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The Wolf King (Legends of the Wolves, Book 3) Mass Market Paperback – August 28, 2001

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Editorial Reviews Review

Alice Borchardt writes at least as well as her sister does--and her sister is Anne Rice. The Wolf King is the third in her series of alternate history novels with shape-shifting protagonists, following The Silver Wolf and Night of the Wolf. Reading the first two adds to the reader's understanding of the characters, though it's not required.

Borchardt mixes fantasy, horror, romance, suspense, action-adventure, political intrigue, and realistic evocation of Italy in the late eighth century. She uses lyrical descriptive passages to set scenes and immerse the reader in her characters' experiences. When a runaway Saxon slave rescues Regeane, the silver wolf, from a deadly blizzard, "the wind was howling around him and the world was sinking into a cold, gray blueness as the sun set somewhere beyond the clouds." He wraps her in his flea-harboring bearskin, reflecting that "this girl didn't have nearly the healthy temperature he did; maybe the little bastards would die. At any rate, the extermination of his vermin companions was the only benefit he was likely to derive from this particular adventure." He's wrong about that.

Regeane is Maeniel's mate (he's the long-lived werewolf leader of the pack, whose earlier life was featured in Night of the Wolf). Once thawed, Regeane confronts a demented abbot and a gang of (literal) cutthroats to save him. The werewolves and the Saxon head for Geneva to pledge allegiance to Charlemagne, who's about to cross the Alps to challenge King Desederius of the Lombards for control of northern and central Italy.

Soon Maeniel is in Desederius's territory and in danger. Regeane follows, despite his prohibition. They're fated to reencounter Regeane's sniveling cousin Hugo, who seeks revenge. He has become host to a powerful bear spirit who wants the wolves for his own purposes. The new Hugo has a lot in common with the Steve Martin/Lily Tomlin character in All of Me; he provides comic leavening to the sometimes grim action. Other returning characters include Pope Hadrian's tough, practical, but vulnerable mistress Lucilla; her protégé, the singer Dulcinia; and the ageless werewolf earth-mother Matrona.

The Wolf King's almost-too-rich plot lines, characters, and mixed Teutonic, Roman, and Christian mythic elements may overwhelm those new to Borchardt's alternate Dark Ages. The story also ends abruptly--leaving plenty of room for sequels. --Nona Vero --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Fans of Borchardt's two previous novels in this series (The Silver Wolf and Night of the Wolf) will welcome this latest action- and intrigue-filled installment that continues the saga of lady werewolf Regeane and her sworn shapeshifter mate, wolf-turned-man Maeniel, in Dark Ages Italy. In a cliffhanger opening, a runaway Saxon slave saves Regeane from death in an Alpine avalanche. When the two attempt to take refuge in a nearby monastery, they discover a mad abbot under the control of an invading demon spirit, the Bear, who leads a ragtag troop of bandits and monks turned zombies. Although they escape with Maeniel's help, the Bear follows, determined to possess a werewolf body and increase its power. Maeniel undertakes a mission from Charles (Charlemagne) to scout the geographical and political landscape ahead of the king's troops as Charles lays siege to Lombardy and its self-indulgent ruler, Desederius. In the meantime, Regeane's greedy cousin Hugo bargains with the Bear spirit and finds himself caught up in Desederius's plot to capture Maeniel. Fortunately, Regeane and the Saxon arrive in time to rescue him. Borchardt's strength, as usual, is her deeply researched setting, which brings alive the barbaric era after the fall of the Roman Empire. Newcomers to the series may have some difficulty keeping up with the present while wading through the extensive backstory, where characters' motivations sometimes seem more convenient to the plot than sensible. (Feb. 27)Forecast: Borchardt continues to carve out a viable writing career akin to that of her celebrated sister, Anne Rice--to whom the publisher still feels compelled to compare her, in its promo for The Wolf King--appealing as vigorously to the romance as to the horror market. (Borchardt received the 1997 Best Historical Romance Award from Romantic Times). With her continued crossover appeal, this novel (with foreign rights sold in Germany, Holland and the U.K.) should do well, full moon or not, despite its flaws.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey; Reissue edition (August 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345423658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345423658
  • Product Dimensions: 4 x 1.4 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
When I started reading the third novel in Alice Borchardt's werewolf series I assumed "The Wolf King" was a reference to Maeniel, the gray wolf, but by the end of the story I had concluded it really meant Charlemagne, the Frankish monarch who is in the early stages of creating the Holy Roman Empire. If "The Silver Wolf" was about Regeane and "Night of the Wolf" was about Maeniel, then "The Wolf King" is not simply about both characters but each of them in turn, along with several others. The narrative begins with a Saxon rescuing Regeane's body from a snowbank only to take refuge in an abbey where they have a deadly encounter with the "bear" spirit she crossed paths with in "The Silver Wolf." However, by the end of the story this conflict has not only ended in a totally unexpected way, but has given way to other concerns. The army of Charles is on the march to bring down the King of Lombardy and when Maeniel does reconnaissance he is captured and condemned to death, not only for being a spy but also a shapeshifter as well. But in the end it is the rush to rescue Lucilla that provides the final conclusion. But while "The Wolf King" ends up being somewhat episodic because of this approach, it remains a compelling story and the fact that no one character assumes the main role as in the previous pair of novels matters little.
I was happy to see the series return to the time of Charlemagne, mainly because it is a time period you do not usually come across in either historical or fantasy novels. My only complaint is that the details peculiar to that time are rather sparse.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By vampyredaemon "Laura" on April 11, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first read The Silver Wolf a while ago, and while the writing was expressive and wonderfully executed, the storyline was alright. I think Maeniel wasn't in enough of the scenes.
I picked up The Wolf King, third in the series, and finally decided to read it last week. Alice Borchardt's writing is, in my opinion, the type of writing you'd always be interested in because it's descriptive but far from boring. Although there are some mature, questionable scenes, her portrayal of the historical setting and characteristics of the time period is very accurate (almost to a fault because it gets quite graphic). That is why I enjoyed read The Wolf King so much, more than I thought I would.
While The Silver Wolf is good, The Wolf King is slightly better. I like how the story focused on other key characters as well (Hugo, Chiara, Hugo's guest, Lucilla, the Saxon) and interwove their stories to the main plotline. On the negative side, I really didin't like the just felt abrupt and a little vague. Overall though, the story was great with elements of fantasy and the supernatural. For any readers who liked The Silver Wolf, The Wolf King will not be a disappointment.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By caledon murray on March 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
"The Wolf King" is a good read but a little disappointing. It is more plot-driven than character-driven as compared with "The Silver Wolf" and "Night of the Wolf." I was hoping that Maeniel would have a more prominent role because he's one of the main characters; he almost just faded away near the end. Like the previous books, this one has loose ends -- a lot of situations by many minor characters are left unresolved. Hopefully, there's gonna be a 4th in the series.
Anyway, the story is exciting -- though it could do with a lot more interaction between Maeniel and Regeane. This book's also very light on the sex scenes..
And hey, what's with the title? Who is the Wolf King? Maeniel didn't really seem like a king here; he's more like Charlemagne's minion.
But overall, it's OK; could have been better, though, or maybe it's just me and my high expectations. But I still like the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Fred Camfield on September 29, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This novel is set in the time of Charlemagne (Charles the Great). In particular, it is during his invasion and conquest of Lombardy in the later 8th century. His grandfather, Charles Martel ("the Hammer"), had defeated the Saracens near Poitiers in 732, and again near Narbonne in 737. Charlemagne set out to create a Christian empire. The novel skips back and forth between characters and locations as various subplots run in parallel. It includes shape changers (wolf to man), spirits, church politics, petty kings and robber barons, and fratricide. Sexual content and violence give the novel a PG-13 rating.
Charles Martel's son, Pepin the Short, himself descended from Clovis I, had married Big Footed Bertha, daughter of the Count of Laon, also a descendent from Clovis I. He seized the throne from Childeric and formed an alliance between the Franks and the Pope. He was survived by two sons, Carloman II and Charlemagne. It was common practice during that time period to murder nephews in order to prevent rival claims on the throne (an alternative was to have them castrated or mutilated). When Carloman died, his widow fled to Lombardy with her two young sons to protect them from their uncle, and that becomes one of the sub-plots. History does not record what actually happened to the nephews other than the fact that they fell into Charlemagne's hands. It is known that he later forced his oldest son, Pepin the Hunchback, to take vows and become a monk.
On an historical note, Charlemagne had at least 20 children by various wives and mistresses. It is known that Charlemagne's son Louis the Pious, King of France, later deposed his nephew Bernard, at that time King of the Lombards, and had Bernard's eyes burned out.
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