THE WOLF MILE
Vikings and Hoplites clashing on the streets of modern day Edinburgh. A secret Pantheon, financed by the elite, watching on as warriors fight to the death – count me in!
I was intrigued by the concept of this story, a real world based fantasy where an underground warrior sect are funded by the wealthiest people in the world, and the members of each group must fight each other to the death, with the ultimate aim of killing the rival king.
Into this world enter Tyler and Lana, both looking to enter the Pantheon and leave their pasts behind them. Tyler was a street kid, devoted to his older sister, who disappeared on him a few years ago. He has strong suspicions she joined the Pantheon, and is therefore determined to join himself when given the opportunity. Lana is running from the heartbreak of a lost child, and seems to want nothing more than to try and bury her feelings.
The plot is very fast paced, the story told in just a few short months. Because of this there isn’t a great deal of character development, though we do learn more about the two main POV’s and their respective pasts as their involvement in the Pantheon develops.
We see our two heroes go through the selection process and training to join The Horde, the Viking war band in the Pantheon. Together, Tyler and Lana are thrust into the life of warriors, leading their normal lives by day, and by night covering themselves in mail and braving battle against Alexander’s hoplites. A large portion of the book is given to the training and recruitment process. As I said further up, the book takes place over a very short time period and it doesn’t seem to skip at any time, meaning we see the characters go through every stage.
The book ends just as the action is at its thickest, leaving me desperate to get straight onto book two! It leaves some questions unanswered, which isn’t a bad thing for the first book in a series.
THE BLOOD ISLES
Literally kicking off where book one ended, The Blood Isles thrusts us back into the blood and guts of the Pantheon. I really enjoyed this one, there is a ton more action and once again the plot is extremely fast paced.
Just like the first book, the story is contained to a few short months, so the story just flies by, without there being any real let up in the plot. Once more we follow Tyler and Lana, as they seek to navigate through the Blood Nights in the Pantheon and then the grand battle, which signals the end to the Pantheon year. Twenty five must die in the Blood Nights, so each night when the two warring parties head out into the streets, they know they need to kill as many of their foe as they can. There are points for the amount of warriors you kill, which vary depending on how experienced that warrior is (it’s a lot simpler than I’m probably making it sound) and if the total is not met by the end of the Blood Nights then lots must be drawn before the start of the Grand Battle to see who must die. It’s brutal, and for a moment I wondered why any sane person would want to join an organisation that puts you through that.
The Grand Battle is extremely well written, the battle field itself adding to the drama. The book builds up to it really nicely and once I got there I couldn’t wait to read on.
We learn more about the Pantheon in this one, it seems to gain a bit more substance. But after finishing the book and digesting it for a few days, it does leave some questions unanswered. There are two rivals in Edinburgh, the Viking horde and their Greek hoplite counterparts, and we are told of other units around Europe. But the others are based so far apart I wondered if they go through the same trials that the two in Edinburgh do? Like logistically, how does that work? Also, there are Vigiles filming the Horde’s every step, live streaming to the wealthy backers who watch on and place bets in live time as they do. But if a man in the street films them on his phone that phone is taken from him? If footage appears on the internet it’s considered a disaster? Surely its inevitable?
Maybe I’m just overthinking it? Anyway, that aside, The Blood Isles is certainly enjoyable, definitely engaging and just like the first book, seems to end just as the plot is taking another turn, which should set us up nicely for book three! Which I believe is out later this year….