The Work of Wolves
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The Work of Wolves

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  455 ratings  ·  106 reviews
When fourteen-year-old Carson Fielding bought his first horse from Magnus Yarborough, it became clear that the teenager was a better judge of horses than the rich landowner was of humans. Years later, Carson, now a skilled and respected horse trainer, grudgingly agrees to train Magnus's horses and teach his wife to ride. But as Carson becomes disaffected with the power-hun...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published July 11th 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) (first published June 7th 2004)
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Matthew Copeland
Theoretically, if a book is written with enough skill, the subject matter won't be important. I picked this book up because I enjoy Western novels, but Meyers' writing is so good that it could have been about anything and I would have loved it. His settings are integral to the storyline and are characters of their own; his characters are expertly developed, dynamic, engaging, and so very real; the plot and subplots are delicate, complex and moving. This is not the book to pick up if you are look...more
I liked this book. There were some beautiful lyrical passages. There were thought provoking passages. There were interesting characters that I cared about. Somehow though the book didn't jell quite as much as perhaps it should have. Carson was such a smart, strong man starting from when he was a boy as the book opened that I felt that I expected more from him. That somehow even though he triumphed in some ways, in others he was blowing in the wind a bit. The book had such a strong beginning that...more
A smart book about horses and how they bring three different cultures together. (Rural white, Native American, and European). A horse whisperer, a German "Lakota Sioux want to be" and a troubled and melancholy Indian are the main characters. The weakest character is the flatly written female protagonist. The author falls back on the "woman in peril" theme and could have done more. The characters are multi faceted and we hear their inner thoughts and are compelled to feel deeply about them. Emoti...more
This is one of the best stories I've read in a long time. There are really three protagonists (even if the back of the book describes Carson as the focal point), and the way Meyers develops each of their narratives is amazing. I've seen in some reviews that other people didn't like the subplot involving Nazi Germany, but I thought it connected seamlessly to the South Dakota storyline and provided more depth to the motifs and themes. I remember when Brian finished this book (several years ago now...more
'The Work of Wolves' is one of those rare books that in reading seems to have written itself. Obviously the author worked very hard to make this so and did a wonderful job of leaving the final draft free of himself to be stalked whole heartily by the surprising characters. I was in awe through most of the reading. It was a privilege to read and humbling. Up there with 'All the Pretty Horses', 'The River Runs Trough It', 'Legends of the Fall', and others that do not come to mind at the moment.
One of those books where you are still thinking about it a week later. I love well developed 'interesting' characters and this book delivered it! Having grown up and living in South Dakota (setting of the book), it was a lot of fun to read sections describing the people/biases/landscape etc. The descriptions were right on target!
Gabriela Cowperthwaite
I loved this book. It was humble and quiet but was so beautifully written. I just loved being inside this world.
Tony Taylor
When fourteen-year-old Carson Fielding bought his first horse from Magnus Yarborough, it became clear that the teenager was a better judge of horses than the rich landowner was of humans. Years later, Carson, now a skilled and respected horse trainer, grudgingly agrees to train Magnus's horses and teach his wife to ride. But as Carson becomes disaffected with the power-hungry Magnus, he also grows more and more attracted to the rancher's wife, and their relationship sets off a violent chain of e...more
Favorite quotes:
“White people have a funny way of doing things. They find a forest; they cut it down so they can settle there. They find a prairie; they plant trees so they can settle there. Find a swamp, they drain it, but if they find a desert, they make a lake to irrigate it. Backwards thinking.”
“People do not realize when they have crossed a boundary. This is so. They do not feel special. They do not feel blessed, and they do not feel cursed. Mostly, they just feel confused. They just think...more
If you love to read as much as I do, you will understand what I am about to say. This is the best book I have read in a long time. Very well written, with rich language that is engaging and eloquent. For me, it's the type of book that taught me something about myself as I was reading it. Which in this case, I find profound because all the characters in this book undergo quite a bit of self realization and discovery. Their experiences of awareness in this book, to be able to extend to the reader,...more
I really surprised myself with this book. As a South Dakotan myself for my entire life, I've tried and failed to read works published by South Dakotans - they just haven't been up to snuff. I know how snobbish that sounds on my part, but I just haven't been all that impressed before. When I started The Work of Wolves, I fully expected that I'd read about 50 pages and then dump it. What I didn't expect and was pleasantly surprised by was that I actually really enjoyed the story and the writing. A...more
Melissa Norton
Excellent....A well-written and evocative novel set in modern-day South Dakota. Horse trainer and rancher Carson Fielding reluctantly takes a job working with the horses of a local land baron, a deal that includes teaching his employer's much-younger wife Rebecca to ride, and it is a business arrangement that will have far-reaching consequences.
Author Kent Meyers creates an exemplary sense of place in this book -- a few sentences about discarded plastic grocery bags convey the evolution and ero...more
Andrea Patrick
I'm so sorry I didn't like this book. I wanted to, because it was written by a Black Hills writer, but I just didn't. The story was threadbare and the dialect was hard to read and a poor reflection of how people talk where I grew up. It should be "You wanna go for a ride?" not, "You want a go for a ride?" That drove me crazy.

There were some good ideas that should have been more fully developed, like the Goat Man legend, and some ideas that probably belonged in another book, like all the Nazi stu...more
This is another one I recommend to anyone who will listen.

The writing is so beautiful in parts of this book that it's almost painful. I had to call my sister on the phone and read a passage aloud to her, in fact. (You'll read that as "Denise likes to inflict pain on her sister," but that's not really the point.)

When I read, I tend to enjoy good characters more than any other aspect of a story. This one's chock-full. I don't mean to diminish the value of the story -- the clash and uneasy alliance...more
An interesting spin on a "western" novel. The story is quite intriguing, how 4 young mens' lives become intertwined because one of them happened to see some horses that weren't meant to be seen. There's a little bit of romance, but the overwhelming theme of the story is more one of self discovery. There's some themes involving the destruction caused by greed and the need for power and control; lessons in human integrity, love, devotion, and how right and wrong are determined. Overall, a very goo...more
I LOVED THIS BOOK! Not the type of book I would usually be attracted to but it was GREAT! It is now on my husband's stack-of-books-to-read but I've moved it to the TOP of the stack. We visited The Badlands recently so I could visualize the area; the writing was POETIC at times! I'm always in awe of authors who can find the words that make me say "how did he come up with those words? To express THAT feeling, thought, emotion." The story has such a mix of characters, a thread of compassion and lov...more
This story of 4 young men drawn together through chance circumstance and their willingness to confront a terrible wrong is well told and engaging.

I love Meyers' description of and feeling for the land. Having spent a decade at the edge of the area he's describing, I particularly appreciate his characters' psychological and spiritual ties to the land. It's fun, too, to recognize things like the music store where someone bought a piano.

I wouldn't call it a perfect novel, but I think it's very go...more
I kept walking passed this book on the shelf at my local library. I'd take it down, read the back cover, read the first page, put it back. The third time I saw the book still sitting there, I checked it out and haven't been able to put it down yet. Meyers has a gift for creating characters that could easily be cliches, but instead are unique, original beings whose lives immediately interest the reader. I am only about halfway through it and can't wait to find out what happens.

Okay, stayed up wa...more
That's really two stars for the plot and four stars for the writing. I will definitely look for Meyers other books. He describes each locale so well, whether a broken down trailer on the Lakota "res" or a faded and forgotten apartment in Germany. I fell in love with him when I read the description of migrating sandhill cranes stitching two continents together with their long beaks (can't find it to quote now :( There was too much violence and hatred in the "enemy" for me to feel comfortable read...more
A Western set in a small Montana town involving the evil big rancher buying up all the land and mistreating everyone and everything he comes in contact with. Carson is the main character, a quiet young man with heart and soul. He evolves from being a loner to getting 3 others to take action to deal with some mistreated horses. There are many subplots dealing with boundaries, family ties, father-son relationships, past historical events effecting current behavior. It is a manly story, but I enjoy...more
Staff Favorites
Carson Fielding is hired to train horses for the rich landowner Magnus Yarborough. As Carson becomes disaffected with the power-hungry Magnus, he grows more and more attracted to Rebecca, Magnus' young wife. It is their growing involvement that sets off a cruel act of revenge and counter acts of rebellion.

This is a vividly described novel about relationships, the meaning of love, cruelty, family and history as reflected through the lives of an assortment of unique and strong characters. A though...more
Noelle Thompson
I'm so grateful for a talented South Dakotan author like Meyers. He so accurately captures the attitudes and atmospheres of western South Dakotans. I guess you could call this a modern day "cowboys and Indians"; same brute and inner turmoil but with contemporary drama of poverty, love, loss, and the age-old question of who truly defines "ownership." The only blemish was a side-story involving a German exchange student and his family drama tied to Nazi Germany. But still a must-read.
Actually this should get 6 stars. What a great read, well written, moving. My only complaint is that he should have ended the book when Ted said, "It'll make a good fire". The last few chapters wrapping up were distracting to me from the overall feel of the bond of the three friends and the feel of moving on and the bittersweet-ness of life and the connections between people that make it so worthwhile.
I plan to read more by Meyers.
This one is really good. A modern story about an extremely independent, taciturn horse trainer who gets involved with a couple who need some horses trained and of course it all goes to hell from there. The reservation Indian family is really important to the weave of this story and the German exchange student is like an unexpected color too. It's tense and thoughtful and delicate.
When this book was first recommended to me and I found out it was a "Western" , my first thought was ugh! That was until I started it. There are characters and images that will stay with you for a long, long time. One of the images, the plastic shopping bags stuck in the branches of the trees, long after the market was gone. Very symbolic and very sad.
Great novel by a local author. This book wasn't at all what I expected. The back cover talks about it being a western and as such I thought of gun fights, etc. This book is a lot deeper than that. I really enjoyed the descriptions the author used as well as how he tied the different characters together. Frequent cowboy language (read: swearing);)
Shana Tennant
If you want a real window into attitudes and life in SD, this is great writing. There is much truth behind the fabulous description in this book. The dialect is on point. The story line keeps you interested and frustrates you as well. To me, that's good writing. That said, people are much the same wherever you go. For those who are commenting about the German foreign student's background not fitting, you don't get it. Don't worry, I was embarrassed that I didn't quite tie this together until rea...more
Different from, but in a similar vein to "Peace Like A River." It captures a similar sense of place.
Ambitious attempt to bring the iconic power struggles of the American West, Native American mysticism and Nazi Germany together--and Meyers pulls it off far more successfully than I would have thought possible. There's some beautiful writing here, too, and a couple of truly memorable characters in the taciturn young cowboy Carson Fielding and the comparatively minor character Ted Kills Many. I'd have liked to have rated it higher, except couldn't get past feeling a lack of necessity in some of w...more
I was given this book by a friend as a birthday gift. I don’t usually go for westerns so I was unsure if I would like it enough to finish it. I was pleasantly surprised. The story unfolds at a comfortable pace, introducing four major characters early in the tale: Carson Fielding (a cowboy and the main character), Earl Walks Alone and Ted Kills Many (both Lakota Indians), and Willi Schubert (a German foreign-exchange student who is eager to do anything Indian). The story chronicles the intersecti...more
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