on February 19, 2011
Wolfsangel is a fairly brutal tale, based on the Norse mythology of the end-of-the-world wolf Fenris, and personalised by twin brothers who are caught on opposite sides of the godly struggle.
As suggested in the title of this review, Wolfsangel appeared right up my alley; epic fantasy of mythological proportions, violent werewolf battles, and just enough human element to form a connection.
M.D. Lachlan kept it up for most of the novel. However, perhaps under the mistaken assumption that one must fill a single volume novel (I assume and hope anyway) with all the various pointless characters that traditional multivolume series have, Wolfsangel's plot eventually buckles under unrememberable names and loosely linked scenarios.
Thats not to say Wolfsangel didn't have its good parts, the background mythology was cool, the rivalry and suspense around the twin brothers was well-played, unfortunately these good parts were.... diluted by the weaknesses. It seemed like we were going to get a well honed story of love triangles, empires falling and our heroes stepping up to their destines, instead I felt like the plot was mostly a collection of semi-random happenings that eventually got us to the point where the conclusion happened.
I realise that perhaps if I sat down and memorised names and put some real effort into keeping track of places, the story might technically be more complete, but I have a philosophy that if a novel requires effort beyond what you're willing to give, then it has failed.
Wolfsangel had a lot of potential, and perhaps more is to come from Lachlan. Based on this work, I will only be finding out if I suddenly grow a buttload more reading time.
on June 4, 2010
M.D. Lachlan's Wolfsangel is not your usual werewolf horror story. Nor it is one of the glut of supernatural teen romances that have flooded the market of late. But don't let that put you off ;)
Lachlan has crafted an amazing story of love, and betrayal and that ever elusive search for true self, all set to the backdrop of ancient Norse life and mythology.
Gone are your "infected" werewolves of the Wolfman and Stephanie Myers and instead Lachlan gives us something new, and more importantly something fresh.
When a Norse king kidnaps two children he sets in motion an event that will bring gods to their knees. Vali, the prince and Felig, the wolfman, couldn't be more different, but when both fall in love with the farm girl Adelisa they set forth on an amazing journey literally dripping with gore.
Wolfsangel is fast paced, well written and uses a great mix of modern language sprinkled with more archaic usage to great effect. Lachlan paints beautiful and believable landscapes of frozen tundras and bustling market towns and unlike some, manages to people them with characters you can actually believe.
Don't let anyone tell you this is paint-by-numbers hack and slash fantasy, they couldn't be further from the truth. M.D. Lachlan's Wolfsangel is the perfect blend of horror-fantasy that makes lesser writers weep with envy.
One warning, don't read this late at night with the lights out. Nightmares guaranteed.
on December 7, 2011
Even in the largest of Viking villages, there isn't much to do. Farm, fish, train, raid, repeat, and even the Norse Gods get bored sometimes. And what better cure for a god's boredom than having themselves born into a human body and forgetting who and what they are? As long as Odin, all father, all hater, and ultimate God of War, welcomes his dead warriors to Valhalla, most Vikings don't really care what he does in his spare time.
Wolfsangel is a brutal and visceral retelling of ancient Norse mythology, and Lachlan had me hooked in the first chapter with teeth didn't let go until the final page. Exquisitely violent, this is not a book for the faint of heart. I don't think Odin would accept anything less.
In desperate need of a male heir, King Authun follows a prophecy to towards a child rumored to be stolen from the Gods. Instead, he finds identical infant twins, and their scarred mother. The Witches of the mountains allow Authun to keep one child, and they keep the mother and the other child for themselves. One boy is raised as Prince and then ward, the other is raised by the wolfmen in the wilderness.
One child, Vali, is raised to be Authun's heir. Much to the disappointment of his future father-in-law Forkbeard, Vali shows little interest in politics or warfare, especially due to the events surrounding his first raid. Vali would prefer to spend time with visiting traders, learning about far away lands and languages. Even worse, he's in love with the farmgirl Adisla, who is most certainly not his betrothed. When the village faces danger from an invading force of wolfmen, Forkbeard offers Vali a choice: Return with the wolfman, dead or alive, or watch as Adisla is sacrificed to Odin.
Meanwhile, the other child, Feileg, has been raised in the wilderness, trained to walk that delicate line between human and animal. Living and hunting with the wolves, Feileg forgot long ago what it means to be human. And then he meets a girl.
It's not much of a spoiler to tell you the brothers do eventually meet. As one brother reaches for his humanity, the other slowly loses his, dragged into magics he can not control. I couldn't help but wonder of the symbolism of their twin-ness, perhaps they are two halves of the same person, two mutually exclusive decisions or actions. Don't get me wrong, their story will leave you marked, but if that's all I talked about it would be easy to think that's all this book is about. I got two words for you: Witches and Werewolves.
Lachlan could have taken the easy route. He could have simply said "the witches had powerful magic" and left it at that. But no. He takes us deep into the recesses of their minds, into their starvation rituals, deprivations, poisons and near death experiences in their attempts to speak with the gods. Who could expect a God of Death to deign to speak with you if you're not willing to meet him half way? When starvation and occasional drowning is involved, there's a fine line between enlightenment and insanity. Your landing spot on that line depends on how badly you need to speak to the gods. The fact that it's not exactly magic, but more mind manipulation made it all the more fascinating to me. Suffice to say, I was completely blown away by Lachlan's witches.
And then of course, there is the werewolf. Trapped in a pattern of ultimate transformation and suffering, his is the most horrific path of all. Maybe the witches have some true magic after all.
A story about the beginning of the end, Wolfsangel is a story in which not even the gods have free will. If you enjoy historical fantasy, if you don't mind a little terror in the night follow by a vicious twist, Wolfsangel is a book for you. Previous knowledge of Norse mythology not needed, Lachlan offers up plenty of cultural history and mythology through the dialog between characters, but never so much at any one time that if feels forced or stilted. Wolfsangel was an exceptional read for me, and I can't wait to read the second book in the series, Fenrir.
on May 20, 2015
While it started out as a very good adventure; it quickly devolved into something other than sword and sorcery. It became dark and miserable and entered the modern trend of fascination with "tedious monotony of inescapable gloom".
Spoiler Alter: I only read the book because the author does have an excellent grasp of viking age culture and at first the political twists and turns were interesting. It's too bad he then decided to make the book into a self looping sequel of induced gloom fest. There are few to no hero's to really cheer for and it's a bit much of the modern trend to "kill off" all the main characters. If you enjoy seeing good characters trapped in inescapable dilemma, this is the book for you.
The following books in the series follow up on this mental crush; but really, there's no AIDA to keep following the story...unless you are a true fan of tragedy.
on July 25, 2011
set against the rich tapestry of pagan Northwestern Europe/Scandinavia (with occasional Christian converts loitering here and there) in what I assume to be the 9th century: ancestral Norwegians, Danes, Sámi/Lapp people (particularly shamans), a duplicitous Obotrite/West Slavic merchant from the Baltic region; in addition to briefly alluding to Anglo-Saxons and Celts to the west, and Franks to the south. As the storyline unfolds, while taking unexpected twists and turns on the way to a tragic culmination, we see the mortals playing out their respective destinies in the timeless struggle between larger forces anthropomorphized as Odin vs. Loki. As far as I can tell, the British author of this page-turner offers uncompromised, somewhat realistic glimpses into Norsemen's beliefs/customs, life on farmsteads as well as in the thriving trade/port town of Haithabyr/Hedeby ('Heathyard'), warfare and their seafaring craft, victory feasting and flyting in mead/ale halls (skol!), so forth. Gorehounds will possibly salivate over the vivid depictions of raging berserkers, brutal raids and battles, with resultant specifics of terrible bloodshed.
Equally significant, however, is the looming presence of applied witchcraft and rune magic tapped into via trance-induced visions that prolonged physical (and mental) ordeals (e.g., drowning in mire: ch. 21 & 23) confer.
"Magical thinking can appear close to insanity but, like some forms of insanity, it has aspects of genius. The first witches had known Odin had taken up female magic. He alone among men was a master of the women's art -- Seid, as it was called" [compare w/ the Irish 'Sidhe' and Sanskrit 'Siddhi': "supernatural/suprahuman capabilites"] (p. 167).
"The light seemed to ripple and he became aware of the shape again. It seemed to tremble from the skin of the drum, to hover, to shake, and pulse in front of his eyes. Destinies, he knew, were set at birth...The legend of the Norns, the three women [sisters: Urd, Verthandi, and Skuld] who sit beneath the world tree [Yggdrasil] spinning out the fate [wyrd] of each human, had been impressed upon him since his earliest years...[T]hat awful shape, something between a knife and a needle, to cut the thread of his life and restitch it, something hooked and sharp yet incorporeal...It was a rune...The Wolfsangel ['Wolf's Hook']. He now seemed just an expression of its meaning" (pp. 170-1).
There are some strong female characters with distinct, albeit in certain cases episodic, roles as well, such as the young wench Adisla who mesmerizes the protagonist twins, powerful witch Gullveig in a girl child's fragile body, Celtic slave woman Saitada (named after the goddess of grief), healers (-seers?) Ma Disa and Ma Jodis. Recommended while awaiting the sequel!
on November 22, 2011
Wolfsangel is a re-imagining of the werewolf rooted more in Norse mythology than the modern werewolf canon. The setting is medieval Norway during the Viking Age. Fittingly, Lachlan's tale is savage and darkly poetic.
In addition to his fresh look at werewolves, Lachlan re-imagines witches. And again, in doing so, he goes back to the source. His witches are largely based on real world beliefs. Magic is all based off self-deprivation and self-torture and pushing yourself to the brink of insanity. It allows Lachlan to play with around with surrealism, much as many fantasy authors do with dreams.
Unfortunately, Wolfsangel fails to live up to its very impressive potential. The plotting is jerky and the characterization lurching. Constant shifts back and forth in time exacerbate the problems. The book is primarily told through the POV of three main characters, but I found I had a hard time caring about them. The personalities and motivations of two change dramatically (and rather abruptly), and the other gets short shrift. A lot of it was the kind of thing I just can't put my finger on or adequately articulate; I've read books in which the author made these kind of lurches work, but Lachlan just doesn't pull it off for me in Wolfsangel. It by no means ruined my enjoyment of the book, but it did prevent it from being great.
on February 5, 2012
I bought this book up for a late summer read not really knowing what to expect. I figured there were Vikings and werewolves, so it should at least be fun. This book blew me away. The scenes really come alive off the pages. The scope of adventure is incredible; as I read it I could just feel myself on the shore in the northern sunlight, a frontier like land that hasn't yet succumbed to modern urbanization, and caught up in fate. The story really takes off with plenty of twists and turns, and the characters are great. I very much enjoyed the camaraderie that developed between Vali, Feileg, and Bragi. The battles are great too. This book is violent and bloody, so be careful if you don't have a strong stomach or if you don't like things to get a little intense/scary every now and then. I initially shrugged off the comments about the book being dark and violent, as I had spent the earlier part of the summer reading Thomas Harris novels, but I was indeed in for a surprise with how intense the action was. The way magic is portrayed, and its effects on the mind, are also superbly written. M.D. Lachlan has written for us the most awesome realization of what Norse mythology is all about. I have read it twice now, and I am about to read the sequel (Fenrir, which, by the way, is even BETTER and in itself more than enough reason to read Wolfsangel) a second time now too. Wolfsangel is an excellent bloody adventure, and I am very glad I found it.
on December 19, 2012
This book has a very adventurous plot and the old age tone helps the reader's curiosity wonder what will happen next. I recommend this book for those who read and enjoyed The Hobbit. As both stories are packed with adventure and hidden meaning.
Led by prophecy, the directions of the witches that dwell beyond the Troll Wall, viking King Authun raids a monastery not for riches but for a boy child, a child stolen from the gods. Instead Authun find twins. He takes both, leaving one with the witches, taking the other to claim as his heir.
Vali is fostered away from Anthun, promised to wed another Viking King's daughter, but has eyes only for a farmers's daughter named Adisla. Feileg is raised in the wilds, more wolf than man, a far cry from his brother's royal upbringing, and is shown a rare bit of sympathy and affection by Adisla when he is captured. Adisla is the thread that ties them together and drives them towards their fate. For they are pawns in the scheming of the gods, and the gods fight for keeps.
Wolfangel is thick with old world magic- shamans and witches, runes and drums and terrifying ritual. It's fantasy elements seem perfectly rooted into the historical and are more mythological than fantastical. It keeps the book believable. Even as gods and witches are fighting it out in the background, the main story is one of love as both brothers work to save Adisla. It is a love story set against the backdrop of an ancient Norse society- harsh, often beautiful, and utterly enthralling in its ferocity. Eerie and atmospheric, albeit violent, it is not a book for the faint of heart. It takes the Norse warrior spirit into account and may characters are sent to feast in Valhalla.
on March 27, 2011
I heard some buzz about this book and got intrigued, Vikings, magic and werewolves, that sure caught my attention. It isn't the easiest book to describe; it is a strange book, like a dream or a tale told long ago by the people living in the North. There Lachlan succeeded, I did feel the Norse Sagas over this story.
The book is dark and brutal. It tells the story of two boys, Vale who grows up not wanting to fight, and falling for a farmgirl. He is to become the Big Bad Wolf that can bring down a God. But in the beginning he is nice, and righteous. He does not want to look up to the Gods of War and instead he looks to Loki the trickster who laughs at the Gods. Even when he is plummeting into darkness I like him, and when I say dark, I mean pitch-black, crazy and lost. His brother is raised by Berserks and then by Wolfmen, he is also a Wolf. A bit crazy, also lost, and seems to be the violent one. This is a tale in which you do not know what will happen.
The magic in this one is true to its origin, runes, witches, and people nearing drowning for a glimpse of the future. It's magic that is real, but at the same time you just do not know, perhaps it is all a coincidence?
The book itself is about growing up, finding yourself, doing the right thing, and in the end, being a mere plaything for gods, or should we say the destroyer of them. Because at the end of time Ragnarök will come, the last battle where Odin is killed by the Fenris wolf. And in this book we meet the Fenris wolf, Odin, and Loki who fathered the wolf. But this book does not end the way you think it will, because there is a second book, though at the same time there is an end. Why? Well you will just have to read to find out.
It was a good book, and if you like adventure, vikings, magic, and fighting then this is the book for you. It is fantasy dipped in reality, a strange dream and a time when Gods were real and present. A time where a new religion started to emerge in the North. And it's the story of the werewolf. It is the Norse sagas told with modern language, and with a totally new spin to things.
I actually have no idea how to rate this book. He sure has a way of words, a good book.