Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon

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Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon

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Buy Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Natalie Baker
Reviewed by Natalie Baker
Summary: A complex tale of political intrigue, personal depravity, magic, gods, princesses, warlords, thieves, successes, mistakes and more than one murder, Wolfblade starts a little slow but ramps up the pace in an enjoyable story that seems predictable at the outset, but soon proves to be anything but.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 752 Date: July 2008
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-1841496528

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And I thought it was going to be so normal. Another average mediaeval-style fantasy novel. And at the start, that's precisely what it seems to be, a box ticked for just about every fantasy element you could want. I thought it was going to be readable, but nothing memorable. I shouldn't have underestimated this author's ability for plot twists!

Jennifer Fallon writes very comfortably in her world, and manages to introduce reams of characters without too much confusion, the main one being Princess Marla, a silly young girl about to be married off in an act of political expediency that she desperately wants to avoid – she'd much rather marry the dashing young Nathan Hawksword. Her brother, the High Prince, is more interested in sex than politics and it's a magician and some warlords who do the real job of running the country. But there's scheming everywhere (everybody's plotting something at some point!) and Marla finds herself a pawn in a game of chess where everyone's playing on different boards to different rules – and with the help of her dwarf slave Elezaar, she decides to put her brain to use and learn to play the game as well.

It's a many threaded plot that Fallon weaves, and while some – particularly events at the start of the book – seem to disappear without trace, the rest is remarkably coherent. What comes across is not just the intricacy of the plot, but also that she had a great deal of fun writing it, and this helps to make it an enjoyable read. It took me a while to get really into the book, but there's one event in particular that seems to be leading in a predictable direction and then suddenly takes a very sharp left turn that won't fail to surprise and shock and from that point on I was hooked. The story suffers slightly from overload, in that by keeping the focus on moving along the plot character development is a little bumpy and I didn't feel like I came to know any character particularly well. However, given the high body count in the story, perhaps that's just as well; Fallon does not shirk at killing off major characters as well as minor ones and it doesn't do to get attached! This is also the first book in the trilogy, so I am willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and hope that there's just a lot of set-up. It's also a prequel trilogy, so some characters will be known to readers who already know her previous books, and presumably there's also some revelations pertaining to later events that I missed, but it certainly didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book.

My major complaint, however, is names. Two fairly major characters are named Laran and Lernen and while they couldn't be more different personality-wise, the names are similar enough for me to get muddled up. Then there's the magical race, called the Harshini who all seem to have hugely long names and are mostly referred to by their nicknames (so why bother with the long names) and then there's just the unfortunate names such as the woman called Veruca. The other really irksome word is the use of court'esa to describe the – well, slaves who are courtesans. The word is so similar, I wished she'd either just gone with the normal word, or chosen something completely different – it's hard to ignore the word, too, as it comes up extremely often in the text.

In the end, though, I can overlook these annoyances. If you like your fantasy novel to come with a huge cast and jump around between storyline threads a lot, and you like a complicated and surprising plot that will deal you several surprises, then Wolfblade delivers.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Another very readable Australian fantasy author is Glenda Larke - you might like to read our review of The Heart of the Mirage.

Buy Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon at Amazon.com.

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