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A Companion to Wolves (Iskryne World #1)

3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,104 Ratings  ·  289 Reviews
A Companion to Wolves is the story of a young nobleman, Isolfr, who is chosen to become a wolfcarl -- a warrior who is bonded to a fighting wolf. Isolfr is deeply drawn to the wolves, and though as his father's heir he can refuse the call, he chooses to go.

The people of this wintry land depend on the wolfcarls to protect them from the threat of trolls and wyverns, though t
ebook, 304 pages
Published July 29th 2008 by Tor Books (first published October 16th 2007)
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Joy If this question is asked to determine whether the book is suitable for religious conservatives or children, the answer is that it is not.

If this question is asked to determine whether the book is suitable for religious conservatives or children, the answer is that it is not.

Bad language-- female wolves are called bitches. There might be other bad language that didn't ping my radar.

Sexual themes -- aplenty. Most of the men who are wolfbrothers mate when their wolves do. The sexuality seems to vary from situationally heteroflexible to fully gay.

Strange gods -- the gods seem to be derivative of Norse gods. They are not active players in the plot.

Blood -- the men are warriors fighting monsters, so yes

Rituals -- see the wolf mating above
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dec 28, 2007 Punk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer, fantasy
Fantasy. Men who love wolves who love wolves who love men who fight trolls. Okay, so you've got these guys who are basically vikings and they've got these extra huge wolves, and each wolf bonds with one man and then they're best friends forever and can hold secret ESP conversations with each other; when the wolves mate, the wolves' human companions also have sex, and when they're not having sex they all fight trolls together. This book also features an awful lot of fake Scandinavian words and du ...more
Sala Bim
I hate to be this negative, but I’ll get right to the point, I simply did not enjoy this story. I feel as though the authors asked a whole lot of the reader in the way of suspending disbelief but gave very little pay-off for it. I felt that the sexual aspect was totally unnecessary and, as a gay reader, I felt that the homosexual element was insulting in a number of ways, chief among them being that it was never portrayed as something the main character actually desired. Sure it was generally c ...more
Vivian ♪(┌・。・)┌
It's difficult to collect my thoughts and feelings on this book, as complicated as this book itself is, but I know I have to write something -anything- down before I lose thoughts and feelings.

The world is stunning, quite simply. A beautiful and stark piece and an epic journey, of both the story itself and the feelings that result from it. It's hard to rate or review this book and I'm floundering awkwardly trying to do it, honestly. It feels wrong to place this under the umbrella M/M Romance, be
Sep 08, 2011 Feliz rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Imagine a world very alike to old Iceland, populated with trolls and wyvern snakes, giant fighting wolves and humans who resemble the vikings of old. There are Earls, and villagers, and there are the wolfcarls, warriors who are mythically bonded to giant wolves. They defend the humans against the trolls, beings so powerful only the united forces of men and wolves can defeat them.

Njall, eldest son of an earl, is drawn to the wolves, but he is also his father's heir. When the wolfjarl, the head o
Tamora Pierce
Dec 14, 2008 Tamora Pierce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really riveting, well-thought-out book with a Nordic basic, in which boys (teens) in the culture are tithed to the wolf-brothers when there is a new litter. They vie for the pups and become their human brothers or sisters, members of a hard-fighting cult that protects human lands against the incursions of the trolls.

I'm not going into much more detail than that, because the culture of the great wolves and their brothers is complex. The names for the relationships, for the offices in the wolf
Jul 10, 2016 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think a lot of people have read this expecting something it really is not: comfortable LGBT fantasy romance. But while there are gay characters and themes, the main character is more straight than not, and the gay sex goes toward highlighting issues which previous work like Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books ignored. Instead of telepathic dragons and euphemistic sex scenes which turn out okay for everyone because of course the green dragons choose gay men, this explores the complications for gender i ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 10, 2011 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must admit, I bought this book, inspired by some hilarious reviews here on GR. Unfortunately, those reviews mislead me about the seriousness of this book - or better yet how seriously it takes itself. That is portrayed mainly in the main character's "values" and views on the world he is in and his personal duties. And so I shall start with the BAD things about this book:

- (non-graphic) SPOILERS -

1) Serious issues with sexual consent. The protagonist is, for a lack of better description - strai
At first I really loved this book. I loved the premise of a group of men who, in order to protect human villages from trolls, have formed a fighting society in which each becomes in essence, a soul-mate to a wolf. The pack includes not only a strong brotherhood, which is appealing, but also a certain amount of sacrifice, i.e. having to mate with each other when the alpha she-wolf mates with the other male wolves. (Sacrifice for the main character; others in the group seem to enjoy it.) The cultu ...more
Nov 27, 2007 Speedtribes rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This is a fantasy book that really plays with the idea of gender, societal norms and sexuality that doesn't smack of a similar sort of gratuity that I tend to dislike in most books with extended mentions of sex. In a society where the warrior men bonded to the wolves reenact and share in the wolves' very non-human (and why should they be human?) mating cycles -- whether willingly or not -- the sex scenes felt necessary to the plot and the portrayal of the very real differences between animals an ...more
Jason Bradley
Oct 01, 2013 Jason Bradley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holy shit! This story was so complex and just dripping with history and mythology. I would call this intelligent fantasy. The story is woven so powerfully, so uniquely that I hung on every word. I savored it because it is rare to find a story so richly told.
Abigail Hilton
Nov 19, 2010 Abigail Hilton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an impressive piece of fiction. From what I’ve read elsewhere, I understand that the authors conceived the book as a tongue-in-cheek, farcical look at the companion animal genre, forcing it to its logical, absurd conclusions. In addition, the story is replete with nearly-unpronounceable made-up words, also typical of the genre. Finally, the authors included a great big dose of slashy guy-on-guy action to delight (and mock) the fan girls.

In the hands of lesser authors, this story would b
This is pretty much every slash fanfic cliché ever, all written into one cracktastic book, complete with telepathic wolves and gay Vikings. I think it's best enjoyed if you want to wallow in those tropes—the prose is competent, but not astounding, the characterisation not particularly engaging, and the world-building rather bland. I get that it was supposed to be a response to the companion-animal tropes and resultant gender issues that crop up in a lot of fantasy fiction; not having read much i ...more
Jul 22, 2008 notyourmonkey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's like the Lessa books from the Pern series, except with wolves instead of dragons, with all the creepy aspects of soul-bonded mating fully fleshed out, and with all the women removed!

That sounds harsh, but honestly I enjoyed the read. Yes, I have a few quibbles - really dodgy gender politics that are brushed aside for most of the book, the tragically beautiful yet remote heroine, the feeling like the plot is merely a background to world description - but I had a thoroughly good time while r
Oh good, I am no longer seethingly annoyed by the mere presence of Elizabeth Bear’s name. Time does fade all things, including deeply enraging internet behavior. And this book is far less indulgent than the last few things of hers I read.

Nota bien: “Indulgent” is a book review sneaky code word for “interested in things I don’t care about, as opposed to things I do.”

This is a book about a young Viking…ish man who is taken from his family’s home and bonded with an empathic wolf, and then they figh
Jan 05, 2009 Brownbetty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 07, 2009 mlady_rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves a good fantasy, and is fond of wolves
Recommended to mlady_rebecca by: Amazon, actually
I absolutely love this book. This is one of those books that makes me want to go back and erase most of my previous 5 star ratings, becasue they don't measure up.

It is an original world with a fascinating culture. Love the world-building. Love the storyline. Love the characters. Love that it's one of those stories that can touch your heart and your head. As the Publisher's Weekly review says on the back cover, "a brutal and beautiful novel about the meaning of honor".

Do you remember "The Neveren
Sep 24, 2012 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2012
2.5. There comes a time in your life when you find yourself telling a friend, "You know that wolfbonding book I'm reading? The pretty protagonist just got dub-conned into popping his anal cherry and there are so many consent issues and I FEEL LIKE I'M READING A REALLY DARK BL MANGA, THIS IS NOT WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR." (I'm not sure what I signed up for--the premise seemed interesting? Not gonna lie, I was also hoping for happy pack cuddling at some point, but obviously Sarah Monette never writes ...more
In a frigid northern land suffused with Norse-like mythology, men live and fight in concert with wolves to hold back the threat of troll invasion. Njall is a young nobleman, raised separate from this war--until his intense bond with his sister wolf draws him into its heart. A Companion to Wolves is a world of its own, and thus difficult to summarize and supremely immersive: the harsh wintery setting, the seductive premise of telepathically bonded wolves, and the dual battles that surround Njall ...more
Rachel Neumeier
Jan 16, 2015 Rachel Neumeier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I only recently found out this book exists, when I went looking for Sarah Monette's backlist. Then, from the description and reviews, I had significant doubts about A Companion to Wolves, but with these two authors? I had to try it.

What sounded great: the meticulously crafted setting and the powerful, moving relationships.

What sounded iffy: telepathic animal companions. I think of that as the My Pretty Pony trope, and it takes a lot to make me accept it these days. Telepathic animal companions
When I read, I try to read myself into the main character. See through their eyes, want what they want. To follow along. I don't think I can do that with this one. It is just too distressing (death, and family repudiation, and consent issues), and too far different from my life. (I do not hunt trolls.)

BUT I can follow along like the main character is a friend. A friend with a life I don't want, but I want to know what's going on.

All of this to say I eagerly await the next books in fear and tre
Mar 10, 2016 Sheila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
I picked this up because I loved The Goblin Emperor so much. And I have the same complaint with that book that I have with this one.

Dear Sarah Monette/Katherine Addison:
I am neither a lazy nor a bad reader. But your character names are really difficult: too similar, too long, too hard to pronounce, and when characters change their names part way through the book, it adds another layer of confusion. It annoys me to have to search each character name when it comes up so I can be reminded of who it
I'm impressed. The cover definitely doesn't do this book justice. Just looking at it lowered my expectations of this book by half, at least. I figured the sex would only take up a third of the book, and the main character's doomed love affair would only take up three quarters. At best.
So I didn't expect to find a superbly crafted realm and culture that delved skillfully into Norse mythology and language alike. Of course, there was lots of sex and whatnot. But that was almost an afterthought
Feb 12, 2008 Wealhtheow rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Pern, the Last Herald Mage, or vikings
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: punk
Njall is the teenage son of a jarl when he is inducted into the world of the wolfcarls--warriors who have psychically bonded with trellwolves in order to fight the encroaching trolls. The transition is hard for Njall, because wolfcarls are completely devoted to the fight. They do not own land, they do not marry or raid for glory--and when their wolves mate with other wolves, their wolfcarls mate with each other. Njall has to adapt from being in control of his own life, choices and sexuality, to ...more
Nov 17, 2009 Grey853 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gay, fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 19, 2009 Diana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Apparently, this started as a snarky conversation between the two authors-- how many books had this psychic bonding between humans and animals (specifically wolves) but never portrayed actual wolf behavior as having any influence on the characters. It turned into a serious attempt at creating a world where wolves and humans do bond, serving as border guards-- makes sense, as arctic wolves would be very comfortable in woods and harsh winters. What takes this book beyond the "typical" fantasy real ...more
Nisie draws
Dec 10, 2015 Nisie draws rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
never thought i would enjoy a book about dog sex but here we are.
this book is great because it's like reading a trashy fanfic but without having to deal an obnoxious fandom.
Aug 09, 2015 Ari rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I spent the first hundred pages of this in TRANSFIXED HORROR but I ended up more into it than I expected -- the setup (sexy wolf-viking soulbond psychic a/b/o) is something it took me some time to get used to, but the authors don't do what a lot of other people in the sexy soulbond business do -- they don't shy away from the unpleasant elements of sexy soulbonds.

I was also skeptical of the way the narrative treated women and the trolls (fantasy races that appear to be sentient but are never con
This was a hard, hard book, and disturbing on many levels. It tested societal norms in a big way. You had to come to accept that these men, who had bonded with wolves, were no longer human men. Neither were they completely the animals they had bonded with, nor were they something more, but rather, something else, something different. They no longer played by the rules of men alone, but more by some altered rule of Pack. It's really hard to describe. I found myself nearly in tears at times, and a ...more
Cole Riann
Review posted at The Armchair Reader.

I have wanted to read this book, the first of a trilogy, for quite a while and I'm really happy that I finally sat myself down to read it. I don't think that it is without some problems, but overall I was very pleased and wrapped up in the story.

The first 25% of this book is a little daunting to read. Right away you're plunged into a world with a large cast of characters whose names, for most of us, are hard to pronounce and keep track of*. So I'll give a lit
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gaybros: Thoughts on Iskryne series? 1 19 Jun 10, 2014 01:59PM  
  • Point of Dreams (Astreiant, #2)
  • Hell and Earth (Promethean Age, #4)
  • All Wrapped Up
  • Treasure (Raised By Wolves, #3)
  • The God Eaters
  • Bloodraven
  • The Adorned
  • The Fall of the Kings (Riverside, #3)
  • Hammer & Air
  • The Archer's Heart
  • Traitor's Moon (Nightrunner, #3)
  • Cethe
  • Ghost (Wolf's-own, #1)
  • A Strong and Sudden Thaw (A Strong and Sudden Thaw, #1)
  • Greenwode (The Wode, #1)
  • The Land of Night (Scarlet and the White Wolf, #3)
  • The Emperor's Wolf
My pseudonym is Katherine Addison. Katherine reviews nonfiction. Sarah reviews fiction. Fair warning: I read very little fiction these days.

I was born and raised in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, one of the secret cities of the Manhattan Project. I studied English and Classics in college, and have gone on to get my M.A. and Ph.D. in English Literature. My first four novels were published by Ace Books. I h
More about Sarah Monette...

Other Books in the Series

Iskryne World (3 books)
  • The Tempering of Men (Iskryne World, #2)
  • An Apprentice to Elves (Iskryne World, #3)

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“Although Mar would be quite pleased to be consort, Skjaldwulf didn't want to be wolfjarl.

He wanted Isolfr, and he would take the damned job that went with it, if he could win it, if that was what it took.”
“He's not my lover," Isolfr said.

She raised an eyebrow, a long feathery, shaggy sweep. "You're his beloved. Both of them. I saw enough on the war-trail to know." Then she laughed, and took her hand off his and pushed his chest like a wolf-cub nudging playfully. "We don't get to pick who loves us, you know. And better to get him to write the song than be remembered forever as 'fair Isolfr, the cold.'"

He scrubbed a hand across his face, roughness of beard and scars and the smooth skin of the unmarked cheek. "Is that really what they call me?"

She smiled. "You frighten them, Viradechtisbrother. You went down under the mountain and came out again, twice, and the alfar call you friend. They'll have you among the heroes before you know it. And you can seem quite untouchable—'ice-eyes, and ice-heart, and ice-hard, his will.'"

"Othinn help me. It is a song already.”
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