Maniye’s father is the Wolf clan’s chieftain, but she’s an outcast. Her mother was queen of the Tiger and these tribes have been enemies for generations. Maniye also hides a deadly secret. All can shift into their clan’s animal form, but Maniye can take on tiger and wolf shapes. She refuses to disown half her soul so escapes, rescuing a prisoner of the Wolf clan in the process. The killer Broken Axe is set on their trail, to drag them back for retribution.
The Wolf chieftain plots to rule the north and controlling his daughter is crucial to his schemes. However, other tribes also prepare for strife. Strangers from the far south appear too, seeking allies in their own conflict. It’s a season for omens as priests foresee danger and a darkness falling across the land. Some say a great war is coming, overshadowing even Wolf ambitions. A time of testing and broken laws is near, but what spark will set the world ablaze?
Firstly, please take the time to admire the dust jacket of this book. I know they say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ – but how can you not. The intricate design of the wolf gives it the feel of being both tiger and wolf and it’s very appealing with the gold colouring. It’s beautiful!
I’ve never read anything by Adrian Tchaikovsky before, but by the sounds of things, he’s quite good at the art of writing fantasy ( I intend to embark upon his more well-known works within the coming months). Having read a lot of fantasy recently, I was definitely intrigued by the premise of this novel. 1) It had two of my favourite animals within the book; Tiger and Wolf (I believe that the wolf is my spirit animal!), and 2) Who cannot love anthropomorphism and shapeshifting? With that in mind, I had high hopes for an author I had never come across before.
Definitely not disappointed! This novel is full of vivid and engaging detail that draws you in immediately. You are presented with a world that is full of tribes such as Wolf, Tiger, Horse, Bear etc and submerged within their conflicts and the society they inhabit. There’s a lot going on for this world, and Tchaikovsky brings it all to life with simple and economic language. It’s very intricately woven!
The main character, Maniye, is very endearing with her naive way about life towards the beginning of the novel as she takes a childish approach to life by going against her father, Stone River, as well as various other members of the Wolf tribe. She is, however, a character in development. By leaving the tribe and embarking on a journey that, to all intents and purposes, appears brave by her standards, she develops into a mature character who truly understands her position in life and begins to realise what she does and doesn’t want to do. She makes enemies, but also friends, and it is her friends that also help to bring about her change allowing her to realise the risks that they are putting themselves in in order to protect her from the warring tribes out to retrieve her for their own gain and malicious intent.
With that being said, there is a lot of conflict through the novel resulting in various action scenes that help to push forward the narrative and fastens the pacing of the novel. Though there are a few slower scenes, it doesn’t deter from the brilliance of this novel allowing the reader to gain valuable information about tribes, additional characters, and the way in which the world around Maniye works.
Finally, one aspect I was extremely pleased by was the lack of a love interest in regards to Maniye. Being the main character, and a young one at that, I initially felt like there would be some cheesy love interest that helped push her through to the end to achieve everything that she wanted. This is not the case! Though she becomes close to characters, it is more companionship alongside friendships with other characters which I felt help to make Maniye a very likeable and human character as opposed to a stereotypical trope.