cover image The Wolf: Under the Northern Sky, Book 1

The Wolf: Under the Northern Sky, Book 1

Leo Carew. Orbit, $15.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-0-316-52137-6

Carew’s gripping and ambitious epic fantasy debut introduces a world closely mapped to Viking-era Europe, with intriguingly differences. Roper Kynortas becomes the leader of the Black Kingdom, the home of the nature-loving, pragmatic race of giants known as the Anakim, after seeing his father killed in their first military defeat in thousands of years. Young, inexperienced, and grieving, Roper has to find a way to secure his nation against the invading human Sutherners while solidifying and consolidating his power against the threat posed by heroic Uvoren, the ambitious leader of the Anakim sacred guard. His human antagonist, Bellamus, an upstart commoner who specializes in knowledge of the Anakim, is delightfully clever. The book is twisty in its political maneuverings, gritty in its battle descriptions, and rich with a sense of heroism and glory that fans of Saxon-derived poetic tradition will appreciate. The depth of Anakim culture is thoroughly developed, including shadow organizations run by women that may threaten the heavily militarized male-focused power structure. The finale of this installment perfectly sets the stage for a larger story, and readers will excitedly anticipate the rest of the series. (Apr.)