipes out her clan, she takes ship in search of the ancient Mirror of Souls, which according to legend can bring back the dead. But legends may be booby-trapped: Kait and other characters become guided by helpful spirit voices, gods with their own agenda and no love of humanity, and the Mirror's real function may be altogether different. Meanwhile, a long-dead sorcerer who opposed the gods with his own white-magic cult awaits rebirth. The magic and its transforming side effects are exhilaratingly horrid; the novel ends with a whopping cliffhanger. --David Langford, Amazon.co.uk

From Booklist

In a well-depicted fantasy world, Kait Galweigh, a young noblewoman and diplomat, discovers a sinister plot by both human and magical forces against her family. Unfortunately, she can defeat it only by using her own powers, which are considered so accursed that her kin would kill her on the spot if she revealed them. She has to flee for her life, with demons pursuing her, friends turning into foes and vice-versa, and intrigues multiplying at almost every turn of a page. In spite of its comparatively conventional development and being the first volume of yet another fantasy saga, The Secret Texts, this is absorbing reading. The action is brisk, the characters are--as we have come to expect from Lisle--offbeat, the realistic detail does not tilt overboard into grunge, and the villains are really villainous. Definitely a page turner, certain to please Lisle's established fans, it is also an excellent work with which to make first contact with a fantasy writer who deserves greater repute. Roland Green

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Product Details

  • Series: Secret Texts (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Aspect (November 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446673951
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446673952
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,168,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Holly Lisle has been writing fiction professionally since 1991, when she sold FIRE IN THE MIST, the novel that won the Compton Crook Award for best first novel. She has to date published more than thirty novels and several comprehensive writing courses. She is currently working on the second book in her Cadence Drake series.

Holly had an ideal childhood for a writer...which is to say, it was filled with foreign countries and exotic terrains, alien cultures, new languages, the occasional earthquake, flood, or civil war, and one story about a bear, which follows:

"So. Back when I was ten years old, my father and I had finished hunting ducks for our dinner and were walking across the tundra in Alaska toward the spot on the river where we'd tied our boat. We had a couple miles to go by boat to get back to the Moravian Children's Home, where we lived.

"My father was carrying the big bag of decoys and the shotgun; I was carrying the small bag of ducks.

"It was getting dark, we could hear the thud, thud, thud of the generator across the tundra, and suddenly he stopped, pointed down to a pie-pan sized indentation in the tundra that was rapidly filling with water, and said, in a calm and steady voice, "That's a bear footprint. From the size of it, it's a grizzly. The fact that the track is filling with water right now means the bear's still around."

"Which got my attention, but not as much as what he said next.

" 'I don't have the gun with me that will kill a bear,' he told me. 'I just have the one that will make him angry. So if we see the bear, I'm going to shoot him so he'll attack me. I want you to run to the river, follow it to the boat, get the boat back home, and tell everyone what happened.'

"The rest of our walk was very quiet. He was, I'm sure, listening for the bear. I was doing my damnedest to make sure that I remembered where the boat was, how to get to it, how to start the pull-cord engine, and how to drive it back home, because I did not want to let him down.

"We were not eaten by a bear that night...but neither is that walk back from our hunt for supper a part of my life I'll ever forget.

"I keep that story in mind as I write. If what I'm putting on paper isn't at least as memorable as having a grizzly stalking my father and me across the tundra while I was carrying a bag of delicious-smelling ducks, it doesn't make my cut."

Holly Lisle

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Bear with me and let me give my bottom-line advice right now : The trilogy of The Secret Texts is a must read for anybody looking for great adventure, exotic settings and endearing characters. And if, like myself, you're curious about the genre but don't care about elves, goblins and traditional wizards, don't worry: Ms. Lisle's Secret Texts will provide you fantasy, but with an edge. Forget the elves and meet the Scarred; trade bearded wizards for dangerously powerful Dragons and cunning Wolves; and expect no damsel in distress : the heroine, Kait Galweigh, can be a tough - and deadly - cookie.
What has impressed me first in these three books is the setting. I finished this serie with the impression that Matrin was real and that, given the chance, I could find my way in it: this is what I call impressive worldbuilding. Matrin also includes very distinct territories inhabited by all kinds of different (you could say esthetically challenged but very functional) people. Those features alone would make it worth the trip, but what makes Matrin all the more interesting is that there is a frightful explanation for these variations. No, you can't blame it on the weather...
The characterization of the Falcon's and the Dragon's distinct magics is also admirably rigorous: You can't have nothing if you don't give anything first, and Ms. Lisle has given the Falcons and the Dragons drastically different ways of respecting this principle in the use of their magic. The result is magic you can make sense of; no annoying deus ex machina in Matrin's magical systems, and no offense done to the reader's intelligence.
As for the characters, well, I liked Kait and Ry, of course. But Ms. Lisle's Secret Texts are filled with endearing second roles.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The person who sent this book to me commented that it was "brutal," which made me wonder what, exactly, I was getting myself into. I've read other books by Holly Lisle before and while I wouldn't classify any of them as brutal, I would classify them as dark, and I could easily see how she might cross over that line. It is, after all, but a short step from dark to brutal.

I suppose that, in a way, she was right. There were parts that, taken on their own, I would likely classify as brutal, but I don't think that the book as a whole qualifies. It is, however, definitely a dark fantasy; one in which no excuses are made and evil is given almost as much attention as good. This is not a typical fantasy book.

I think, though, that is a lot of its appeal. It was almost refreshing to read a book that was unapologetically dark, one that did not necessarily offer hope of a brighter tomorrow. It certainly isn't the type of book I would want to read all the time, but it did make a nice change of pace from my normal reading habits.

In <u>Diplomacy of Wolves</u>, Lisle weaves a world full of forbidden magic and intrigue, yet one with so much detail and thought that it seems real. Lisle is a talented world-builder, creating a believable place with many cultures and a solid history. Into it, she puts well-developed characters involved in complex, detailed plot that draws the reader in.

All in all, I would say that <u>Diplomacy of Wolves</u> is a very strong, well-written book.

The one thing that I had a problem with was part of the characterization of Kait, one of the main characters. For the most part, she is well-developed, with both flaws and strengths, and is actually a rather likeable character.
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By A Customer on November 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
On the planet Matrin, four centuries of bitter fighting between the houses of Dokteerak and Galweigh appear to be finally over with the pending wedding of an individual from each side. While attending the nuptials, Kait Galweigh overhears a treacherous plan that will eradicate her family. In spite of her efforts to save her kin, the plan works, leaving the Galweighs decimated. Kait manages to escape.

Heeding a voice telepathically talking inside her head, Kait travels to a remote area of the planet, seeking the mystical Mirror of Souls, which has awakened after a millennium. On her trek, Kait is followed by an unknown enemy, who plan to add her death to their body count. As Kait struggles to survive, she learns that she has the shape-shifting ability of the detested and feared werewolf. With the help of one of her kind, Kait battles for her life as the beginning of a war of magic threatens to destroy her home planet.

DIPLOMACY OF WOLVES is a great opening gamut to Holly Lisle's "Secret texts" trilogy. The story line brilliantly mixes politics, betrayal, and magic into a coherent, fun to read speculative fiction novel. Matrin feels like a real planet and the magical aspects come across as if they are a form of physics. However, what makes Ms. Lisle's novel appear to be the tale that takes her to the top of the genre (if justice prevails) is Kait, an enchanting, complex, and genuine person, who will steal the souls of readers.

Harriet Klausner 11/8/98
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