Sep. 9th, 2016

justira: A purple, gender-ambiguous unicorn pony in the style of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. (lady business)
[personal profile] justira
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Cover image of Black Wolves by Kate Elliott

For readers of Brent Weeks and fans of Netflix's Marco Polo comes a rich and inspired fantasy tale of warriors and nobles who must take the most desperate gamble of all: awaken allies more destructive than the hated king they hope to overthrow. Kate Elliott's new trilogy is an unmissable treat for epic fantasy lovers everywhere.

An exiled captain returns to help the son of the king who died under his protection in this rich and multi-layered first book in an action-packed new series.

Twenty two years have passed since Kellas, once Captain of the legendary Black Wolves, lost his King and with him his honor. With the King murdered and the Black Wolves disbanded, Kellas lives as an exile far from the palace he once guarded with his life.

Until Marshal Dannarah, sister to the dead King, comes to him with a plea-rejoin the palace guard and save her nephew, King Jehosh, before he meets his father's fate.

Combining the best of Shogun and Netflix's Marco Polo, Black Wolves is an unmissable treat for epic fantasy lovers everywhere.

I've done two reviews now that were all about books playing with tropes. It's been a couple of months, so it's definitely time for a new one!

First of all, the cover copy for Black Wolves is dead wrong. Kellas is one of the main characters, but there are five of them, and three are women. Dannarah is arguably most central, and she barely gets mentioned in the copy. But that is the first trope that is being played with! The book starts off with roughly 100 pages of 30-year old Kellas POV, and I think Kate Elliot is doing something here that is similar to what N. K. Jemisin did with Fifth Season (WARNING: Spoilers for said book at the link!): she is giving you an easy in into this world and this story, then pulling the rug out from under you. Well, that is to say: easy in if you go by standard epic fantasy tropes and statistics. Personally I found the first 100 pages hardest to get through because I am just kind of done with fit young cis straight dudes and their drama. But then you turn the page and bam, 59 year old Dannarah. Now things get interesting — and now we really get into a conversation with and about epic fantasy.

Black Wolves, as [personal profile] renay and other reviewers have said, plays with a lot of tropes and expectations surrounding epic fantasy. I'm going to divide this into three topics: worldbuilding, power, and gender. Before I continue, I will also say that I have not read the Crossroads books, which are set in the same world. Reading them is not necessary to reading Black Wolves. And now, on to the worldbuilding!

Read more... )


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