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Wolfsbane: Aralorn, Book 2
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Wolfsbane (Sianim Book 4) [Kindle Edition]

Patricia Briggs
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Shapeshifting mercenary Aralorn leads a dangerous existence. Now she must return home for her noble father, the Lyon of Lambshold, has passed away. But when Aralorn and her companion Wolf arrive, they find he's not dead, but ensorcelled by the ae'Magi, using him as a conduit to destroy Aralorn and Wolf. She must overcome this mysterious mist or fall to the blackest of magic.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Patricia Briggs lives in Montana with her husband, children, and six horses.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

A winterwill cried out twice.

There was nothing untoward about that, the winterwill—a smallish, gray-gold lark—was one of the few birds that did not migrate south in the winter.

Aralorn didn't shift her gaze from the snow-laden trail before her, but she watched her mount's ears flicker as he broke through a drift of snow.

Winterwills were both common and loud…; but it had called out just at the moment when she took the left-hand fork in the path she followed. The snow thinned for a bit, so she nudged Sheen off the trail on the uphill side. Sure enough, a winterwill called out three times and twice more when she returned to the trail again. Sheen snorted and shook his head, jangling his bit.

"Plague it," muttered Aralorn.

The path broke through the trees and leveled a bit as the trees cleared away on either side. She shifted her weight, and her horses stopped. On a lead line, the roan, her secondary mount, stood docilely, but Sheen threw up his head and pitched his ears forward.

"Good lords of the forest," called Aralorn, "I have urgent business to attend. I beg leave to pay toll that I might pass unmolested through here."

She could almost feel the chagrin that descended upon the brigands still under the cover of the trees around her. At long last, a man stepped out. His clothing was neatly patched, and Aralorn was reminded in some indefinable way of the carefully mended cottage where she'd purchased her cheese not a half-hour ride from here. The hood of his undyed cloak was pulled up, and his face was further disguised by a winter scarf wound about his chin and nose.

"You don't have the appearance of a Trader," commented the man gruffly. "How is it you presume to take advantage of their pact with us."

Before she'd seen the man, she'd had a story ready. Aralorn always had a story ready. But the man's appearance changed her plans.

Though his clothes were worn, his boots were good-quality royal issue, and there was confidence in the manner he rested his hand on his short sword. He'd been an army man at sometime. If he'd been in the Rethian army, he'd know her father. Truth would have a better chance with him than any falsehood.

"I have several close friends among the Traders," she said. "But as you say, there is no treaty between you and me; you have no reason to grant me passage."

"The treaty's existence is a closely guarded secret," he said. "One that many would kill to protect."

She smiled at him gently, ignoring his threat. "I've passed for Trader before, and I could have this time as well. But when I saw you for an army man, I thought the truth would work as well—I only lie when I have to."

She surprised a laugh out of him though his hand didn't move from his sword hilt. "All right then, Mistress, tell me this truth of yours."

"I am Aralorn, mercenary of Sianim. My father is dead," she said. Her voice wobbled unexpectedly—disconcerting her momentarily. She wasn't used to its doing anything she hadn't intended. "The Lyon of Lambshold. If you delay me more than a few hours, I will miss his funeral."

"I haven't heard any such news. I know the Lyon," stated the bandit with suspicion. "You don't look like him."

Aralorn rolled her eyes. "I know that. I am his eldest daughter by a peasant woman." At the growing tension in her voice, Sheen began fretting.

His attention drawn to the horse, the bandit leader stiffened and drew in his breath, holding up a hand to silence her. He walked slowly around him, then nodded abruptly. "I believe you. Your stallion could be the double of the one cut down under the Lyon at the battle of Valner Pass."

"His sire died at Valner Pass," agreed Aralorn, "fourteen years ago."

The bandit produced a faded bit of green ribbon and caught Sheen's bit, tying the thin cloth to the shank of the curb. "This will get you past my men. Don't remove it until you come to the Wayfarer's Inn—do you know it?"

Aralorn nodded, started to turn her horses, then stopped. "Tell your wife she makes excellent cheese—and take my advice: Don't let her patch your thieving clothes with the same cloth as her apron. I might not be the only one to notice it."

Startled, the bandit looked at the yellow-and-green weave that covered his right knee.

Softly, Aralorn continued, "It is a hard thing for a woman alone to raise children to adulthood."

She could tell that he was reconsidering his decision not to kill her, something he wouldn't have done if she'd kept her mouth closed; but she could clearly remember the walnut brown eyes of the toddler who held on to his mother's brightly colored apron. He wouldn't fare well in the world without a father to protect him from harm, and Aralorn had a weakness for children.

"You are a smart man, sir," she said. "If I had wanted to have you caught, it would have made more sense for me to go to Lord Larmouth, whose province this is, and tell him what I saw—than for me to warn you."

Slowly, his hand moved away from the small sword, but Aralorn could hear a nearby creaking that told her that someone held a nocked bow. "I will tell her."

She nudged Sheen with her knees and left the bandit behind.

She crossed the first mountain pass late that night, and the second and last pass before Lambshold the following afternoon.

The snow was heavier as she traveled northward. Aralorn switched horses often, but Sheen still took the brunt of the work since he was better suited for breaking through the crusted, knee-deep drifts. Gradually, as new light dawned over the edge of the pass, the mountain trail began to move downward, and the snow lessened. Aralorn swayed wearily in the saddle. It was less than two hours' ride to Lambshold, but she and the horses were going to need rest before then.

The road passed by another small village with an inn. Aralorn dismounted and led her exhausted horses to the stableyard.

If the hostler was surprised at the arrival of a guest in the morning, he gave no sign of it. Nor did he argue when Aralorn gave him the lead to the roan and began the task of grooming Sheen on her own. The warhorse was not so fierce that a stableboy could not have groomed him, but it was her habit to perform the task herself when she was troubled. Before she stored her tack, she untied the scrap of ribbon from Sheen's bit. She left the horses dozing comfortably and entered the inn through the stable door.

The innkeeper, whom she found in the kitchen, was a different man than the one she remembered, but the room he led her to was familiar and clean. She closed the door behind him, stripped off her boots and breeches, then climbed between the sweet-smelling sheets. Too tired, too numb, to dread sleeping as she'd learned to do in the last few weeks, she let oblivion take her.

The dream, when it came, started gently. Aralorn found herself wandering through a corridor in the ae'Magi's castle. It looked much the same as the last time she had seen it, the night the ae'Magi died.

The forbidding stairway loomed out of the darkness. Aralorn set her hand to the wall and took the downward steps, though it was so dark that she could barely see where to put her feet. Dread coated the back of her throat like sour honey, and she knew that something terrible awaited her. She took another step down and found herself unexpectedly in a small stone room that smelled of offal and ammonia.

A woman lay on a wooden table, her face frozen in death. Despite the pallor that clung to her skin and the fine lines of suffering, she was beautiful; her fiery hair seemed out of place in the presence of death. Arcanely etched iron manacles, thicker than the pale wrists they enclosed, had left scars testifying to the years they'd remained in place.

At the foot of the table stood a raven-haired boy regarding the dead woman. He paid no attention to Aralorn or anything else. His face still had that unformed look of childhood. His yellow eyes were oddly remote as he looked at the body, ancient eyes that revealed his identity to Aralorn.

Wolf, thought Aralorn, this was her Wolf as a child.

"She was my mother?" the boy who would be Wolf said at last.

His voice was unexpected, soft rather than the hoarse rasp that she associated with Wolf.


Aralorn looked for the owner of the second voice, but she couldn't see him. Only his words echoed in her ears, without inflection or tone. It could have been anyone who spoke. "I thought you might like to see her before I disposed of her."

The boy shrugged. "I cannot imagine why you thought that. May I return to my studies now, Father?"

The vision faded, and Aralorn found herself taking another step down.

"Even as a child he was cold. Impersonal. Unnatural. Evil," whispered something out of the darkness of the stairwell.

Aralorn shook her head, denying the words. She knew better than anyone the emotions Wolf could conceal equally well behind a blank face or the silver mask he usually wore. If anything, he was more emotional than most people. She opened her mouth to argue when a scream distracted her. She stepped down, toward the sound.

She was naked and cold, her breath rose above her in a puff of mist. She tried to move to conserve her warmth, but iron chains bound her where she was. Cool metal touched her throat, and Wolf pressed the blade down until her flesh parted.

He smiled sweetly as the knife cut slowly deeper. "Hush now, this won't hurt."...

Product Details

  • File Size: 692 KB
  • Print Length: 308 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0441019544
  • Publisher: Ace (November 2, 2010)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00452V314
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,788 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
60 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars At last! November 4, 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm a fan of Patricia Brigg's other work, and especially of these characters. I must have read the original "Masques" about a dozen times in junior high, so I was thrilled when I heard the sequel would be released after so many years. Overall, I found this installment satisfying.

The novel opens with the main character, Aralorn, heading home to her family estate to attend her father's funeral. Wolf joins her at the family castle, and the two soon discover that her father is not in fact dead, but under the influence of a powerful spell that will kill him before long. The book follows Aralorn and Wolf and a small host of friends and family as they work to discover who is responsible for the attack and undo the spell. Their continued romance forms the major subplot of the book, occasionally superseding the mystery, so that it's almost a toss up whether this is a fantasy-mystery novel with some elements of romance, or a romance novel with some elements of fantasy and mystery.

In this sequel, Briggs brings her the two lovers closer together, highlighting the underlying similarity between the two by revealing Aralorn's sense of isolation from her large family, and giving Wolf some opportunity for redemption.

In certain ways, this novel offers a bit of a reality check. In the first book Aralorn and Wolf are coming to terms with how they feel about each other in the midst of a larger struggle against a powerful evil magician. In this book, they've already won the big fight. Now they're actually together--and it's not so easy carrying on a relationship with someone who is the equivalent of a wanted felon, inherently self destructive, and periodically leaves without explanation.

But, it's not so bad either. The couple is charming, sarcastic, witty and sweet.
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Liked it November 6, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
"Wolfsbane" is a sequel to "Masques" and takes up right where Masques left off. It is lighter in tone than much of Patricia Briggs' other work - less darkness, evil and suffering, which I actually enjoyed quite a bit. It's also not very long - just a nice short little novel with a succinct storyline with elements of fantasy, mystery and romance and not too many characters.

In the beginning, Aralorn is coming back home to Lambshold for the first time in 10 years in order to attend her father's funeral. Lambshold is filled with her many many relatives (she has 13 siblings), but thankfully, only some of them are actually described and mentioned by name, otherwise it would have been far too much for the brevity of the book. When she touches her father's cheek, however, she discovers that he is not truly dead, but has been ensorcelled with black magic. Finding out who is responsible for this and saving her father is the fantasy/mystery side of the plot.

The sub-plot is a romance which is not based on the usual question "will they find together" (because they already are) but more on "will Aralorn's love be able to heal Wolf's battered soul (and save his life)?". As we know from Masques, Wolf was raised by the most horribly abusive dad imaginable and is wrecked by guilt over the terrible things his father made him do. Aralorn's gentleness, warmth and sense of humor are helping him immensely, but will they be enough to overcome his self-destructiveness?

My only real complaint was some of the characterization.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plot lacks thrills, but romance is sweet December 17, 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Wolfsbane, the sequel to Patricia Briggs' debut novel Masques, was written later in her career and just published last month. It continues the story of the shapeshifters Aralorn and Wolf, whose relationship has developed significantly since the beginning of Masques. Aralorn has been called home after a ten-year absence because her father has died. When she and her "pet" Wolf arrive, they find some evil magic at work and a mystery to solve.

As you'd expect, Briggs' writing is better this time. She has a smooth style that I find pleasant to read (or in this case, listen to, since I read this on audio, again read by Katherine Kellgren). I enjoyed spending more time with Aralorn and Wolf and agree with Ms. Briggs who, in the humble introduction to the book, said she wrote Wolfsbane because these characters deserve further attention. They're smart, witty, and good, and their relationship is believable.

Though Wolfsbane may be a better crafted book, I didn't find its plot to be as compelling as the plot of Masques. This may be partly because it felt very much like a sequel -- the characters and the world are no longer something new to explore, so enjoyment of the novel must come from either spectacular style or truly engaging plot and Wolfsbane, though it's a pleasant read, has neither. There was a lot of talking through ideas and coming to conclusions by discussion or spying rather than by active investigation, so I was bored in spots (but not for long because Wolfsbane is short and quick-paced).

The evil magic that Aralorn and Wolf must overcome directly affects their relationship, and this is the true focus of Wolfsbane. For this reason, I think readers of romances will probably enjoy Wolfsbane more than I did. The plot lacks thrills, but the romance is sweet and satisfying.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars This book as well as the other three of Sianim were great
I gave this book a five star rating because it held my interest to the end hating that it had to end would recommend this book to friends and family
Published 15 hours ago by Florence M Bragg
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Well done and what a great adventure. I strongly believe that Aralorn and Wolf deserve another story!
Published 1 month ago by D KAY J
5.0 out of 5 stars wolfbane is a great read
The plot keeps you twisting and turning. I loved it. I read it n five hours. Couldn't put it down
Published 1 month ago by su walton
5.0 out of 5 stars black magic mixed with love
Patricia Briggs has found delightfully complex, magical characters to build a whole new series around. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Elizabeth Blake
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I enjoy all of Patricia Briggs books.
Published 2 months ago by jean
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Like trying to eat one potato chip........I want more of their story.
Published 2 months ago by C. Braly
5.0 out of 5 stars good read
Rich and deep as always. The characters live and thrive flowing from Briggs proverbial pen with all the richness and depth one would expect.
Published 3 months ago by Victoria T.
4.0 out of 5 stars Past returns to the present
Its about the a daughter that is half human. And shape-shifted! To attend a funeral of her father. She meet a friend who is a half-breed like herself. When she looks at the body. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book!
I've read all of Patricia Briggs books so far. I have enjoyed them all, immensely!!! Once I start one I never want to put it down! Great Author!!
Published 5 months ago by Zelina Forester
5.0 out of 5 stars Wolfsbane
What a wonderful story. I loved every second of it. I would love to share this story with everyone who asks about my thoughts on the book. Thank you Ms. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Toby
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More About the Author

Patricia Briggs is the author of the New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series. She lives in Washington state with her husband, children, and a small herd of horses.

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