This review is about “A Companion to Wolves” by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette.
Well. What to say about this book? The first fifty to seventy pages were good? Yeah. That sounds about right. The world and the land and the culture was introduced in those pages, and it was interesting. The way the authoresses took inspiration in the icelandic/viking culture and language was a nice touch, and the way that the, well, let’s call them civilians looked upon the wolfcarls was very well done. The world that the main character, young Isolfr, is introduced to is wild and vibrant and raw. The fight against the trolls – the enemy of the wolfcarls – is interesting and the black elves are a nice addition.
That’s just about where the good things stop.
After those seventy or so introductory pages things take a turn for the porn. I am not exaggerating. By my estimate about 10% was the introduction, 85% was engulfed by gay porn and drama and rape thrown in for good measure, with a measly 5% left for the ending. I have nothing against gay or porn, or both at the same time, but not when it takes over the book. In the end I was far less interested in the fight with the trolls or the black elves or the threesome that evolved between Isolfr and two others, I just wanted it to end.
And Isolfr is also made into the stereotypical uke/submissive. Not only through his wolf friend – an alpha female – but also through other things. How he tries to become as big and butch as the other wolfcarls, but can’t. How he tries to grow out his beard and hair to wear in the same way the others do, but can’t. How he makes the choice that your average Mary Sue would make in a fanfic, and creates nothing but trouble for everyone else. It was too stereotypical. I have read gay manga and fanfics that were better. The potential of the world built up in the first seventy pages was thoroughly decimated in the rest of the book.
Unless you wish for an example of how authors can thoroughly destroy their books – or to read it for sheer masochistic torture – I will not recommend this book to anyone. Nor will I recommend the sequel.