The Wolf Age by James Enge

October 13, 2011

Wuruyaaria: city of werewolves, whose raiders range over the dying northlands, capturing human beings for slaves or meat. Wuruyaaria: where a lone immortal maker wages a secret war against the Strange Gods of the Coranians. Wuruyaaria: a democracy where some are more equal than others, and a faction of outcast werewolves is determined to change the balance of power in a long, bloody election year.

Their plans are laid; the challenges known; the risks accepted. But all schemes will shatter in the clash between two threats few had foreseen and none had fully understood: a monster from the north on a mission to poison the world and a stranger from the south named Morlock Ambrosius

When I first saw the cover for The Wolf Age by James Enge I knew that I wanted it to be included in Werewolf Appreciation Month. Broody looking hooded figure with a magic sword fighting off hordes of evil looking werewolves. It looked like it would be an absolutely perfect fit. I couldn’t help but love this book could I? I immediately rushed off to Amazon and purchased an imported copy, I’m not sure but I don’t think the book has been officially released in the UK?

Unfortunately I’m sorry to admit that I didn’t manage to finish the book. This is a pretty rare occurrence for me. In fact thinking about it I can’t remember the last time it happened. Why? Well the main problem I had was that when I bought the book I didn’t do enough research and was blissfully unaware that this was the third novel featuring this character. There certainly isn’t any indication anywhere on the outside of the book. The further I read the more I realised that I was missing important chunks of the Morlock’s backstory. He is a complex individual and I’ve gleaned from the publishers website that he has quite a long history. In The Wolf Age, there are a group of powerful entities who are very interested in Morlock, but the reasons behind their interest were never fully explained. I also learned that Morlock’s blood appears to be flammable, but again, I’m not really sure how or why.

This made it increasingly difficult for me to engage with the character and his journey. I should stress however, that I believe this fault to rest solely on my shoulders. Enge has written something that I am sure will no doubt delight readers of the previous work. Personally however, I found the writing quite dense and slow going. Morlock suffers great hardship, and even starts to fear for his sanity at one point, but by that stage I was having difficulty empathizing with his situation.

That’s not to say that I hated the novel. I did try to persevere, and there are some elements that worked well irrespective of my lack of insight. There is a prison break that came across as exciting, and gripping to read. The cut and thrust of a werewolf society is described in a brutal, violent manner, and this also appealed.

When in werewolf form, characters sing to one another. It is a nice touch that the sound the werewolves make, they consider to be singing, rather than howling. The author has obviously thought long and hard about how a city of werewolves would function. It is clearly evident that a lot of research into how real world wolves interact, and he has tried to mirror this in the Werewolf society. On a more human note, there are interesting snippets detailing economics, gender politics and class struggle which did keep me reading for a while, but after around two hundred pages I had to concede defeat and give up.

I am going to have to admit to a certain amount of disappointment, but I think I have learned a valuable lesson. In future, I will think long and hard about jumping into the midst of an established on-going series. I may even consider checking out Enge’s earlier Ambrosious novels. I think that having read the previous two releases, my experience with The Wolf Age would have most definitely been a far more positive one.

One Comment

  • Jill Maxick October 14, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    I’m sorry you felt you were unable to enjoy The Wolf Age without having read previous Morlock Ambrosius works. The reason you saw “no indication” on the book is that Enge’s Morlock books are not really considered a series but stand-alone novels that feature the same signature character. Enge has also written novellas and short stories featuring Morlock Ambrosius. Many of Enge’s fans discovered him first with The Wolf Age and then went back and read Blood of Ambrose and This Crooked Way. Reading in a certain order is not essential, but perhaps would have felt more comfortable for you. In August of 2012 we’ll actually be publishing a new novel that acts as an “origin story” for Morlock. Thank you for your review.

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