Review of Wolf’s Call by Anthony Ryan

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This book was provided to me via ARC through Netgalley

Wolf’s Call is perhaps a complicated book full of intrigue, political drama and enough content to sink your teeth into. I enjoyed reading this book, but I must admit that having never read Anthony’s Ryan previous novels, this was hard to get into within the first chapter, but overall it won me over. The prose is excellent, with a uniqueness that I have not seen before. His descriptions of Vaelin using the bow and arrow is crisp and authentic. Thus giving a feeling that the author did his research. Is it Grimdark fantasy? I believe so. There was a particular scene where Vaelin raids a camp with the Northern Guard. It gives a vibe of Asterix’s and Obelix for some particular reason. However, I would implore readers to Tower Lord and Queen of Fire. This is for extra backstory and something I will be doing in the future. The best part was from page forty-seven when Vaelin described gold as the primary product of the realm. It almost sounded like Jon Snow talking.

If one were to ask me what makes this book different, not much. The uniqueness in this novel, however, is that it does attempt to drive away from the Western Medieval fantasy trope, and takes its inspiration from Germanic Paganism which was clear to see within the prologue. Vaelin is a character that you quickly begin to emphasize with, as you realize that he is a soldier at heart that desires peace. But peace can never be his mistress, for war is. Vaelin Al Sorna is the humble version of Ramesses the II. The plot of the book itself has the Steel People coming to declare war which is eerily similar to the Sea People’s that with the help of the Assyrians, destroyed the Hittite Empire and drove into Egypt.

With regards to the plot, it was bascially a bittered warrior running from his past, traveling to the Merchant Kingdoms and defeat the nomadic Kelhbrand. He was also trying to save Sherrin who he had betrayed, and had to deal with Tsai Shao who I felt was under-used in this novel. We did not get a chance to see Tsai Shao’s romance bloom with Sherrin. At times Vaelin felt as if he wanted to take her back, but couldn’t. There should have been an underlying motivation here as well.

I think Anthony Ryan certainly put some freshness with the inclusion of fantasy China, and this is something I as a reader am always looking towards a fantasy novel, with more diverse cultures. There were many pieces of excellent dialogue, but I didn’t like the swearing as it became to cliche for me at the end. At some points, it was a big cast of characters each playing their role, so there was not much I could say for this, but I will re-read the entire series to get a better understanding. It took Ramesses the II to drive the Sea People back away and he was praised as a hero. (If he wasn’t such a big megalomanic!) Whereas with Vaelin, the conditions are the same except in a more fantasy genre setting.

Overall, this was a great book but difficult enough to get through as I had not read the previous novels. If you like battles, magic and sword fights, including a diverse fantasy culture, this novel is for you. My rating is a solid 4/5