Wolfsangel by MD Lachlan – Book Review [Bane of Kings]
Bane of Kings reviews the novel Wolfsangel, written by MD Lachlan and published by Gollancz books in the UK and Pyr Books in the USA.
“A fantastic, original debut that will leave you wanting more. Lachlan is an author to look out for.” ~The Founding Fields
Epic Fantasy. There’s usually a quest involved. A Dark Lord, maybe. Sometimes Halflings or a Farmboy. Dragons perhaps, and most likely Elves, and especially if it’s a fantasy world, Elves will have no doubt settled there first and are not as prosperous as they once were. And, same can be said with Dwarves as well. As much as I’d want to say it, we rarely see anything new in Epic Fantasy these days. Sure, we see the occasional outstanding novel such as The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie, but apart from that – there’s nothing that opens a new window to Epic Fantasy out there that I’ve read that’s quite like Wolfsangel, MD Lachlan’s brilliant debut that combines Norse Mythology with Werewolves, who have been overlooked recently with the mass influx of vampires appearing alongside novels such as the disaster that was Twilight (Which had Werewolves as well, mind you), and others of its ilk. However, Wolfsangel is a refreshing take Werewolves, and by an author who’s made himself one of the ones who I’d like to look out for in the future.
The Viking God Odin has told that the King Authun should not have a son. However, the witches of the North have told Authun where he can find a child born from the gods. But not all is as it seems, and when Authun raids a Saxon village in search of the child, he doesn’t find one – but two twin boys. So, unsure – he decides to take both from the village, and head back home.
And so the stage is set for an epic fantasy that isn’t quite what we’re used to. As I mentioned above, there aren’t any of the normal tropes commonly seen in fantasy novels such as Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, and that’s one of the reasons why I really enjoyed Wolfsangel.
Despite the fact that the pacing is a bit uneven, I believe that MD Lachlan has put some fantastic work into this novel and has managed to make me a fan of his work with just one book. The characters are captivating, the plot is intriguing, and the world that the author has created has clearly had a lot of thought put into it and I would love to see where he takes the reader with this series.
The novel itself doesn’t spend that much time with King Authun, and soon we find it pretty clear that our focus is on the two brothers, Feiling – raised by a bezerk, Odin praising family. Vali on the other hand, is the one who is slightly saner, raised by the King himself. They are raised in quite different societies, each one with different views of the world.
I haven’t read that much about the Norse mythology, (American Gods by Neil Gaiman and Age of Odin by James Lovegrove are the only novels that I can recall that I’ve read), but I think they remain my favourite pantheon of the old religions, and one that I love reading about when combined with fantasy novels such as this one. Wolfsangel paints a pretty brutal picture of not only this particular mythology but also the Viking culture as a whole. I’m not sure if it’s accurate, but it’s certainly a portrayal that I’ve enjoyed and one that has got me wanting to read more from MD Lachlan
As mentioned earlier, the one major problem that I had with Wolfsangel is the pacing. It’s a bit uneven, sometimes fast, sometimes slow – and I hope the author has fixed this issue with the sequel; it would just make the novel flow a lot easier.
World-building is one of Lachlan’s many strong points here. His world is richly detailed, and he shows you around the world that he has created. That particular world is one that has not been copied over and over again, and you really get a feel as to how original this creation is as you keep reading. Top notch stuff.
Lachlan isn’t afraid to kill major characters in this novel off, either – and this is what many authors don’t often have the courage to do, so I applaud him for this. I won’t mention who takes the hit of course, but don’t expect everyone to make it out by the end.
The next novel in the series is entitled Fenrir, and takes the stage to Paris, and I can tell you that I’ve never read about Werewolves in Paris before, so I’m going to attempt to get the sequel as soon as possible, after all – I really did enjoy Wolfsangel. You should, too.
More MD Lachlan: Wolfsangel, Fenrir