Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Book Review - Wolfblade

Wolfblade - Jennifer Fallon

I had never heard of Jennifer Fallon, she is not a name frequently mentioned on any of the forums I frequent and so when I saw this trilogy with their great covers winking at me from a charity shop with their great covers, I was intrigued. A quick scan of the blurbs and I decided it could be a series I was interested.
The books sat on my shelf for quite a while, by that time I had discovered that Jennifer is actually highly regarded and this series is supposed to be very good. Alas, the urge took me and I plunged into reading the first volume.
The Blurb:
Marla Wolfblade of Hythria is determined to restore her family's great name, but conspirators surround her: the Sorcerers' Collective, the Patriots -- even members of her own family.  She must make sure her son Damin lives to be old enough to restore the Wolfblade name to its former glory.

Elezaar the Dwarf is a small man with big secrets -- but that doesn't matter to Marla Wolfblade. Her brother is the High Prince of Hythria, and, in this fiercely patriarchal society, her fate will be decided on his whim. She needs someone politically astute to guide her through the maze of court politics -- and Elezaar the Dwarf knows more than he lets on.

As Elezaar teaches Marla the Rules of Gaining and Wielding Power, Marla starts on the road to becoming a tactician and a wily diplomat -- but will that be enough to keep her son alive?
I was unsure what to make of the book for the first 100 pages or so. Parts of it were really good, others moved along at a swift pace with a certain amount of detachment from the action and some parts I thought the dialogue was a bit weak.
However, I felt the story got better and better as it progressed. As the blurb indicates the book focuses on Marla Wolfblade but there are several other characters who received point of view chapters.
Marla is quite an intriguing. I hated her at first, her petulant behaviour, coupled with her propensity to fall in love within seconds on anyone she met reminded me of a teenage, paranormal romance. However, this was only in parts and she drastically improved as she became more self aware of her importance and the political impact she could have.
Marla’s development is well handled. It would be easy to have her transform into a doe-eyed teenager into a shrewd politician but Jennifer Fallon makes sure she is far from perfect. She is easily manipulated at times and makes rash decisions at others.
The other POV characters are mostly solid. Wrayan is the most intriguing and his arc is the one with arguably the biggest story going forward but others are enjoyable to read. Jennifer Fallon tries to paint most of her villains in shades of grey but she does not always succeed. Some characters are just evil no matter how Fallon tries to justify their actions.
The High Prince is the weakest character in the book and he is the most important. It is a shame as Jennifer could have had a lot of fun with him and his depraved nature, but instead he is relegated to the background and is one dimensional at best.
Another character that does not quite succeed is Elezar the dwarf. His aim is to become indispensible  to Marla by advising her to use her political station to her advantage. However, rather than fleshing out his character and giving him his own motives, this remains his goal throughout. Again, although he is enjoyable enough, you feel there is a missed opportunity there.
I don’t want to sound to negative about this book as it would not be doing it justice. Whilst some parts of the book were a little “off” for me, I enjoyed it immensely. As it drew to a close I found myself thinking more and more about the book when I wasn’t reading it. A sign of a good book in my opinion.
Overall, as an introduction to Jennifer Fallon, Wolfblade impressed me. There are things that I would improve but there was much for me to recommend.
My rating 8.6