Return to the Land of Wolves
by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette Pub Date: October 13, 2015
Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear return with the third book in their Iskryne trilogy, An Apprentice to Elves. The trilogy began with A Companion to Wolves, and continued in The Tempering of Men. This novel picks up the story of Alfgyfa, a young woman who has been raised in the Wolfhall by her father Isolfr, who is the human leader of the queen-wolf Viridechtis' pack, and was the protagonist of the first book.
The warrior culture of Iskryne forbids many things to women--and most especially it forbids them bonding to one of the giant telepathic trelwolves. But as her father was no ordinary boy, Alfgyfa is no ordinary girl. Her father has long planned to send his daughter to Tin, a matriarch among the elves who live nearby, to be both apprentice and ambassador, and now she is of age to go.
An Apprentice to Elves starts slowly, very slowly. The first third to one half of the book provides background necessary to understand the plot. It details Alfgyfa's experiences as an apprentice to the svartalfar, learning to smith, as well as the beginnings of the Rhean invasion. I have not read the first two books in the series, but I still think too much time was taken on the introductions. My attention was dwindling as the middle of the novel approached.
The second half of An Apprentice to Elves was much better. I felt my patience was rewarded. The actual story covers the remainder of the book. The action was fast paced and the plot with the wolves was enthralling. Does the second half make up for the first? Maybe. The one aspect I had mixed feelings about was the ending. It was extremely abrupt and almost absurdly positive considering the extreme losses experienced during battle with the Rheans.
Fans of the series will likely be satisfied, but I am hesitant to recommend it to newcomers. Elizabeth Bear is an excellent author, as is Sarah Monette, but I would suggest trying one of their other novels.
I received a copy of An Apprentice to Elves from the publisher and Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.