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justvivian

Quirky Musings

(but mostly stupid ones)

A Companion to Wolves (Iskryne World, #1) - Sarah Monette,  Elizabeth Bear It's difficult to collect my thoughts and feelings on this book, as complicated as this book itself is, but I know I have to write something -anything- down before I lose thoughts and feelings.

The world is stunning, quite simply. A beautiful and stark piece and an epic journey, of both the story itself and the feelings that result from it. It's hard to rate or review this book and I'm floundering awkwardly trying to do it, honestly. It feels wrong to place this under the umbrella M/M Romance, because it's so much more than that. The gorgeous story telling brings about this detached, almost ethereal atmosphere, likening to that of a fairy tale.




Winter is long, and the nights are cold. There was a time when men maintained mere dogs to guard their cattle, when there were no wolfheallan and no wolfcarls, when trellwolves were troth-enemies of true-men. When fell trolls, terrible tyrants, walked in winter as they willed it, and our forefathers shuddered in shallow scrapes. This was the time of Thorsbaer Thorvaldson, who first knew a konigenwolf and swore to serve her for salvation.




The atmosphere of this book was never really happy chappy at any point. Even in the calm moments, it always felt like there was the shadow of something looming over my head, as much as they had the shadow of trolls over their's.

One of the things that really hit the hardest was the sheer and desperate instinct to survive. The brutal war with man and wolf against trolls is confronting at times, because we're reminded constantly that both sides are just trying to survive. There's this twist in your gut as men slaughter troll kits, and trolls slaughter wolf cubs and there's this endless vicious cycle of survival which culminates to this tragic scene when a trellwitch, a survivor of the battle, is begging (please, please) for Isolfr to spare the troll kitten she was clutching and it was brutal relief I felt when the scene ended the way it did, leaving me with a certain (though mostly unfounded) hope.

And the characters-- they were vivid, solid beings, ones which I couldn't understand frequently, time and circumstance an uncrossable rift which made me flinch at decisions and traditions. Yet I rooted for them, mourned with them and felt like I almost stood with them. There was a lot of loss. People died, wolves died and I mourned for them all. And when the authors decided to make us empathise with the death of the trolls-- Fuck, really?

In regards romance elements of this section (though really, the word romance has never seemed so small and constrictive than in this moment), it is there, with a different taste and smell (figuratively, of course). And I say this because honestly, I was rather dubious about the whole romance aspect of this book, and although I hesitate to call it that, it is there and product is satisfying. It's not the type of flirty, eye-winking, bantering, groin rubbing romance that you may find more commonly in gaymance, but it has a somewhat different taste to it, one which suits the setting extremely well. And the note the book ended on left a lot of room for the characters and their relationship to change and grow (which I am definitely looking forward to).

One of the major problems I had this the book was the insane mental strain of learning a huge range of names and terms (wolfcarls, heallbred, wolfheallan, wolfspechend; just to name a mere speck, ya know). I had to flip back and forth (figure of speech of course, since I read it on kindle) so many times and honestly, this really isn't sickbed material. You have to hunker down and think. And not to mention the wolf politics, which made learning names and relations all the more important. (Flips desk). Thankfully, it really was worth it.

A Companion to Wolves is very much a labour of love from both authors and I really do commend them. The writing is lyrical in a sense, and the world brutal and stark in beauty. I couldn't stop reading; this fascination, this drive to know more, to read more and immerse myself in the world fuelled me into the AMs (which, of course, was detrimental to my recovery).

I adore this book and right now, I'm still wallowing in the feelings and wistful afterglow of reading. I might change my rating in a month, a year or maybe never, but right now it's a solid, glorious five for me. Read it or don't, I honestly don't care. Afterglow makes it hard for me to care about anything. However, if anything, read it for the world, the endless stretch of harsh white and the smell of wolf names on the wind.




Note: I unashamedly admit that playing Skyrim made this world seem a whole lot less foreign in regards to some of the names.