Regulars to this site will know that Tchaikovsky is a favourite author of mine and last year I read and reviewed the first book, The Tiger and the Wolf, in this latest epic fantasy offering and loved it.
Maniye, child of Wolf and Tiger, has a new soul and a new shape. But as Champion of the Crown of the World, does she represent an opportunity for the North – or a threat? Travelling as a bodyguard to the Southern prince, with her warband of outcasts, she hopes to finally discover her true place in the world, though she is quickly pitchforked in the middle of a crisis that puts her at the eye of a political storm.
For those of you tempted by the cool cover to plunge in and pick up this one without reading the first book in the series, my advice would be don’t. Though Tchaikovsky provides a ‘Story So Far’ – a development that I thoroughly approve of – the first book is a tour de force and you’ll miss far too much of the wonderful richness of this amazing world. A world where people are defined by their clans and what they shape-shift into when they reach puberty. A world riven by constant wars and fights between the clans. A pre-agrarian society, where the secret of smelting iron belongs to the Wolf and the rest of the clans make do with bronze weapons.
While The Tiger and the Wolf mostly features the adventures of Maniye, the outcast child of the Wolf, this sequel branches off and we have another main protagonist, the Champion of the Bear, Lord Thunder. He has been dragged unwillingly right into the middle of the ferment caused when catastrophe overtakes the Seal people. A rather grumpy character possessing great strength and a short temper, he has no desire to become any kind of leader. I like the humour that comes from his struggles to deal with the political in-fighting, while he yearns to retreat once more into solitude – though that humour is tempered by the undertow of threat that runs through the book.
In common with much epic fantasy, there is Something Nasty and Worldchanging the prophesies are all saying is just around the corner. And indeed, Tchaikovsky’s talent for writing gripping action scenes and battles comes in handy as the book builds up to a page-turning climax that meant I read far into the wee small hours to discover how it all turns out. Anyone who has read Tchaikovsky’s Spiderlight and Children of Time will know he’s the master of unintended consequences, and while the main storyline is satisfactorily concluded in this action-packed book, there are some intriguing plotlines left dangling for the next in this series. Classic epic fantasy isn’t my favourite sub-genre, but Echoes of the Fall has a place in my heart – I dreamt of it when I finally fell asleep. So it comes very highly recommended.
While I obtained the arc of The Bear and the Serpent from the publisher via NetGalley, this has in no way influenced my unbiased review.
This is probably a bit too much on the fantasy side for me, but my Better Half might love it. Only problem is that the protagonist is a “girl…” (Remember, now, he grew up in the 50’s.) However with the Bear, if he is tough enough, he might enjoy it. Advice?
It is quite gritty and tough – remember it’s written by a man and he is also a student of longsword fighting:). You’ll probably be able to get hold of the first bok in the library as he is now reasonably established.
We had to go out of the system to get the series; they’re sending it down to Alvin (pop. 24,000) from Austin, our state capital. God bless the Texas Public Library System! I was ready to purchase the series from Amazon, but it would have been hardback and quite expensive. This way we can “try out” the author. I think we will both want to read them. thanks for helping me read out of my usual genre. And a thanks from my husband as well.
I very much hope you enjoy them:).
Great review, sounds like a good book and a series I need to check out! 🙂
Oh yes – I think this would be one you’d like, Drew!
Another 10/10. You are on a roll. And you mention dreaming about it. It must have really got to you!
I know! It’s going to make choosing my favourite read of the month difficult… But a lovely situation to be in, though:).
This series grabs my attention but I’m reluctant. I might not be the target of classic epic fantasy either – I didn’t even finish the Shadows of the Apt series: two books and then… I was happy to read the blurbs of the rest of the books.
Maybe I’m not a “long series” person?