If you check out the range of reviews on Amazon for A Companion to Wolves , you’ll find quite a range.
That’s because of sex. Yep, this is a dark, Nordic fantasy Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette wrote in response to the prevalent “bonded telepathically to an animal” genre of fantasy.
And it’s a response, not an answer, wherein they imagine what would happen if only men bonded to both female and male wolves, and were…ah….overhwelmed….by the sexual feelings of the wolves when the females went into heat.
I have to say that I still haven’t quite figured out my own response to this book. Except that I read it greedily, wanting to find out what happens and how the hero, a nobleman’s son, figures out how politics and his own desires.
I liked this better than some of Elizabeth Bear’s singular work, as the characters weren’t overly overly angsty. I’ve read Sarah Monette as well and I thinked they worked well together in this book. One of my major griefs is that I think all the issues they wanted to handle, plus the cool world of the trolls, plus the svartalfar, plus the politics, plus gender politics, plus the politics of desire, plus telepathic wolves, plus…(you see where I’m going with this) was too much for this one book.
Not that it was boring, just…not as immediate and in depth in some parts as I might have wished. I wanted more about the main character’s developing relationships, more of his development as a warrior, and more with the burgeoning knowledge of the trolls and svartalfar and that effect on how the men saw themselves.
I would not recommend this book to everyone. The sex parts are quite graphic and at least two scenes quite disturbing (and I wouldn’t leave it lying around the house, either if you have reading children under a certain age). However, it did grab my attention and make me think, and therefore I found it worthwhile.
Heavily guardedly recommended.