wolf of the north

Review of the Wolf of the North trilogy by Duncan M. Hamilton

People want an exotic hero, someone who stands apart from them. No one wants to hear about the man from two fields over who becomes a great hero. That only makes them feel bad for not doing it themselves.

Introduction

The “Wolf of the North” trilogy is written by Duncan M. Hamilton, author of the excellent “Society of the Sword” series. The trilogy is at it’s a core a heroic fantasy – it is the story of Wulfric Wolframson who braves all odds for love and revenge.

This trilogy is basically one long story broken into three books. The Wolf of the North is a coming of age story where Wulfric becomes a warrior. Jorundyr’s Path is the story of how he matures as a warrior. The Blood Debt tells the story of his revenge. This story of Wulfric is told from multiple points of view, thought there is a nominal narrator.

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Recommendation

I thoroughly enjoyed the series and would give a strong recommend to readers interested in fantasy specifically, heroic fantasy.

I am sucker for heroic fantasy. Stories which have mortal men who struggle against all odds by sheer blood and guts appeals to me like no other. Pop psychology might say it is because I have grown up on Indian mythology which typically has larger than life heroes. But that is neither here not there. What is relevant is the fact that Duncan M. Hamilton has written something brilliant here. His writing reminds me of David Gemmell’s in a lot of ways –  the violence, the characters, the plot etc. Wulfric is Druss and Waylander and any of the other heroes.

The standout feature of the series is the writing. It drew me in and forced me to finish the entire series as soon as possible. It is crisp and fast. The dialogues were also great. For example:

‘I am Wulfric Wolframson,’ he shouted, spittle flying from his mouth. ‘I am First Warrior of Leondorf. I have slain two belek. I killed the man who owned this helmet, and many others. Dozens of your comrades have fallen to my sword today. I am Jorundyr’s Chosen, and every man who stands before me today will die!’

or this one

He half expected deformities, crazed, manic behaviour; something, anything, that would mark them out as being his natural enemy. He was disappointed. It was more difficult to hate someone who looked just like the man who lived in the next house.

The characters were all uniformly well-developed. Every main character has a character arc. Their motivations are believable and even the villains don’t delude themselves into thinking that they are doing something good. In a nutshell, the characters are everyday humans that we can relate too (well except for the fact they are in a fantasy medieval land).

This series is fast paced and there is never a dull moment. As I mentioned earlier, I could not put down the books. The world building is pretty average. Medieval post-apocalyptic Northern Europe with some magic thrown in. The one negative is the quick switching of POVs in a chapter. There were many times when I was getting excited about one character when the POV shifted to another one.

Other Thoughts (Spoilers warning)

Spoilers below. Continue reading at your peril.

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Unlike David Gemmell, this is less about an independence struggle than about the love story and revenge. The Northlanders, while contemptuous of the South, still adopt their ways including Wulfric.

I disliked the ending. There is an abrupt transition from the main story (which happened in the past) to the present where Wulfric exacts his actual revenge. I want to know what happened in the interim. And I also did not like how the revenge scene was over in a handful of pages.

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Also published on Medium.