- Series: The Black Wolves Trilogy (Book 1)
- Paperback: 832 pages
- Publisher: Orbit (November 3, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780316368698
- ISBN-13: 978-0316368698
- ASIN: 0316368695
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.4 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 43 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,311,250 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Black Wolves (The Black Wolves Trilogy) Paperback – November 3, 2015
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"Characters, their relationships and motivations are intricately woven, and the sympathy one feels for each is a testament to how well they are written...The reader will gasp in surprise and amazement at each revelation."―RT Book Reviews (Top Pick!) on Black Wolves
"Sophisticated, multifaceted worldbuilding sparked by original flourishes, populated by characters we quickly come to care about ... a stellar performance."―Kirkus on The Black Wolves
"Black Wolves is a sweeping tale of loyalty and betrayal, ambition and intrigue, impelled by the mysteries that lie at its heart."―Jacqueline Carey on Black Wolves
"Intricate, fascinating worldbuilding, twisty political intrigue, vivid characters to love and hate -- this is Kate Elliott at the top of her epic fantasy game."―Karen Miller on Black Wolves
"On a vast, colorful canvas, Kate Elliott has drawn dozens of characters who act and react with poetry and grit. Lush and textured, by turns moving, exciting, playful, and contemplative, Black Wolves is a masterpiece that soars with an epic soul."―Ken Liu on Black Wolves
"Delightfully complex."―Library Journal on Black Wolves
"The concept got me shivering. . . .the characters, the mysteries, the background history, the cultural complexity, were all so intriguing I couldn't stop reading."―Elizabeth Moon on Cold Magic
"Elliott pulls out all the stops in a wildly imaginative narrative that will ring happy bells for fans of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy."―Publishers Weekly on Cold Magic
"Elliott has concocted something very special and original here, with elements to tweak sci-fi and fantasy fans of nearly any stripe."―New York Journal of Books on Cold Magic
About the Author
Kate Elliott is the author of more than a dozen novels, including the Novels of the Jaran and, most recently, the Crossroads fantasy series. King's Dragon, the first novel in the Crown of Stars series, was a Nebula Award finalist; The Golden Key (with Melanie Rawn and Jennifer Roberson) was a World Fantasy Award finalist. Born in Oregon, she lives in Hawaii.
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***“Dannarah, never forget that a king wields many weapons, and some of them are men. The soldiers I command are sometimes kinsmen but most, however valuable, are expendable in the service of victory. Do not deploy them lightly, or incompetently. Do not waste them, because the best ones take far more time to train than they do to die. But never mistake them for something they are not. Do you understand me?” ***
There were many times I thought I knew where the story was going just to be abruptly surprised when the direction swiftly changed and went a new direction altogether.
There are plenty of villains roaming around and the good guys aren’t just good, they are complex and depending on what side of the battle you are one might be described a little villainous as well. I did have a few favorite characters in Sarai, the bastard daughter of a clan that seems very middle eastern culturally speaking. She is strong since she has been an outcast in her clan all of her life. I love how smart and cunning she is. Lifka is also a strong female character, she should be a slave but was taken in by a family and raised as their own. Now bonded to an Eagle and enemy of the prince she will have to fight to save her family and keep her own skin.
There are a dozen great story arcs happing in the middle of the main arc and so the pacing of the story takes awhile to get going. One reason is that this starts with a set of characters and we read 7-8 chapters with them before time jumping 44 years into the future. I was really invested in the main characters in the beginning and when we return to the story not all of them are alive and things have really changed. It did take awhile for everything to pick back up again after that, but it did.
The worldbuiding is interesting, once upon a time the creatures now called Demons were called Guardians and acted as Judges seeking justice in the land. But time has changed and now they are considered evil and hunted to be killed. There is a subtle magic here. It is not overt but there are bonds between Eagles and people that allow them to have a partnership. There are also places called Demon Coils that are scattered across the land and seem to play a part in the roles of the Guardians and other who a considered demon touched. I liked this part of the world the most.
***“To become one of the nine Guardians, those whom your father also called demons, you must die in the pursuit of justice. Then the land restores you in the form of a Guardian with cloak and horse so you can continue to seek justice as a judge in the land.” ***
Even with a few of the pacing issues I really got into the story and with how it ended I’ll be excited to see what happens to all the characters in the next book of the series. The good news was there are a lot of strong women characters to root for and a few men that I really liked as well. But the characters I hated I really hated, they were so awful that I just wanted someone to kill them soon. While I got my wish on a few of them there are still plenty left for the next book out in 2020. I’ll be back to this world then.
The world Kate Elliott built in the Crossroads trilogy and continued here in Black Wolves is complex, interesting, and thoroughly thought out. There are many fantasy authors who can write compelling characters, but very few who can match this level of world building. The character development is also excellent, though the number of characters whose perspectives we follow does make each one feel a bit more distant from the reader. The politics and intrigue are also well handled.
My one nit pick with this book is that when the character perspective shifts each chapter we aren't always immediately told which character we're now reading about. Getting a name in the first sentence or two, or having the characters name as a chapter title would have helped toward that.
There is a large well-delineated cast of characters, fully half of them women, and while many are sympathetic, they do not all agree with one another about basically anything. This means the plot is based on character, rather than some prophecy, or a magical doohickey that someone needs to find or destroy. Instead the story is about: colonization, ethnic conflict, political resentment, imperial ambition, religious extremism, the role of women in public life, the value of families of choice, and the difficulty of creating political change without resorting to violence. Which all sounds bleak and dreary, but instead it's exciting, because there are mysteries, swordfights, moments of beauty, and GIANT MAGICAL EAGLES. Also secret societies, pirates, flying horses, cryptography, invasions, and enormous temples.
I read it all in one binge, and I cannot wait for the next one. So good!