FANTASY// The Wolf- Leo Carew*

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The Wolf is the first installment of the upcoming Under the Northern Sky series, which is being hailed as the next Game of Thrones, but it kind of… isn’t. Yes, there are battles and the story is mixed up with mythology (I spotted references to Welsh and Norse mythology, I’m sure there’s more I missed), but there are no dragons or sex scenes here.

If The Wolf is anything to go by, this will be a series full of dense plots and subplots, the kind that has fans endlessly discussing who will play which character in the film adaptation. There are terrific fight scenes and the protagonist, Roper, is a flawed hero in the best tradition. After the death of his father in battle, he becomes the Dark Lord of the gigantic  Anakim, who live in the Dark Kingdom, a sort of fictional  versionof early medieval Scotland, I think, all wild scenery and brutal warriors, although names feel Viking- there’s a lot of early European stuff to unpack in this novel and I did Google some bits to check I hadn’t dreamt I’d heard of them before.) The Anakim are in constant battle with the Sutherners, led by a commoner upstart who is having an affair with the queen. There are plots, intrigue and murder to keep happy those who like their historical fantasy to come with a side-order of deep suspicion.

I did struggle with this novel at the start; I find battle scenes hard to follow and these are huge. However, once I got sucked into the plotting and history of the story, I understood it more. I’ll definitely be watching the series’ progression with interest, but I’m not sure if it’s quite my cup of tea; but then, I only ever read the first GoT book, too.

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