Black Wolves (The Black Wolves trilogy book 1) by Kate Elliott (book review).

‘Black Wolves’ is the first book in ‘The Black Wolves’ trilogy, set in the same world as another trilogy of Kate Elliott’s called ‘Crossroads’. ‘Black Wolves’ can be read without reading the previous books, having said that, there are quite a few characters that are introduced in this book that have a larger role in the previous series.


The book is set in a feudal society in a land called the Hundred and is surrounded by other countries who all have a tentative truce with each other. ‘Black Wolves’ has multiple point of view narrators and a large time jump with character’s pasts revealed in flashbacks. The main POV characters are: Kellas, Captain of the Black Wolves; Sarai, a girl of the Ri Amarah clan; Dannarah, a Reeve Marshall; Gilras, the youngest son of the disgraced Herelian clan and Lifka, an adopted country girl with a mysterious past.

The Hundred had in the past been ruled by cloaked demons previously known as Guardians, whose injustice and cruelty had been over-thrown by King Anjihosh and his men from the land of Qin. King Anjihosh had ruled the Hundred with the help of his Qin officers, the Black Wolves, an elite fighting force and the Reeves who were men and women bonded to giant eagles that serve as messengers and peacekeepers.

After Anjihosh’s heir, King Atani, is murdered and Captain Kellas is disgraced and exiled; Atani’s son, Jehosh, takes the throne. When it becomes clear that King Jehosh is in danger of assassination himself, his aunt, Marshall Dannarah, asks for Kellas to return from exile to help save him after twenty-two years. King Jehosh’s largest threat comes from his wife, Queen Chorannah, a Sirniakan Princess who has forced her religion upon the people of the Hundred who believe in many gods. The priests have started to enforce their rules on the people, disregarding the King and have started to take over the Reeve peacekeepers by murdering Reeves to be replaced by those subservient to them.

The Ri Amarah are a secretive people with their own religion, which they guard carefully from outsiders. The clan is under threat from the Queen’s priests and from the suspicious and jealous citizens of the Hundred. Sarai a ‘tainted’ Ri Amarah girl, as her father was not of the clan, is sent to be wed to Gilras for political gain. Gilras’ father had been one of the men who brought about King Atani’s murder and his now disgraced clan need the money brought in by a marriage to the rich Ri Amarah clan.

Lifka, who would have been a slave, had she not been adopted by her Hundred family, faces problems from the priests when her family refuses to follow the new faith and when she bonds with an eagle to become a Reeve under Marshall Dannarah. He is struggling to keep the Reeve halls from falling to the hands of the priests whilst also trying to figure out what really happened when her brother was supposedly murdered by humans controlled by demons. Kellas, too, is hunting the true culprit of Atani’s murder, having aligned himself with the demons during his exile.

‘Black Wolves’ is an epic tale with many strong characters who see the world from totally different perspectives. I enjoyed Kellas and Dannarah’s character development the most, as you read of their lives when they were young, as well as after the forty-four year time jump. The flashbacks to the missing interval show interesting snippets of important events that have shaped their world and affect their actions and motivations. As I haven’t read the previous series, the true nature of the demons or Guardians is ambiguous for most of the book. I’m looking forward to finding out more about them from the next book.

Supreethi Selvam

September 2016

(pub: Orbit, 2015. 780 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-356-50320-2)

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