Wolfblade opens a new Hythrun trilogy for fans and newcomers. Review by S.K. Slevinski

Book Cover
Released last January in the US—after a 2004 printing in Australia—Wolfblade is the first book in Jennifer Fallon's prequel trilogy to the to the Hythrun Demon Child books (the first of which is Medalon) which were her debut. In the meantime, she has also released the autonomous Second Sons showing her breadth of skill as a fantasist. For fans who have read either or both of her previous trilogies, Wolfblade does not disappoint.

This story follows, among other characters, Marla Wolfblade, the part-romantic part-cynical princess of Hythria. Marla's brother Lernen has placed the burden on her for producing an heir to the Wolfblade line, preferring not to marry himself, selfishly clinging to dark appetites. Along with getting an heir, Lernen hopes to use Marla to broker alliance with a neighboring king—the political situation in Hythria is delicate, and the warlords often wield more power than the Prince Lernen, himself. When Marla makes her opposition to this union vocal, the allies of warlord Laran Krakenshield draw her into their plotting, hoping to convince her to marry Laran. While Marla's heart lies with another man completely, and sees Laran as little preferable to the distant king, she makes a shrewd decision to put politics over romance. While admitting her dependent status as a woman on the political scene, Marla quickly learns to navigate the waters of Hythrun politics with the help of dwarf courtesan, Elezaar—a man with mysterious ambitions of his own.

One of Fallon's foremost virtues is her prizing of character over concept—and most certainly over formula. If you're expecting the young romantic Marla to be moping over having to marry the man she doesn't love, or finally to get the lover of her dreams in the end, then you should move one aisle over to the "Romance" shelf. Fallon is writing a political fantasy where love and marriage are often the game pieces, where the story unfolds as characters act and react to one another. It's worth noting that Wolfblade represents something of a hybrid between Fallon's previous two trilogies. While it still retains the system of magic and gods first introduced in the first Hythrun trilogy, the main conflict is driven by political conflict to an extent closer to Second Sons.

Hythrun fans will be delighted with the story of Wolfblade, as well as the insights into the history of the Hythrun world. Second Sons fans who have been considering giving the Hythrun Chronicles a try would do very well to start with Wolfblade. In fact, I would recommend to new readers, unfamiliar with Fallon's work, to start with the Wolfblade trilogy and move chronologically through the Hythun Chronicles. Take advantage of Fallon's unique talent for writing self-contained trilogies that can be picked up straight away without first reading the previous books in a related series.

S.K. Slevinski is senior editor for ARWZ Literary Magazine and a long time reader of alternative reality fiction. She is currently a graduate student, specializing in folklore.