Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Wolf Age by James Enge

Hooooboy. It figures my first review would be on a book I either really loved or really...didn't. And "The Wolf Age" by James Enge is set firmly in the latter camp. Actually, the surprising thing is that, after I finished reading it, I wasn't actually sure how I felt about it. I now realize that I was suffering from some residual confusion and frustration stemming from the book's conclusion (I'll come back to this). After talking it out with a friend and describing the story, however, I have come to realize that I actually really, really dislike this book.

I've never actually felt ASSAULTED by my reading before.

Let me explain...although doing so without giving away any spoilers will be difficult at best because so much of my dislike seems to originate in the ridiculous plot contrivances that the author spits out, one after another, to try to keep the story moving along.

This is a book about werewolves. And politics. All right, so far so good. Those are the two points that this book was recommended to me on, given that I have more than a passing fascination with both. Unfortunately, this is also a book about slavery, religion, and a complete lack of anything resembling logic or a meaningful plot. The book begins with the main character, Morlock Ambrosius, being captured and imprisoned by werew
olves from the city of Wuruyaaria. It is, one might note, entirely possible that Enge is a fan of World of Warcraft, because Wuruyaaria is set on a series of mesas a la Thunder Bluff and that was all I could picture when he finally described the place with more than a few passing words.

Yeah, this place, with the talking cows.

Now, Morlock is a mage of sorts, but he gets his abilities taken away from him by Convenient Plot Device A. He is locked in a werewolf prison and essentially forced to fight for his life against other prisoners, who are essentially immortal in their wolf forms (but not their human forms). He meets a fellow prisoner, a charismatic werewolf named Rokhlenu, and they escape by instigating a prison riot.

Like this, but not nearly as awesome.

The rest of the book consists of the campaign that Morlock and Rokhlenu support to try to get the latter elected into the role of "First Singer" in Wuruyaaria, apparently in an attempt to get back at their ex-jailors. That is the goal. The final goal, if you will. The characters spend most of the book trying to attain this goal.

And that's where the end of the book comes in. Minor spoilers for the end ahead, read at your own risk.

After spending the entire book attempting to reach this one objective, it is attained. But afterwards, there are about 80 pages left. What, I wondered, could possibly happen in those last pages? Well, to put it bluntly, the plot takes a hard left turn at the corner of Batshit and Bananas and accelerates to warp speed. By the time the book ended, everything, literally EVERYTHING up to that point that anyone had done was completely invalidated. I'm not kidding. The author actually comes up with a plot device that essentially negates everything that happened up to that point, and ends the book on a feeling of utter "what the fuck". And to make it even worse, the author makes what I assume was an intentional smirking reference to The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Although maybe if it wasn't intentional I would be able to forgive him somewhat for it. But I somehow doubt that consciously naming your character "Morlock" and then suavely mentioning that "he's spent most of his life underground" is a coincide

And from what I could gather, this is just about the level of handsomeness the author was going for, too.

Now, I gather this book is part of a series about Morlock Ambrosius. There is one piece of "significant character development" (said with quotes, because the difficulty that is overcome is fairly stupid and contrived in the first place), so I suppose if you're going to move the character on to something else, that might be important. But having that be the only real thing that's being taken away from all this by anyone in the book? That smacks of either excessive laziness or an author who has no idea how continuity is supposed to work. Maybe a bit of both. I haven't read any of the other books in the series, and I can pretty much guarantee that you'd have to pay me to get me to do so in the future.

My rating: 1/5


  1. *scoff* Morlock Ambrosious? really? lol!

  2. This is awesome, I demand more Jenn reviews!


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