Disclaimer: English is my third language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks. You can read this review also in spanish here.
One of the science fiction books I liked most in 2015 was Children of Time, by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Tchaikovsky is an author basically known for his long and epic fantasy saga Shadows of the Apt, but with this novel he proved his versatility, originality and creativity, and that he has nothing to envy to authors more specialized in science fiction.
I liked both prose and the author's style and when I had the opportunity to read his new book I did not hesitate a moment. Even if I knew that it will mean to start a new saga ... another one...
The Tiger and the Wolf is the first part of the saga Echoes of the Fall. The main feature of this fantastic universe that the author has created is that humans are shapeshifters capable of becoming the totem animal of their tribe. We will find variety of animals: hyenas, crocodiles, horses, bears ... plus the expected tigers and wolves. The social characteristics of each group, their fighting techniques and relations between them are the most interesting points of the novel. In fact, the world-building in general is very well done and is very original.
The main protagonist is Maniye, the daughter of one of the clan chiefs of the Wolves and of the Queen of the Tigers, taken prisoner in a war between these two tribes that the Wolves won. Being half blood she is able to change into wolf and into tiger, but she must decide between them soon or her sanity will begin to fail. Her life has been very hard, controlled and pressured by her father and the priest of the clan to achieve that she uses only her part of Wolf. The action is triggered when Maniye escapes the clan once she discovers the plans her father has for her.
From that moment there is a plot that, without being overly original, is entertaining and complements the great scenario. There are conspiracies to gain power, complex relationships between different tribes, characters with dark motivations, a hidden past of which we know almost nothing ... quite recurring themes in today's epic fantasy, but treated in a competent manner. Surprisingly, although there are challenges, duels and battles narrated in great detail, the novel it's not characterized for the use of violence. And there's no sex at all. I do not know if it's because the protagonist is young or if the history is designed for young readers.
Although I liked the novel and I recommend it undoubtedly it has a couple of problems that prevent that my final rating is excellent. On the one hand the main character, Maniye, has little charisma. This problem is partly solved by the secondary characters, most of which are great, and compensate the little empathy Maniye generated me.
The second problem is that the tempo is a bit slow. The plot is interesting, but I think there are too many persecutions, long marches and choreographed fights. I think that the author could have told the same with few pages.
In short: a very entertaining fantasy novel with an excellent world-building that promises many new surprises in the following volumes, but with a too slow pace and a main character without much charisma, but with great secondary characters. I will be aware of the continuations of the saga.
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