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Title: The Tiger and the Wolf
Series: Echoes of the Fall #1
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
In a world where people can “step” into animal form and they have all formed tribes from time immemorial, Maniye has been born with 2 souls. One of the Wolf from her father and one of the Tiger from her mother. Maniye’s mother was killed right after the birth, as she was the Queen of the Tigers. Unknowingly, Maniye was trained up to use both of her souls so that when she came of age, her father could use her to claim the Tiger throne and complete the conquest that the Wolves had been working towards for a generation.
When her father’s plans are revealed to her, her father says he’ll marry her off to a strong wolf ally, the man who killed Maniye’s mother. Maniye rescues a snake priest and together they escape into the wilderness to elude the Wolves. They take refuge for the winter with a Bear, who knows the man who killed Maniye’s mother. This man, Broken Axe, has successfully tracked her but due to both friendship with the Bear and some other considerations, gives his word he won’t bother Maniye until the Spring Solstice.
At the same time, we follow Asmander and his companions. Asmander is of the crocodile tribe from the far south, where a succession war is brewing. He has been sent north by his father to recruit the Iron Wolves, who are the only creatures known who can work iron and make it their weapon. He is helped out by the Horse tribe, traders across the whole land. Eventually, he is taken to a special holy place where he can meet Akrit, leader of the Iron Wolves and Maniye’s father. This special meeting is for all the tribal priests at the Spring Solstice.
The Bear must attend the Solstice and Maniye and the priest accompany him, hoping to find a guardian at the rites from Broken Axe and Akrit, little knowing that both will be there. Everyone comes together and Akrit tries to take Maniye by force and she kills several of the wolf clan in a sacred circle. She escapes and makes her way to the Tiger’s last standing city, where she finds that Broken Axe did not kill her mother but simply released her back to her people. Her mother rejects her as she can’t get past the fact that Maniye is a child of rape. Maniye tries to fit into Tiger society, but her two souls are continually fighting and she shows as much Wolf as she does Tiger. She escapes her mother, who has decided to sacrifice her to the Tiger and is on the run yet again.
She meets up with Asamander and the snake priest and everyone is on the run from both Wolves and Tigers, who have resumed hostilities. Battles ensue and finally Maniye must try a forgotten ritual to resolve the conflict of having 2 souls. She travels to the Other World and chooses a third soul, one that bridges Wolf and Tiger and learns its form. It is a form stronger and more powerful than anything the northern tribes have ever seen. Broken Axe challenges Akrit for control of the Wolf clan and wins. Between him and Maniye, an uneasy peace is brokered but shamans, priests and fortune tellers are still predicting a doom that will engulf the whole world.
I really enjoyed this. That being said, I wouldn’t want to read this by itself as a standalone again. Maniye does nothing but run for 90% of the book and it became wearisome. She didn’t have any choice, but still, it’s not real fun to read about a character who just runs away all the time.
Once I see how this trilogy resolves, a re-read option will be on the table.
Tchaikovsky definitely brings his A-game to this story. Not so much in terms of excitement but in terms of working out how a society would turn out that has these abilities. He describes the fights in great detail and the way warriors slip between their animal and human form to give themselves advantages and their opponents disadvantages is great. Like the fact that the animal form can incorporate whatever the human form was wearing at the time. The Wolves have learned to have iron claws and built in armor. Tigers have brass claws, etc.
On a bigger scale, it is obvious something is coming. Whether it is a natural disaster (honestly, my first thought was an asteroid strike) or some new empire that will simply sweep over the land, it has all the inhabitants of the land seeing visions of war and fire and ruin, for everyone. I am looking forward to seeing what it turns out to be.
Now that Maniye has found her Champion form (the 3rd connecting soul), I suspect she won’t be running in the next 2 books. Of course, knowing Tchaikovsky’s penchant for lots of character arcs, it wouldn’t surprise me if we go somewhere else and with a completely new set of characters for the the next book.
I might have enjoyed this more if I hadn’t had such a streak of bad reading before it. But regardless, this was a good book and I enjoyed it.