Wolfsangel is one of those books that just feels epic, the kind of epic found in legends and myths and less often than you would think in fantasy books. Though a newcomer to the genre, M.D. Lachlan brings with this genre-debut a lot of weight and excitement, which is, of course, always a plus. Woflsangel is the bringing of a historical fantasy series that will span the centuries from the period in this book, Vikings, to WWII. Far from flawless, Wolfsangel is nevertheless a novel that is sure to thrust its author forward in the fantasy genre
The Viking King Authun leads his men on a raid against an Anglo-Saxon village. Men and women are killed indiscriminately but Authun demands that no child be touched. He is acting on prophecy. A prophecy that tells him that the Saxons have stolen a child from the Gods. If Authun, in turn, takes the child and raises him as an heir, the child will lead his people to glory. But Authun discovers not one child, but twin baby boys. Ensuring that his faithful warriors, witness to what has happened, die during the raid Authun takes the children and their mother home, back to the witches who live on the troll wall. And he places his destiny in their hands. And so begins a stunning multi-volume fantasy epic that will take a werewolf from his beginnings as the heir to a brutal viking king, down through the ages. It is a journey that will see him hunt for his lost love through centuries and lives, and see the endless battle between the wolf, Odin and Loki - the eternal trickster - spill over into countless bloody conflicts from our history, and over into our lives.
Like I said, this is a story clearly reminiscent of the classic tales. It shares both many themes and the feel of such tales. The basic premise too, is similar. I mean, who has never read, watched or heard a story about a young prince setting off on a quest to rescue his loved one? It doesn’t even seem as if such a flimsy premise could hold up the weight of an entire novel. And it doesn’t. That’s what is great about premises: their premises. They do not dictate the entire plot, just its beginning. Very quickly Lachlan starts to tell a very different story, one filled with dark magic, unknown beasts, intrigue, some intense battles and ripe emotions, not to mention the entire second, parallel, plot that runs along with the prince-on-a-quest one. The story is also made more interesting by the fact that it tells the stories of both twins at once, interweaving them as is appropriate, making it a whole lot more fulfilling.
In terms of characters…well, let’s just say that in much the same way as the tone of the book, they resemble the characters of old epics. Which is to say that they can often be distant and a bit un-relatable one moment and the other are humane and all the more lovable. It’s a bit inconsistent, if it doesn’t really deter from reading. This isn’t helped by the fact that the two main characters, the twins, have sort of inverse relationships in terms of their character arcs, meaning a switch between their personalities occurs. Sadly, one of the characters I grew to appreciate in the first chapters of the book, King Authun, soon disappeared before making a short and disappointing return for the denouement.
What bothered me the most about Wolfsangel is the broken transitions between the various elements of the story, bet it point of views or different story arcs. In general, these switches were fine when they happened from one chapter to the next (though there were a couple of times were even those were rough) but instead happened when there is a sudden jump within a chapter. Quite a few times I noticed a bit of a wandering viewpoint where for a whole chapter we would be in limited and then for just one paragraph we would be in omniscient before snapping back to where we were. I’m not usually very picky about this, but I do like consistency and it did seem to me occasionally too blatant. On the whole though, neither this nor the broken transitions were enough to prohibit my enjoyment of the novel.
After reading what is above, does it come as a surprise that I recommend this? There is very little not to love in Wolfsangel or M.D. Lachlan’s resplendent prose. The novel possesses phenomenal action and stupendous scope. A highly recommendable read for any fan of fantasy or any interested in an original new take on the werewolf mythos as well as any that fancy an entertaining jaunt across a Viking-filled north. One piece of advice before leaving: keep an eye on Lachlan because he is sure to amaze us with his feature novels.
My Rating: 4 out of 5
Reading Age: 14 and up
M.D. Lachlan's Website: http://www.mdlachlan.com/