Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Wolf of Tebron

Title: The Wolf of Tebron

Series: The Gates of Heaven #1

Author: C.S. Lakin

Genre: YA allegorical fairy-tale

Excerpt from the prologue of The Wolf of Tebron:

Exhausted and battle-weary, the wizard chose his footsteps carefully amid the sharp granite crags. Daylight barely seeped through the dark shroud of morning; a few renegade stars dotted the horizon. The sentinels of mountain that hugged the vale were bathed in a lavender hue, their peaks pointing toward heaven in seeming supplication. Leaves, curled and crisp, frosted over with icing, cruched under his boots as he squeezed his way through cracks and crevices, fatigue making him stumble. Cold air burned his throat as he panted. He paused to catch his breath. From the cliff outcropping he could make out his lone cottage burrowed under a ledge of rock, a wisp of smoke from a leftover fire rising and twisting slowly in the chill air.

The wizard tugged his woolen cloak tighter around his neck. His silver hair, matted and leaf-ridden from days of fighting, fell around his face, stuck to his damp cheeks. His scabbard banged rhythmically against his leg—the one without the long gash, bound and oozing blood. His feet throbbed in their boots, the toes numb. But, his wounds disturbed him less than the ache in his heart. For this had been just one of many fierce battles against a force intent on annihilating all the wizard held dear.

An apprentice blacksmith chases his nightmares to free his imprisoned wife.

Craft: Perhaps it’s me. Or perhaps it’s because the other two books I’ve been reading are The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Centennial by James A. Michener. Or maybe it’s the book. Whatever the reason, I’m afraid I can work up only a lukewarm enthusiasm about The Wolf of Tebron.

It’s not that anything majorly wrong stands out. Oh, a couple descriptions felt cumbersome, and reference to real-world science and music (like Firebird) jolted me out of the surreal world created. Yet small flaws like these usually just annoy, not leech all the joy from the reading.

And there are some good stuff in this book. Little quirks of humor. Fun cadences of the animal dialogue. The surreal world and journey, reminiscent of George MacDonald’s adult fairy-tales (Phantastes and Lilith). Interesting characters. A satisfying end.

Nonetheless, this story failed to touch my heart and capture my imagination in the way that makes me fondly recall a story over and over again.

Content: Like the craft, the themes and spiritual threads of The Wolf of Tebron appear to be solid. It mixes gems from older writers like C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton with allegorical elements and themes about dealing with emotions (especially anger, despair and fear), and finding peace, joy and hope in the world. Yet without the emotion impact that connects the truth in story with my life, many of the gems lack the power to make any long-lasting impression. Or so it seems to me, and if it is that way, it is a tragedy indeed.

For other notes: Magical elements are handled in an ambiguous manner, and some of the allegorical elements confused, seeming to send mixed signals at times.

Summary: Personally, I found the The Wolf of Tebron less than inspiring. However, most of the story seems solidly grounded, so that could be just me and others may very well find in this book a story to delight in.

Ratings: Craft—3, Content—3, Overall—3.2 out of 5 stars

Disclaimer: In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.


Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Chawna, I'm so glad to hear that someone else felt the real world references pulled them out of the story. I was beginning to think it was just me.

I wasn't sucked into the story, I think, because there wasn't enough conflict. There were obstacles, but that's not the same.


Julie J. said...

I enjoyed reading your comments! :)
Happy Reading! :)