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Best Fantasy Debut of 2010,
This review is from: Wolfsangel (Paperback)Wolfsangel is one those novels I'd been anticipating for quite some time. I met the author, MD Lachlan, at World Horror Con and had been following his Twitter updates for some time prior to publication of the novel. Wolfsangel is not his first published book; he's written contemporary novels under his own name (Mark Barrowcliffe); he's also worked as a journalist and even a stand-up comedian. Now Lachlan is taking his first steps into the world of genre fiction with an outstanding tale of Vikings, werewolves and gods.
The story begins with a Viking king, Authun who, at the behest of a witch queen, is en route to another land to take a child from its people. Authun, "descendant of Odin", is ruthless in his quest, taking men he knows will be left behind to die in order to keep a secret from his subjects. His wife has given him only daughters, he has no heir; the witch queen has presented him with both the means to trick his wife into believing she is giving birth to the stolen child and a prophecy that this child, a child of the gods, will lead his people to conquer the earth.
When Authun and his men reach their destination, the king's rock solid belief in the witch's prophecy is briefly shattered. There are two children, not one. Unable to decide which child to take, Authun eventually takes both, along with their mother, believing the witch queen will know which child is to be his heir and fulfil the prophecy.
The twin boys are soon separated, one to be raised as Authun's heir, the other to be raised by berserks and then wolves; neither child is aware of the other's existence. Inevitably the twins are, in time, drawn back into each other's lives. Vali, Authun's son, has spent much of his adolescence in a neighbouring kingdom; Feileg, for reasons I won't go into, is captured by Vali and then, having been freed by Vali's sweetheart, Adisla, he finds himself bound to Vali's quest.
Wolfsangel was an absolute joy to read. Lachlan creates a story which works beautifully on so many levels. It reaches far beyond the usual quest-based fantasies, digging deep into Norse mythology to add richness to the text and authenticity to the actions and beliefs of each character. To anyone who has dipped their toes into the murky, bloody waters of Norse mythology and sagas, it's clear Lachlan has researched this story thoroughly and to excellent effect.
The violence of the action scenes, particularly those scenes with the berserks, is as visceral as it need be yet Lachlan in no way relies on fights and raids to keep the reader turning the pages.
What keeps those pages turning is something far deeper and more intriguing. The mythology and mysticism are utterly spellbinding (no pun intended), creating a strong sense of entwined fates between each of the main characters. Lachlan has created characters about whom we care; we want to know about this prophecy, we need to know just what part the gods play in this story.
Beautiful storytelling, wonderful characters, deeply authentic feel to the narrative and positively dripping with wolf symbolism and Old Norse werewolf mythology; Wolfsangel is, for me at least, the best fantasy debut of 2010.