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Wolfskin, book one ot the Saga of the Light Isles by Juliet Marillier
Review by CaleynaMarillier wowed fantasy fans with her first effort (Seven Waters trilogy), so it's no surprise that she was able to do it again. Wolfskin was a very different work with a very different main character, but it was still beautifully written and meticulously researched.
The story starts with a young Norse boy who dreams of becoming a mighty viking warrior--and not just any warrior. He wants to be one of the elite Wolfskins, always first in battle with a cry of Thor on his lips. While waiting for his chance to prove himself he is assigned the job of teaching a very unpleasant and strange young boy how to act. They spend summers together, the brave Evyind teaching the clever Somerled most of the lessons needed to become a man.
As the story unfolds the readers are given clues that all may not be as Evyind hoped. When he is finally called to go on an expedition to find a mythic land the reader can easily sense the doom that hangs over this quest.
This is a book of honor, courage and oaths. It's also a book of darkness. What happens when you've sworn an oath that requires you to destroy what you've come to love? What happens when the man you swore an oath to turns out to be a betrayer of all that is right?
I found the story to be very engrossing and had a hard time putting it down. I loved Evyind and the female lead, Nessa. I also loved many of the supporting characters and found myself in tears more than once (though not nearly so often as I was with Daughter of the Forest). One thing's for sure, Marillier knows how to wring emotion out of her readers.
Sometimes I did find the book to be moving a little too slowly, but maybe that was because I wanted to find out what happened instead of read all sorts of philosophy on what courage and oaths and life really mean. It was also frustrating to see so many people turn to violence. It's hard to believe that only one man out of so many (30 maybe?) could see the truth.
Overall I'd give this book a 4 out of 5 amulets. I'm eagerly looking forward to the sequel, though I'm not sure what it could possibly be about. I guess she must be planning on doing a multi-generational thing like she did with her previous series. This story wrapped itself up so at least I don't have to yearn to know the answer to a cliff hanger.
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