It is the fifteenth century, and three kingdoms are caught up in the dire conflicts of their time. As the possibility of a peaceful resolution provides hope that a decade-long war will finally end, no one realizes that dark forces are waiting to invoke chaos as a full moon rises.I love reading historical fantasy novels. The Pack, volume one in the Run With the Wolves series by T c Tombs, is no exception.
On a farm nestled beneath the Euralene Mountains along the western border of Medinia, young Willie works for the Smythes as a serf. One moonlit evening when the Smythes are gone to a neighbouring village, Willie hears the terrified cries of animals in the pastures. When he goes to investigate, he discovers that this wolf pack attack is like no other. Badly injured during the raid, he survives-but now he is afflicted by the full-moon madness that will soon transform him into one of the wolf creatures he dreads. With his life seemingly warped forever, Willie must face the prospect of a lifelong descent into horror.
In a time of witchcraft, superstitious folk lore, and fear-some creatures roaming the night, Willie struggles with an uncertain destiny and must seek help from the one man he holds most responsible for the dark fate that awaits him during the next full moon cycle.
Medinia and Skoland are always at odds it seems. However, the rulers of both lands have decided that it's time for peace, as they're draining their coffers of much needed funds. Talks of an arranged marriage between the daughter of the king in Medinia and the son of the king in Skoland are taking place as well.
Willie was given to the Smythes by the monks in the monastery and wants nothing more than to go along with his friend and his master when they leave one afternoon, but is left to care for the homestead and the animals, as is his job, with the promise of perhaps going to see the caravan when it arrives in the fall. He doesn't know that his life is going to change forever just a few hours after he's left on his own.
A pack of wolves, too big to be normal wolves, and what looks to be wolf-men descend on the farmland of Willie's master. In a fierce, but unfortunately predictable battle, Willie loses his 2 furry companions and his horse, as well as several of his masters herd. Most of all, Willie's blood is now poisoned with the same affliction that plagues the two dozen men and wolves that attacked him.
Varakov. A third kingdom situated in such a position that they control the mountain pass and therefore everything that moves in to the other two. It's well fortified and resplendent... and ruled by a king who is dark and cruel and seemingly the very definition of evil. He's not please that the neighboring kingdoms have thrown down their weapons, so to speak. A union between the two could very well mean the down fall of his own kingdom, and he refuses to let that happen.
This book started out with a bang. A sad one, as I hate to see animals die - it breaks my heart completely - but a bang none the less. It literally made my heart ache reading about the loyalty Willie's dogs showed their friend in their final moments. The fact that it was virtually at the beginning of the book just made it worse.
It slowed down quite a bit after the initial action. As a result, it was a tad tedious to read in some places. But, I've got to give the author credit. There was a LOT of world building to do. You get a lot of the history of the countries and background on The Pack and the relationship between Woodrow and the other members (especially Brutus, who I like MUCH better when there isn't a full moon). It's very descriptive, perhaps unnecessarily so in some places. But the details make it easy to picture the setting of the story.
Woodrow was a quiet character. Someone who seemed to have begrudgingly taken his place at the helm of the pack. He was loyal even when loyalty wasn't earned nor deserved. And he was kind even when he didn't have to be.
Lord Victor absolutely disgusted me. He was foul and just absolutely horrible. If I had been watching this as a movie, I'm not sure I would have been able to keep from covering my eyes during parts of his "dinner party". I have a strong stomach for gore, but senseless torture much less so. Finding out what he was and how he was able to do the things he did just cemented my dislike for him in stone. For any of you who have read the Graceling Realm trilogy by Kristin Cashore, he reminded me of Leck. I hated Leck, too.
I would have to say that one of my favorite characters was Vinnie. Leader of the "gang" of Ohs, he seemed to be one of the most level headed in Varakov.While everyone around him was sucked in to the sickening debauchery and the violence of all that went on around him on a regular basis, he was still able to keep his wits about him. And he was still in his right mind to be bothered by much of what went on. He had a conscience.
All in all, not a bad story. I could have done with a LITTLE bit less description and a LITTLE bit more dialogue and action in the first half of the book, but I'd say it's definitely well done. And it's a story I'd recommend to any fantasy lover. Well, any fantasy lover probably over the age of 16 as there are some absolutely horrible scenes and lots of gore. Not sure younger fantasy fans would be good with that. It's also nice to read a new take on the werewolf. Don't get me wrong, I love love LOVE The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater, but I always love it when I get back to the root of the monster, ya know? When I get to read about them in a way they originally were, but with a new-ish twist. If that makes sense.
If it doesn't, you should still check out the book.
P.S. It also helped that for some reason when I was reading, the voice narrating the story for me in my head was Matt Smith. If you know who he is you get major points with me.