Book Review: The Tiger and the Wolf
In the bleak northern crown of the world, war is coming
Maniye’s father is the Wolf clan’s chieftain, but she’s an outcast. Her mother was queen of the Tiger and these tribes have been enemies for generations. Maniye also hides a deadly secret. All can shift into their clan’s animal form, but Maniye can take on tiger and wolf shapes. She can’t disown half her soul, so escapes – with the killer Broken Axe in pursuit.
Maniye’s father plots to rule the north, and controlling his daughter is crucial to his schemes. However, other tribes also prepare for strife. It’s a season for omens as priests foresee danger, a time of testing and broken laws. Some say a great war is coming, overshadowing even Wolf ambitions. But what spark will set the world ablaze?
Adrian Tchaikovsky, the man behind one of the series that shook and shaped modern fantasy. The Shadows of the Apt series. This will haunt him forever in a good and perhaps bad way. Everything that he writes will undoubtedly be compared to this series, either intentionally or not.
Last year he broke ground with writing two standalone books, and this year he returns with a new epic fantasy series, for me already a winner.
Imagine a world of shapeshifters, for those not familiar, people who can assume the form of animals. Just this bit should appease to the Epic Fantasy fan. Instead of writing about insect civilizations as in Shadows of the Apt, Adrian Tchaikovsky creates a crossover between human and animal with this idea. Anyway. The Tiger and the Wolf picks up with the Maniye who lives with the Winter runners a, a tribe of Wolf shapeshifters, but she is learning and understanding some of the changes that are happening to hear. Maniye isn’t a Wolf shifter alone. Back in the days when the Wolf was conquering land her father defeated the Tiger tribe and took the queen of the Tiger tribe as one of his wives, she was the only one able to give him a child, Maniye. Making her a half Wolf, half Tiger and making her doubt of what is best. Driven to a sort of desperation by her father, she sees only one escape and that is to flee the Wolf tribe together with a Serpent shifter who guides her. If only it were that easy for Maniye as she was important in more than one way to what her father was planning, hence her father’s right hand, Broken Axe is send in pursuit of Maniye to return her home to him. During Maniye’s escape and subsequent fleeing for her live for Broken Axe, a whole new world opens up for her… And it seems that she wasn’t only key to her father’s plans…
A unique bit of the book and where other fall short is the way that Adrian Tchaikovsky fully utilizes the concept of the different animal tribes. This is similar to the powerful cultures that he showed with the Shadows series. I liked how Adrian Tchaikovsky explored each tribe and how well the natures of the different animals were reflected in the tribes. This produced that epic feeling of grandeur for me, by creating such a solid foundation it just cannot fail whatever he does. The viciousness of the Wolfs, the solitary Beers, the gentle Horses they all speak for themselves. Adrian Tchaikovsky really knows how to turn some ordinary things into some quite extraordinary.
Next to this piece of amazing world building, Adrian Tchaikovsky also makes sure that the characters of the book receive more than enough attention. For starters the main protagonist of the story, Maniye is really something beautiful. A young girl who is facing a lot of problem already in her young life. Torn between two allegiances you see her struggling whether to accept the Tiger or the Wolf or swear of both. These internal struggles are portrayed very nice from the beginning on. Due to the challenges that Maniye faces she directly gets into a learning curve and this is what makes her character even better. Granted she still has her naïve moments but who hasn’t? Next to Maniye the supporting cast are also there with a purpose. I particularly liked the companion of Maniye, the Snake priest, Hesperc, he is a wise old man but still has that needed edge of humor about him. As I mentioned the other supporting cast like the killer Broken Axe and Asmander are all there for a reason and fleshed out in a good way both human and animal.
The bottom-line conclusion? You never know what you can expect with Adrian Tchaikovsky but you can bet you money that it will be awesome. This first instalment of the Echoes of the Fall series, The Tiger and the Wolf, is all that you look for an a fresh and exciting and well thought through Epic Fantasy series. As you can expect from him, the writing style is easy to get into and even though this book clocks in with 500+ pages, its over to soon.