cover image Brotherhood of the Wolf

Brotherhood of the Wolf

David Farland. Tor Books, $26.95 (480pp) ISBN 978-0-312-86742-3

Continuing the fantasy saga he began with The Runelords, Farland's latest novel takes place immediately after its predecessor, and in the same quasi-medieval world. Earth King Gaborn and his rival, Raj Ahten, continue their deadly war until reavers--gruesome crab-shaped elephants with formidable magical powers--compel them to join forces against a common enemy. Amid all the battles and intrigues, Farland explores the political and ethical dilemmas created by the rune system of magic, in which runes can transfer ""endowments"" of various qualities, such as glamour or wit, from one human to another--often leaving the donor crippled or dead. In addition, Farland interweaves, with mixed success, several subplots, the best of which concerns the long journey of Averan, a nine-year-old girl who is traveling in the company of Baron Poll, Roland the Dedicate and a green-skinned wylde, a woman of potent magic able to literally eat a reaver for dinner. Also auspicious is the off-again, on-again courtship of the drunken Prince Celinor and the formidable Princess Erin. Farland's action-packed climax is gripping, even if it involves too much luck. Though not yet in the first tier for narrative technique, world-building or characterization, Farland continues to show considerable promise, suggesting that his next novel may carry the Runelords to a yet higher level in the fantasy pantheon. (June)