PDF / Epub A Companion to WolvesAuthor Sarah Monette – Gsagency.co

This is an impressive piece of fiction From what I ve read elsewhere, I understand that the authors conceived the book as a tongue in cheek, farcical look at the companion animal genre, forcing it to its logical, absurd conclusions In addition, the story is replete with nearly unpronounceable made up words, also typical of the genre Finally, the authors included a great big dose of slashy guy on guy action to delight and mock the fan girls In the hands of lesser authors, this story would be a cringe fest However, Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette are consummate storytellers, and they transcend their own farce This is brilliant world building, and the logical conclusion of the companion animal concept yields a interesting story than the wish fulfillment fantasy so often portrayed The characters are believable and well rendered, their sexuality complicated and also believable The language system of the book is so expertly designed that the barrage of foreign words quickly sorts itself out Even when presented with a new unknown word, the reader can often guess its meaning The Norse sounds and syllables continue to roll around in your head long after you re done with the book The authors never break the third wall, never explain anything They do not pander to the reader for even an instant They drop you into the story, and you have to swim It s highly immersive, and there s going on in this story than the average reader will even catch Finally, in spite of the variety of gay and straight relationships in the story, the central relationship is always that of the wolf and the boy The authors never lose sight of this The most touching scene in the story is the scene where the wolf struggles with her limited skills and vocabulary to apologize to her brother for what happens to him when she comes into heat A Companion to Wolves is an engaging story, expertly told It seems obvious that no one is sure how to market it However, if you think you ll like it after reading this review whether you re male, female, gay or straight , then you will. I think a lot of people have read this expecting something it really is not comfortable LGBT fantasy romance But while there are gay characters and themes, the main character is straight than not, and the gay sex goes toward highlighting issues which previous work like Anne McCaffrey s Pern books ignored Instead of telepathic dragons and euphemistic sex scenes which turn out okay for everyone because of course the green dragons choose gay men, this explores the complications for gender identity and sexuality To that end, there s a lot of dubious consent here the wolf brothers relationships mirror the wolves themselves If that s going to bother you, definitely don t read this or read it with caution , because it s quite deliberately difficult for the main character to navigate and accept If you re reading this because you loved The Goblin Emperor uh, don t, at least not just for that reason.However, since I didn t go into this expecting sappy gay romance, since I ve read part of Sarah Monette s M lusine, I was pretty prepared for this Having noticed all those issues with the mating sequences in Pern when I reread the first book, it was interesting to see someone deal with it, and also to place it in a context that or less forced the authors to deal with it Of course, this is Iskyrne , not the Norse world, but it s close enough, with similar gender politics and social issues to navigate.The whole thing is an exploration of honour and how Isolfr has to adjust his ideas of honour and how his father also has to adjust, since that theme runs from the start of the story It s not always comfortable and I don t think there s really a happy end for Isolfr There s just adjustment everything is worth it for the sake of his wolf That s the real emotional core of the story Isolfr s relationship with Viradechtis.The fantasy world is also interesting, although it s somewhat typical trolls and essentially, though not described in this way dwarves, magical wolves, etc The set up for the wolfhealls is essentially the same as for the Weyrs of Pern protecting the world The difference is essentially a in the amount of ice, b wolves can t fly, and c it actually deals with the issues of consent it raises.I enjoyed it, even though it wasn t always comfortable I don t think the brutality of parts of it are actually intended to be some kind of indictment of the lifestyle, as some reviewers have thought There are gay couples in the story who have a meaningful and romantic relationship, just as there are characters who don t have sex with men outside of the breeding cycles of the wolves It reflects less of an obsession with sexuality, showing fluidity, which is entirely possible in the society depicted in the wolfhealls.Originally posted here. A Companion To Wolves Is The Story Of A Young Nobleman, Isolfr, Who Is Chosen To Become A Wolfcarl A Warrior Who Is Bonded To A Fighting Wolf Isolfr Is Deeply Drawn To The Wolves, And Though As His Father S Heir He Can Refuse The Call, He Chooses To Go The People Of This Wintry Land Depend On The Wolfcarls To Protect Them From The Threat Of Trolls And Wyverns, Though The Supernatural Creatures Have Not Come In Force For Many Years Men Are Growing Too Confident The Wolfhealls Are Small, And The Lords Give Them Less Respect Than In Former Years But The Winter Of Isolfr S Bonding, The Trolls Come Down From The North In Far Greater Numbers Than Before, And The Holding S Complaisance Gives Way To Terror In The Dark Isolfr, Now Bonded To A Queen Wolf, Viradechtis, Must Learn Where His Honor Lies, And Discover The Lengths To Which He Will To Go When It, And Love For His Wolf, Drive Him A really riveting, well thought out book with a Nordic basic, in which boys teens in the culture are tithed to the wolf brothers when there is a new litter They vie for the pups and become their human brothers or sisters, members of a hard fighting cult that protects human lands against the incursions of the trolls I m not going into much detail than that, because the culture of the great wolves and their brothers is complex The names for the relationships, for the offices in the wolf halls, and for the human holdings, are all Norse, which can get all little hard to keep track of, but I found this book, which goes beyond the grit of day to day life, to be well worth the trouble One note of warning There is some raw, completely justified in terms of the culture, sex This is definitely for mature teens and adults, not middle readers I must admit, I bought this book, inspired by some hilarious reviews here on GR Unfortunately, those reviews mislead me about the seriousness of this book or better yet how seriously it takes itself That is portrayed mainly in the main character s values and views on the world he is in and his personal duties And so I shall start with the BAD things about this book non graphic SPOILERS 1 Serious issues with sexual consent The protagonist is, for a lack of better description straight He isn t even bisexual , he is straight He, personally, does not wish to have sex with men, doesn t find them particularly attractive etc If for a moment the reader wonders about a spark between him and a secondary character in the book, all hope is crushed soon enough due to conflict or just lack of interest on the protagonist s part And yet, since he is mated to the alpha bitch wolf of the pack, he gets mounted whenever she gets mounted because it is his duty Even if I was fully aware that the authors were aiming for some sort of appeal in the sex scenes, I saw none It just wasn t clear how being sexually used like a bitch for his wolf s benefit was honour for the straight main character One scene of what I can only describe as a gang bang was particularly difficult for me to swallow and this is coming from a dub con fan.2 No M M romance Naturally, this links to the protagonist s sexual orientation This isn t a book about two men falling in love, it s about one hetero man forcing himself to bend over for a bunch of guys I do not enjoy 3 The names of most of the characters were difficult to distinguish due to their similarity If that s not enough, the names of their wolf companions are thrown in as well and half the time I was left wondering who the hell the authors were referring to and if it was a human or a wolf.4 Character development Many of the characters simply weren t developed enough They got brought in, some seeming very promising too, and then just mentioned again after a whole bunch of pages without actual detail 5 The reasoning I honestly feel that the authors could have been successful about why the main characters do what they do My wolf companion is worth sacrifices and I shall give them because it s my duty is not enough of an explanation even if it is repeated about 100 times using different words expressions Where was the depth The inspiration The opportunity for the reader to think I can relate What was GOOD about this book, and it was enough to salvage the situation and get a third star 1 The writing Aside from the names issue, I have no complaints with the writing It flows, it makes sense etc 2 The main idea I love the idea about bonding to an animal , having a telepathic connection with it, fighting side by side with it It s a special kind of bond that I ve wished I had many times.3 The other fantasy elements Now, I may not be a fan of trolls, but it was neat reading about people hunting and fighting them, even if some scenes dragged on for quite a bit.Anyway, sorry if this review is too long and if it disappointed future readers Keep in mind that this is my personal opinion and even though I didn t particularly enjoy this book and will not be reading its sequel you still might find stuff appealing M Imagine a world very alike to old Iceland, populated with trolls and wyvern snakes, giant fighting wolves and humans who resemble the vikings of old There are Earls, and villagers, and there are the wolfcarls, warriors who are mythically bonded to giant wolves They defend the humans against the trolls, beings so powerful only the united forces of men and wolves can defeat them Njall, eldest son of an earl, is drawn to the wolves, but he is also his father s heir When the wolfjarl, the head of the wolfcarls, claims him as part of the thrall, Njall s father objects But Njall wants to go So he bonds with his wolf sister, Viradechtis, and becomes Isolfr But there s the catch to being a wolfcarl there are only male humans, but some of them are bonded to female wolves And when the wolves mate, the humans do also, making Isolfr the one who will be taken by the human brothers of the male wolves who mate with his wolf sister Isolfr almost breaks up with the necessity to give himself to other men But then the trolls start to come, and the whole world as Isolfr knows it threatens to be destroyed Isolfr realizes his place in the world and his worthiness as a man has nothing to do with whom he surrenders to, but everything with the reasons why he does it This book was different for many reasons, and I can see why some may find it difficult Particularly the sex might be bothering people Without being outrightly raped, Isolfr isn t entirely consensual when it comes to having sex with other men But the world he lives in is violent and cruel, not only to Isolfr, but in general, and the forced matings fit the setting The way Isolfr grows into his role and finds his place in this very different and complicated world is part of the magic of this book Not one single time did Isolfr act out of character he was entirely plausible and so were the other men and the wolves who are personalities in their own rights Significant for the author s skills, the wolves are just human enough to make it plausible for them to bond with men, but they are still animals No pathetic fallacy, the wolves are cruel and single minded and living in the moment like true animals The worldbuilding was fantastic, totally transporting the reader into it The story itself, with the deadly threat of the trolls forging an unlikely alliance out of men, wolves and mountain smiths elf like creatures of great power , was solid, well crafted fantasy, nothing new but original enough to be exciting There were some minor issues, of course For once, the names appeared totally random Also, most of them suddenly changed after one third of the book there were a lot of names The name and character list on the first page was actually very necessary Then, there was this fake nordic language which lead to tongue twisting word monsters like wolfmaeghtthing Not really necessary, some readers might find this disturbing I didn t mind, but I m a linguist, so my opinion in this doesn t exactly count Third, the story felt open ended, particularly on Isolfr s part Then again, maybe he can t entirely find his peace with his place in life It was still satisfying to see both Isolfr and Viradechtis mated in the end This one is a favourite, a great, suspenseful book, recommended for everyone who loves good, well crafted fantasy with character growth and original creatures and doesn t mind non consensual man on man sex Updated review at www.reviewsbyjessewave.com This was my first book by either Sarah Monette or Elizabeth Bear, but I doubt it will be my last I ve seen this compared to McCaffrey s Pern series, but I haven t read that, nor do I think I will, so I can t really speak on that I can, however, give you my reaction to this book First, let me just say that if you are adverse to reading about male male sex, this is not the book for you I read a lot of complaints about the graphicness of the sex in this book and while I don t agree with that, because I ve both read and written graphic sex scenes without blinking an eyelash, there is enough description to affect people with delicate sensibilities on the subject Also, there were a couple scenes depicting what some people called gang rape, and I don t necessarily agree, but I ll get into that later.At first this book was kind of hard to get into When I heard about it initially, I didn t consider it my usual fare, since it s labeled as purely fantasy and there is no outright romance although I like to think that Isolfr, Vethulf, and Skjaldwulf lived happily ever after, arguing like an old married threesome However, I read my friend s review and I was intrigued enough to eventually buy the book On top of my intial hesitation because of the lack of romance, the languages used to form the one used in this book a combination of Norse, Anglo Saxon, and German are unfamiliar to me, so I didn t have a clue how to pronounce many of the names This bugged me for a while until I decided to mentally sound out each unfamiliar name word that I came across and stick with that pronunciation for the remainder of the novel and I m willing to be that I probably butchered about 75% of it Also, there were name changes which were confusing until you got used to who everyone was, and that made for some slow reading because you had to think back and say who is this again Once I got passed all that, it was time to get to the meat of the story Basically, this is set in a world not unlike the region of Scandinavia and the warriors in this world are similar to the historical Vikings of that area It isn t set on Earth, however, but a world of their own invention called Iskryne In this world, the villages owe their allegiance to their local wolfheall They tithe to the wolfheall, and in return the warriors of the wolfheall, the men who are bonded with wolves, protect them from the northern trolls and wyverns Part of the tithe are young boys of a certain age who are given over to the wolfheall in the hopes that one of the wolf cubs will bond with them and they ll become wolfcarls The main character, known as Njall, is one of the tithe boys and he decides to go the wolfheall against his father s wishes because he feels it s his honor bound duty Long story short, he goes despite all of the stories he s heard about the craziness that goes on in the wolfhealls He s eventually chosen by a female wolf cub, a konigenwolf in waiting, which means that she will eventually be the alpha of her own pack He develops a telepathic bond with the wolf and a sense of the pack of all of the other wolves and wolfcarls The wolves don t necessarily communicate with words, but smells and images, and all of the wolves are named by their smells For example, his wolf is named Viradechtis, which describes the smell of sun warmed pine and summer Soon he learns what it means to be bonded to a she wolf He finds out that when the bitch comes into her heat, he ll experience what she does and the other men of the wolfheall will react the way male wolves would respond to a bitch in heat And that he ll be mounted by whatever wolfcarl corresponds to each wolf the bitch allows to mount her This only goes on until the bitch s heat breaks, but this means that if the female chooses to accept 6 wolves, he ll be having sex with 6 men This is where the whole gang rape thing comes into play Maybe I m in the minority here, but I look at it like this the wolf chooses the man, not the other way around, but once a wolf chooses, the man is not obligated to stay at the wolfheall He can accept and submit to what it means to be bonded to a female wolf, or he can leave Granted, it s a matter of honor and his would be tarnished if he chose to go, but no one would force him to stay As such, I consider it a choice he made Yeah, maybe it s a rock and a hard place kind of choice, but he still has other options if the idea of being taken by all these men is repugnant to him And it s not like he s fighting and saying no and the men are holding him down and taking him anyway When it starts out, he willingly lies down for it and he s wanting sex as much as his female wolf and the men are just responding to the urges of their counterpart wolves Of course that doesn t mean that he won t be praying for it to end after a while or that the men will all be nice and gentle, but having sex with one guy isn t the same as having sex with another Some will be rough, some will be gentle, some in between Also, these men are being driven by their base urges During these matings, tensions and emotions are running high and everyone is reacting on instinct, so both men and wolves can be killed or hurt In my opinion, it has to be taken in context and, in this situation, it is what it is I don t consider it rape or non con sex, although I ve seen some people refer to it as dub con dubious consent and I might agree with that Sure, maybe under normal circumstances you wouldn t choose to have sex with Grimolfr, Eyjolfr, or whoever, but in this situation your wolf is doing the choosing and you have to accept it And if you can t accept it, you can leave and no one will try to stop you Just my 0.02 on the subject and I m fairly sensitive on the subject of rape One thing that was interesting about this world was conception of gender roles I can t recall the times that Isolfr thought that he didn t want to be perceived as womanish because in this culture of male warriors women are the weaker sex that are supposed to cook, keep house, and breed and it s the responsibility of the men folk to protect them But in the other cultures the wolves, the trolls, the svartalfar the females are either the stronger, dominant ones or they re considered equally capable warriors smiths etc The svartalf Tin doesn t like the word women and all that it implies Even though she s a female of her species, she s not defined by that She defines herself as a Mastersmith and a member of the Iron Kinship Her physical sex is inconsequential And Isolfr learns from her and even from the trolls throughout the course of the novel and I thought that was kind of poetic.I recommend this if you re a fantasy fan and not disturbed by the idea of gay sex Let me stress, though, that this is not a gay romance If you re looking for a love story, look elsewhere There is love in this story, there are couples, but it s all a backdrop While I like to believe that Isolfr will eventually develop feelings for his wolfjarls, just based on some of the things he thinks, particularly about Skjaldwulf, he s still kind of distant by the end and uncomfortable with claiming either of them as his lover I think this was worth the read, though, and it has definite re read potential Also, I ve seen that Bear and Monette have two sequels in the works and I m looking forward to reading them At first I really loved this book I loved the premise of a group of men who, in order to protect human villages from trolls, have formed a fighting society in which each becomes in essence, a soul mate to a wolf The pack includes not only a strong brotherhood, which is appealing, but also a certain amount of sacrifice, i.e having to mate with each other when the alpha she wolf mates with the other male wolves Sacrifice for the main character others in the group seem to enjoy it The culture and language of such a society is well thought out and rather brutal in its reality But after a while the world building lost its charm and I wondered what the story was really about, since the central character, Isolfr, who bonds with the pup who becomes the dominant she wolf of the pack, doesn t seem to want or need anything except the regard of his father, which he can t have because his father is horrified by the idea of the m m sex that goes on Towards the end of the book Isolfr is described as cold and that seems to be the case as he doesn t seem to bond with his human brothers, not in the same way that he s bonded with his beloved wolf So, I felt the story lacked a central focus All the battles with the trolls left me cold as I didn t feel that the outcome was in doubt In addition, there are an awful lot of characters and names to learn here and, aside from the main character and his family, most of the pack characters seemed to blend together I found the same thing true of the Melusine series, by one of the authors here, Sarah Monette, that in the end, there is much, albeit well written, ado about nothing. I hate to be this negative, but I ll get right to the point, I simply did not enjoy this story I feel as though the authors asked a whole lot of the reader in the way of suspending disbelief but gave very little pay off for it I felt that the sexual aspect was totally unnecessary and, as a gay reader, I felt that the homosexual element was insulting in a number of ways, chief among them being that it was never portrayed as something the main character actually desired Sure it was generally consensual emphasis on the generally but he basically just feared and tolerated being buggered by men He had a girlfriend at the beginning of the story before he left, he slept with countless women within the wolf camp, and he got a local village girl PREGNANT Why was all this even in a gay themed piece of literature And in between all of that he was basically getting rammed in the butt by his male peers, none of which encounters did he actually initiate or want though it was easy for the authors to say that he got erect once it started happening, as though autonomic response truly equals desire At one point he gets basically raped by about 7 or 8 men in rapid succession until he literally passes out, all for the good of his female wolf and their connection and so that she may get pregnant I realized at that point that I no longer trusted that the authors really cared about what they were writing and as a result my heart was no longer in the story In the beginning the writing was nice because of the descriptions and the prose but I quickly realized that the authors were not going to be kind to a gay reader like myself Please don t misunderstand I get what they were TRYING to do The whole deep connection between a boy and his wolf thing, sacrificing himself for the good of his wolf, making his own definition of honor, upholding his duties, coming of age It could have all been great But honestly I just feel as though this story failed miserably Also, the spelling of some of the names kept changing and that was confusing To sum it up, at the foundation of this story you have a young man of 16, with a girlfriend whom he is already sexually active with , who gets taken away from his home he is basically an heir in line to rule the land and sent to a society of men and wolves who live together and fight trolls There he gets bonded to a female wolf, is fawned over and courted by many of the men and boys in the camp though he has no interest in them , allows these men to have sex with him and passively endures it simply because his wolf is worth it , fights some trolls, has sex with women, gets a girl pregnant, fights some trolls, endures sex with men, makes a name for himself, and that s it Seriously Surely these writers had something better in mind Who is the target audience for this story I may have actually enjoyed it better if they had just left out all mention of sex and sexuality and talked about this world of man wolf bonding in greater detail I could actually see a greater story in that, something closer to a young adult story in the way of Lord of the Flies or something As it stands, this ended up being a terrible story with lazy, insulting writing that tried to be deeper than what it was Clearly someone somewhere did a lot of over estimating about this story s appeal. 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 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 view spoiler when a trellwitch, a survivor of the battle, is begging please, please for Isolfr to spare the troll kitten she was clutching hide spoiler