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on October 18, 2001
I tried to think of another book this one was like, but the nearest
comparison that came to mind was the movie Ladyhawk. Wolf Hunt
combines a medieval setting and characters with Breton fantasy to
create a very satisfying read.
Based on the Lai de Bisclavret by the 12th century poet Marie de
France, Ms. Bradshaw takes the theme of the shape changer and
populates the story with interesting characters. The heroine, Marie
Penthieve of Chalandrey, is the inmate of a convent when she hears
that her brother is dead. This means that she is the heir to
Chalandrey, a rich manor in a strategic area between Brittany and
Normady. Her father's overlord is Duke Robert of Normandy. but she
is tricked away from her convent by the men of Duke Hoel of Brittany.
Fleeing from her captures she falls into the hands of outlaws and is
rescued by Tiarnan, Duke Hoel's best loved knight. Marie is
captivated by Tiarnan, but he is affianced to the beautiful Lady
Eline.
Shortly after his marriage though, Tiarnan disappears and Lady Eline
comforts herself for her loss by marrying a penniless knight named
Alain. Meanwhile there appears in the village a wolf with more than
natural abilities, a wolf that Alain is determined to hunt down and
destroy.
Marie, in the meantime, is trying to think of a way to prevent
herself from becoming a bone of contention between Duke Robert and
Duke Hoel, mourning Tiarnan and keeping at bay the attentions of
Alain's older and more honorable cousin.
Then Alain sends to Duke Hoel and suggests that he might enjoy
hunting the extraordinary wolf that is stalking Tiarnan's former
lands.
This is a book that can keep a reader up all night. The harshness of
Medieval life is not overplayed, but it is also not downplayed. The
character of Marie who is both intelligent and forceful contrasts
with the character of Eline whose unthinking, selfish actions set in
motion the events leading to her own downfall.
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on August 16, 2002
I've run the gauntlet on werewolf fiction, and picked up the novel on that angle rather than on the historical richness of it. I'm overly familiar with the "snowbound castle with monster unleashed" or "pitchfork bearing peasants chase down monster" tales done, redone, and done again. With the Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter series rolling along in general popularity, werewolves have taken another turn, such as they have in the novel Bitten. It's not a turn that this reader, specifically, is fond of. Wolf Hunt has very strong characters in the sense that they are both believable, different, entertaining, and hold fast to their own morals and ideals. Anita and Bitten tend to be more trendy and modern, but also lean into being more than a little promiscuous, leading into sex scenes which come across as more of a dark fantasy put on paper. Wolf Hunt, on the other hand, is a tale very well spun, and although it lacks the white knuckle-page turning of Anita or Bitten, it has much more credibility and more solid characters. I wasn't aware of the poem it was based on, but there is also a folklore story which tells much the same, tragic tale which was expanded upon in this book. This lends to the feel of history I got from it. You get a very real, enjoyable sense of history through Wolf Hunt, and as mentioned, being in on the secret in no way spoils the fun. This book is one I would recommend to friends, both male and female alike. It is, simply put, a very good and enthralling story which will stick with me and be reread. While this is a love story, it is not a romance novel. By romance, I think someone like Krinard with her werewolf romance novels such as Prince of Shadows. While there is an element of love here, it isn't the usual template of a romance novel (we've all seen them, the sorts with the male portion of the story looking dashing and often shirtless, or perhaps a beautiful lady in a swoon over him on the cover.) Here, you have a generally solid feel for the love, love betrayed, and other mirrors of the every day, human condition. The love story does move on somewhat quickly, and the lead female character does fall in love in a hurry, but it doesn't go too far out on a limb to become utterly unbelievable. I also throughly enjoyed the feel for what life may very well have been like in medieval Europe, and the day to day lives which are glossed over in dry accounts of history found in actual history textbooks. This gave a sense of what family, social, and day to day living might have been. This is, by far, a better read in my opinion than the newer trends in werewolf fiction out there. You have more solidity to character and story, sense of history, a tale which holds itself together better, and don't have frivolous sex scenes used as garnish to sell the book.
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on February 19, 2006
This was the first book by Gillian Bradshaw that I read and I have subsequently searched out several others by her - all surprisingly different from this one!

Warning - there are plot spoilers below!

The plot is that of a young girl, Marie, who is kidnapped and ends up by finding her loyalties torn - those who kidnapped her are her father's enemies, but they treat her so well that she is unsure of the right path. She initially escapes from her kidnappers and is very nearly raped and worse by some wood people she comes across - she is rescued by a strange man, Tiernan. We hear of Marie's introduction to the court of Duke Hoel and Marie discovers Tiernan is engaged to Elin. As a reader I decided Tiernan would probably come to his senses before the wedding and realise Marie is the woman for him, but this didn't happen. In fact he loves Elin very much, and Marie has to watch them marry and try to subdue her feelings.

At this point the focus of the story changes and we start to follow more of the story of Tiernan. He is a very interesting character - and he has a secret. This was fairly easy to guess as the story progresses, and it was more interesting to see how the characters around him dealt with this. His new wife Elin is repulsed when she discovers her husband sometimes turns into a wolf and she schemes to have him disposed of - not by death, but by ensuring he remains trapped in his wolf form.

It is here that Marie returns. The section where Tiernan is a wolf is brilliantly written - his part human but mostly animal intellect and senses is very evocative. We begin to understand what it's like for him - the freedom of his wolf form, but the knowledge that there is more out there for him as a man. It's brilliantly written, especially the section where Duke Hoel is hunting him, with Elin's new husband Alain the chief protagonist - he wants his rival the wolf to be disposed of for good.

Marie's gentleness and understanding as she gradually realises that the wolf that Duke Hoel has as his tame pet is actually Tiernan is great to read. Tiernan is rescued from his wolf form and returns to his village after an absence of a year, eventually ending up with Marie.

I understand that this book is a reworking of a poem, but I didn't know that until after finishing it. I felt the book worked excellently - it wasn't too predictable, the characters were flawed and interesting, and the description of life in Mediaeval times worked really well. This is an excellent read with a gentle love story and a gripping plot.
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on February 5, 2002
When I pick up this book, I expected the typical Medieval romance and was pleasently surprised to find a much deeper book. It was interesting to find a historical fiction based on an actual song from the time period the book is about. The book's hero, Marie, deals with questions of honor and family when she is kidnapped by a neighboring duke in persuit of her land. She is forced to contemplate whether her loyalties should lie with the family who never loved her or the kidnappers who treated her kindly and fairly even when her lands were no longer at stake.
The two female main characters are a study in contrast. Marie isn't quick to judge and holds honor highly. The beautiful Eline marries for land and is quick to condemn her husband for his faults.
This book was fast paced and always interesting, it never got bogged down in slow parts and keep you reading until the very end. I would recommend it to anyone who thinks historical fiction boring to show them how wrong they are!
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on April 21, 2014
I have read and reread this book number of times, since it was first released. Gullian Bradshaw is one of my favorite authors and in my opinion, "The Wolf Hunt" is one of her best books. It has just the right mix of reality, masterfully portrayed by the author, and fantasy that she makes entirely believable. I recommend this book to any one who likes a good historical novel with a little twist. What I value about "The Wolf Hunt" the most is that it is not just an entertainment, that you enjoy, but then forget. The characters are so alive and complex, that they never seize to exist in your imagination. You keep wondering, what happened to them next, how they did they live their lives.
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on April 28, 2015
I enjoyed this story very much! It is the second of Gillian Bradshaw's books I have read and I will definitely read another. These stories are a little different; not really fantasy but not really historical fiction in the vein of say a Bernard Cornwell novel either. I took off one star for poor editing which I also did in Island of Ghosts.
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on January 31, 2002
A scrupulous and compelling work of historical fiction spiced with a dash of fairy tale, this wonderful Gillian Bradshaw novel is in a category of its own - medieval magic realism. Based on a 12th Century "lay" (or troubadour romance) by Marie de France, the story presents a fantastical premise within a gripping realistic conext and ponders the very human notions of honor, betrayal, identity and longing. The shapeshifting abilities of the hero, Breton huntsman-knight Tiarnan, is treated like any addiction; he does it for the rush, the thrill of heightened sensory awareness. And, like most addictions, he's tried and failed to stop. But his secret passion has unexpected consequences for his silly and scheming new bride, her ambitious former suitor and the fate of his entire estate and the people who love and respect him. There's also a sly nod to the "Beauty And The Beast" legend, although in this case, a beauty is responsible for transforming the hero into a beast, while a somewhat lesser beauty (but a much more valuable woman) restores him. Bradshaw ingeniously invents a character named Marie (in hommage to the poetess herself) to quietly assume the role of heroine, but in other respects sticks close to the plot of the original lay. Medieval court life is brought to vivid, robust life, while issues of betrayal, redemption and, yes, love, are beautifully handled. An irresistible story that makes for a delightful read.
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on January 31, 2002
A scrupulous and compelling work of historical fiction spiced with a dash of fairy tale, this wonderful Gillian Bradshaw novel is in a category of its own - medieval magic realism. Based on a 12th Century "lay" (or troubadour romance) by Marie de France, the story presents a fantastical premise within a gripping realistic conext and ponders the very human notions of honor, betrayal, identity and longing. The shapeshifting abilities of the hero, Breton huntsman-knight Tiarnan, is treated like any addiction; he does it for the rush, the thrill of heightened sensory awareness. And, like most addictions, he's tried and failed to stop. But his secret passion has unexpected consequences for his silly and scheming new bride, her ambitious former suitor and the fate of his entire estate and the people who love and respect him. There's also a sly nod to the "Beauty And The Beast" legend, although in this case, a beauty is responsible for transforming the hero into a beast, while a somewhat lesser beauty (but a much more valuable woman) restores him. Bradshaw ingeniously invents a character named Marie (in hommage to the poetess herself) to quietly assume the role of heroine, but in other respects sticks close to the plot of the original lay. Medieval court life is brought to vivid, robust life, while issues of betrayal, redemption and, yes, love, are beautifully handled. An irresistible story that makes for a delightful read.
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on December 23, 2003
Tiarnan of Talensac is a happy man. He has a profitable estate in Brittany with loyal peasants. He has the admiration of his liege lord for being an outstanding warrior. He is recently married to the beautiful Eline who is in love with him and with the idea of being the lady of his manor. He has rescued the stubbornly honorable Marie Penthiovre after her escape from his lord's knights. Tiarnan also has a secret. He is a werewolf.
I was absolutely enthralled by this book. Even if it were simply a historical novel of medevial France, it would be worth reading for its vivid descriptions of everyday life. But it has the fascinating twist of a hero "addicted" to his werewolf life. Tiarnan loves the woods and lands he lives on, and eagerly awaits the times when he can shed his humanity and experience his woods with the heightened senses of the wolf. His hearing and sense of smell are sharper, his strength and agility are increased, and these sensations draw him repeatedly to absent himself from his suspicious wife. Tiarnan is a conscientious landholder, a loyal subject of his Duke, and a dutiful husband, but his heart belongs to the times he spends as a wolf.
Eventually Eline, and her disappointed former suitor, discover Tiarnan's secret and self-righteously betray him. Tiarnan is no longer free to move between his human and wolf existances. He is trapped in his wolf's body, and only then begins to realize what he has lost with his humanity. His thought patterns are in disarray, and he struggles to reclaim any hold on language. He is nearly at the mercy of instinctive behavior rather than conscious choice. He ends up again serving his liege lord, but as a faithful "tame" wolf, and seems destined to remain so unless the grieving Marie, who had quietly loved him, continues to notice just how unusual this strange wolf is...
Gillian Bradshaw has taken a werewolf character, and has given him a fascinating twist. I loved experiencing Tiarnan's fascination with his wolf's life, and his grinding despair over his lost humanity. I also enjoyed the tragically weak "villains" as well as the flawed heroine. This is the best novel I have read by this talented author!
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on September 19, 2011
The Wolf Hunt is... hard to categorize. It's definitely a romance, though the romance isn't the main plot. It's somewhat a fantasy, since fantasy things are going on, but everything is taking place in a historical setting. It might be a smidgen horror, but it's not really a horror either. I deem it a historical romantic fantasy.

It's about werewolves, which you may or may not guess from the cover, but it's also about ladies and secrets and how sweet situations that result from revenge reap bitter rewards, and bitter situations that result from acts of honor can reap more delicious results. That doesn't ruin the ending, oddly enough.

My main problem with this, and this isn't a spoiler either because a thousand marriages happen, is that the wrong one gets married. I ended the book frowning. It was a fun ride, thrilling and rewarding, but the ending was not satisfying at all. Usually this happens to me when there's an ending-that-isn't-an-ending. I've talked about this phenomenon before, where authors end a book somewhere after the climax of the story without actually ending the story in an attempt to be edgy and clever. This was not the problem, Bradshaw tied everything off nicely. She just did it wrong.

If a humble reader can say such a thing.
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