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"Eyvind can think of no more glorious future than becoming a Wolfskin, a warrior devoted to the service of the mighty war god Thor. His closest friend, Somerled, a strange and lonely boy, has his own very different ambitions - yet a childhood oath, sworn in blood, binds these two in lifelong loyalty. Meanwhile, far away across the water, on the Light Isles, the king's niece Nessa is beginning to learn the ways of the mysteries - though neither the young priestess nor her people can realize what lies ahead for them." "Eyvind and Somerled seem set to follow very different paths: one becoming a fearless servant of the Warfather, the other a scholarly courtier. Then a voyage of discovery, led by Somerled's brother Ulf, brings the two friends together again in accompanying a group of settlers to some beautiful islands rumoured to lie across the western sea. However, their good spirits are dampened by a tragedy on board, which Eyvind begins to suspect may not have been an accident." Ulf's new settlement begins in harmony with the native islanders, led by King Engus. But one day, on a trip to a holy place of the Folk, a brutal murder occurs and that peace is shattered. It is now that Eyvind begins to feel the restraining ties of his boyhood oath...and to realize what sort of future Somerled had in mind for himself all those years ago.

544 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 2003

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About the author

Juliet Marillier

77 books10.7k followers
Juliet Marillier was born in Dunedin, New Zealand and grew up surrounded by Celtic music and stories. Her own Celtic-Gaelic roots inspired her to write her first series, the Sevenwaters Trilogy. Juliet was educated at the University of Otago, where she majored in music and languages, graduating BA and Bachelor of Music (Hons). Her lifelong interest in history, folklore and mythology has had a major influence on her writing.

Juliet is the author of twenty-one historical fantasy novels for adults and young adults, as well as a book of short fiction. Juliet's novels and short stories have won many awards.

Juliet lives in a 110 year old cottage in a riverside suburb of Perth, Western Australia. When not writing, she tends to her small pack of rescue dogs. She also has four adult children and eight grandchildren. Juliet is a member of the druid order OBOD (the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.)

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 323 reviews
Profile Image for Keertana.
1,126 reviews2,162 followers
April 21, 2013
After my ever-so-slightly-disappointed encounter with Son of the Shadows, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from Wolfskin. It can be a painful process to read the work of a beloved author with the knowledge that the novel in your hands is good, but it isn’t the outstanding masterpiece you were expecting, and I did my best to avoid another Marillier novel because of my fear of that very feeling. Even more disturbing, though, is the fact that virtually none of my friends have read Wolfskin and the public reviews I had to go by promised that readers would either love this tale of Vikings or feel drastically apathetic towards it. Needless to say, I cracked open the spine of Wolfskin with shaking fingers, but by the end of the first paragraph itself, I knew, without a doubt, that I had discovered another legendary story from Juliet Marillier; one I would undoubtedly display on my shelves next to Daughter of the Forest itself.

In the cold settlement of Rogaland, young Eyvind dreams of becoming a Wolfskin, an honored Viking warrior who hears the voice of Thor himself in battle. When Ulf, a visionary chieftain, arrives during the winter with his younger brother, Somerled, in tow, Eyvind and Somerled strike an unlikely friendship. Although Somerled is strange, taciturn, and refuses to make any friends beyond Eyvind himself, the two become blood brothers, swearing a life-long oath of loyalty to one another. Years later, Somerled secures Eyvind a spot on the ship of his elder brother who seeks to voyage to faraway islands of fable. Once there, Ulf establishes a peaceful friendship with King Engus and the islanders – a time of joy that is broken with the ruthless murder of Ulf. It is now that Eyvind begins to witness the cunning, ambitious persona that lies under the quiet exterior of his friend as he comes to question not only his loyalty towards Thor – whose battle cry he no longer wishes to follow – but also towards his childhood friend, who asks him to sacrifice the one woman he holds most dear.

From the first few pages of Wolfskin itself, a dark, ominous tone is set for the novel. It is the type of creeping feeling there isn’t a name for; the kind where you know terrible events are about to unfold, but you can’t do much about it. What Marillier excels in with Wolfskin is the blurring of lines between good and evil. Although it is established from the very beginning of this tale that Somerled is not necessarily a good person, we see the goodness in him, alongside the evil. We see him create a new type of knot just so he can trap animals and watch as they die, but we also see him risk his life to save that of Eyvind’s. We see that he is a clever and intelligent young man, once timid and afraid of others, but we also see his glowing ambition. At its heart, Wolfskin is the tale of these two friends, of the adventures they’ve experienced together and of the dreams that have brought them to where they are in life. We experience the inner battle that Eyvind faces, that of confronting his childhood friend or dealing with the guilt of not having stopped him before. Marillier makes us see the grays of these two characters so deeply, their flaws right alongside their goodness that it is impossible to know where to place blame and where to weep.

As you can imagine, Wolfskin is a dark tale. Its pages contain rape, murder, suicide, massacres, and heavy violence, but still, it remains a story of love and hope.* Unlike the previous Marillier novels I’ve read, Wolfskin is not simply narrated from one perspective; rather, it shifts between the third-person perspectives of Eyvind and Nessa, a priestess and the niece of King Engus. Although Nessa and Eyvind come from different races of now-warring people, the two are drawn to each by fate and their love only offers them greater faith and strength in a time of desolation. Furthermore, their bond is a feeling, one that carries them through the difficult paths they face alone and the respect, equality, and understanding between the two is unrivaled by any other literary couple I have come across as yet.

One of the themes that stood out to me throughout the duration of Wolfskin was that of faith. We have literal faith in that the Vikings believe in Thor, the people of the island in their spirits, and even a priest in Christianity. Yet, Wolfskin is not a religious book. It shows us how faith drives our lives – faith in something, whether it be divine or otherwise – and even when our faith in one thing is broken, something else invariably comes along to replace it. Until, that is, we are stripped of everything but our faith in ourselves. Wolfskin explores, so poignantly, of what humans are capable when pushed to their limits, when they have nothing and no one to turn to but themselves and their allies and whether, at the end, their faith stands the true test of time, come what may. Nessa, in particular, as a priestess is constantly told that she will embark on a journey in which she must be prepared to go on, despite losing everything and everyone she holds dear. It is for the strength and compassion she displays on this journey that she will go down as one of my most inspirational protagonists of all time.

In addition to literal faith, though, Marillier explores the faith we put in other people, the trust we place in them to do what is right. With Somerled and Eyvind especially, she doesn’t hesitate to break our hearts, time and time again, especially as she builds an attachment to both these characters, despite the flaws that they possess. Ironically enough, I found myself patting myself on the back as I neared the end of this novel for not shedding a single tear. Naturally, I found myself bawling during one particular scene during the last chapter – a scene that continues to take my breath away. It is through this subtle inflection of faith that Marillier enables her characters to grow, making them build that faith within themselves that is formerly lacking, and even the complexity of relationships she builds, no matter how trivial, continue to build throughout the novel, culminating in an ending that is simply utter genius.

Like Daughter of the Forest, this novel has forced me to re-evaluate my own life and look out upon it with different eyes. Juliet Marillier, I can only thank you for writing such life-changing masterpieces. From the bottom of my duct-taped heart.

*I just want to re-iterate that Wolfskin, although containing characters who are in their teens, is really not for teenagers. If you are not comfortable with any of the subjects I mentioned, or with novels that contain sex, I’d suggest a more light-hearted novel by Juliet Marillier like Shadowfell instead.

You can read this review and more on my blog, Ivy Book Bindings.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,103 reviews294 followers
October 28, 2021
While this wasn't my favourite by Marillier, like everything else she writes, that still doesn't take it far from excellent. The trademark richness of setting and character I expect from Marillier is present here, and it makes for a wonderfully engaging story.

The main relationship in this story is between Eyvind and Somerled, two boyhood friends who grow up together and ultimately have their friendship tested to the limit. Somerled is probably one of the most complicated characters I've come across in Marillier's work thus far, although readers of Child of the Prophecy might recognise shades of Fainne (even if the two characters are admittedly very different).

I definitely plan to read the concluding book to this duology, Foxmask...actually I just read the summary for that, and I'm already stressed out by the plight of the characters in the upcoming book!

Notes on the audiobook:While this is an older book, it has recently been released as an audiobook narrated by Saskia Maarleveld. I have nothing but good things to say about the narration, and would recommend it highly to audiobook listeners.
Profile Image for Rosie.
304 reviews36 followers
May 22, 2020
Um romance épico pelas mãos da minha autora de eleição deixa-me em pulgas. Apesar de o ter há muito, preservei-o para poder usufruir de quando em vez da sua encantadora escrita.

As opiniões quanto a esta saga não são tão favoráveis e de facto o início não começou tão prometedor quanto estamos habituados. A certa altura compreendi o que estava a faltar: o narrador era homem e parecia que carecia de substância, aquela afinidade intrínseca nas personagens femininas a que Juliet dá voz; mulheres cheias de carisma tidas como frágeis, mas que se revelam tão poderosas como sensíveis.

Tudo muda quando viajamos até ao Arquipélago das ilhas Brilhantes na Escócia, um reino de profunda beleza, rico nas dádivas da terra e do mar.

Surge então Nessa, uma Sacerdotisa, que irá pôr em causa o juramento dos Viquingues e as premissas do seu Deus inclemente, Thor.

Os nativos são um povo grande na sua sabedoria e justiça, corajoso, que ocupa pacificamente esta terra desde “o tempo antes da memória” e que respeitam as vozes das profundezas da terra e da essência da natureza.

”Os círculos de pedras, as câmaras escondidas, os montículos, os seres invisíveis que moravam, misteriosos e subtis, sob o terreno acidentado e sob a água brilhante é que eram a memória e a magia, o bater do coração e a história.”

Uma empolgante aventura cheia de mística, pontuado por rituais para honrar os poderes que sustinham a vida, os antepassados, a eterna essência da natureza e de orações de gratidão, lamento ou socorro.

As personagens impactantes, o envolvimento sobre a luta entre o bem e o mal, as batalhas corpo a corpo ou de palavras, tornam uma vez mais, um livro sem ser perfeito, mas que não deixa de o ser na medida em que o leitor se sente embalado pela mestria da autora e da magia tradicional nórdica.
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,003 followers
November 22, 2012
Sat down and finished this off in one gulp, three hundred pages in one go, this evening. That seems to be the best way for me to read Marillier's work: I remember doing the same with her other books to finish them, and enjoying them much more at that break-neck pace. Wolfskin is sort of more in my line of work, you might say, since it involves Norse settlement of the Orkney islands: the Norse culture was familiar to me, if not always entirely in step with what I know, and I think Marillier toed the line pretty well.

I don't actually know what I think of the book as a whole. On the one hand, I definitely enjoyed it, and I was intrigued when the fairytale aspect came in -- very late in the story, so that I'd suspected that this wasn't a fairytale retelling at all -- but the pace is difficult and the characters... Eyvind is, of necessity, lacking in self-knowledge, lacking in understanding of his own capabilities, and Somerled is barely likeable -- Marillier does do well in showing the man he could be, in some moments, but from very early on it's obvious where it's all going. Nessa is more fun, though there's something so horribly clichéd about the princess-priestess whose children will carry on the royal line; it's so often a feature of books about Guinevere and so on, which is perhaps why it bothers me, and it's so often badly done.

Still, overall I quite enjoyed this story of cultures meeting, of two worlds finding a way to join without wholly destroying one another. I'm looking forward to reading Foxmask. I'm back to being ambivalent about Marillier, after adoring Heart's Blood when I read that, but there's plenty to enjoy even so.
Profile Image for Susana.
468 reviews140 followers
October 25, 2017
(review in English below)

Mais uma vez a Juliet transportou-me para outro mundo e durante duas semanas vivi parcialmente nas Órcades, na companhia do Eyvind e da Nessa. Para quem já leu vários livros desta autora, não é difícil prever como vai acabar cada história, mas o que eu mais gosto é a forma como ela cria situações que parecem impossíveis de resolver e que nos fazem não conseguir parar de ler, só para saber como é que ela vai desenvolver a trama de modo a que tudo encaixe e faça sentido no final.

E, por falar em final, achei este um pouco "arrastado" e anti-climácico. Para animar, comecei logo a ler o segundo volume desta Saga das Ilhas Brilhantes!

Once again, Juliet has carried me to another world and for two weeks I've lived partly in the Orkney Islands, along with Eyvind and Nessa. For those who've read other books by this author, it's not hard to guess how her stories will end. What I like about it is the way she builds up seemingly impossible situations that keep us reading like there's no tomorrow just to find out how will the plot develops so everything falls into place and makes sense in the end - and it does.

However, I thought the ending of this story was dragging a little bit and it was an anticlimax. So, to cheer myself up I started book 2 right away!
Profile Image for Elisa Santos.
343 reviews1 follower
March 27, 2016
Foi uma amiga recente que fiz no booktube que me deu esta obra lindissima.

Na verdade, dou 4,5 estrelas.

Ora, este é um romance na tradição d'As Brumas de Avalon, com o seu realismo misturado com alguma magia, derivada do folclore da região. Aqui é -nos dado a conhecer uma tribo viking, de onde se vai destacar a relação entre 2 homens, que se conhecem desde meninos e que forjaram um juramento de sangue. Esses 2 homens têm aspirações na vida bastante díspares e vão ser uma reflexão sobre objetivos e se os fins justificam os meios empregados.
Todas as personagens estão muito bem escritas, a 3D e tem um vilão de se lhe tirar o chapéu.
Não vou falar muito mais acerca deste livro, pois o bom é entrar e mergulhar nele sem grandes conhecimentos prévios.

De notar que irei ler muito mais desta autora, que me pôs na pontinha da cadeira em antecipação pelos acontecimentos.
Profile Image for Alyssa.
605 reviews176 followers
April 3, 2018
One of the few books of Marillier's that I had yet to read, and it did not disappoint. Marillier again weaves a beautiful and fantastical tail of strength, coming of age, betrayal and love. The blends of folklore and different religions worked together beautifully. I enjoyed the characters and found them all perfectly layered and most importantly, filled with real flaws. I believe that is one of the best things about a Marillier novel. She created deep characters who are so easy to fall for and sometimes so hard to understand. The romance is not as subtle and slow burn as her other novels and I appreciated that as Marillier always makes me feel what her characters are feeling and thus plucks at the heartstrings in a wonderful manner. Though this may not be my favorite Marillier novel, it is still a near perfect read in my opinion. Highly recommended, of course.
Profile Image for Angela.
504 reviews30 followers
October 25, 2017

“Now he understood what it was to be a man: that it was to be weak as well as strong, to be foolish sometimes and wise sometimes, to know love as well as to kill. And he had learned that there were other paths for him, other gods who called in the deep places of the earth, in the lap of wavelets on the shore, in the breath of the wind. He had learned that there were other kinds of courage. He knew, with deep certainty, that the islands held a new path for him. He need only move forward and find it.”

Profile Image for Melissa.
2,158 reviews204 followers
July 16, 2019
I read half of this. I actually listened to it on audio and the reader was very good. I like the way Marillier writes but it's been a long time since I have read anything by her. I found this wonderfully worded and deeply characterized. It's like she studies people and writes their differences into stories.I am having trouble tho with wanting to finish it. It is just one sad tale after another with very little happiness or adventure happening. It really is not my style of book at all. I went ahead and read the excerpt for the second book and it really makes me not want to finish reading this now that I know where it is going. This book would be R from what I have read. There are no explicit sex scene that I read ( but could be at the end) but sex is talked of by boys, by a prostitute and a 15 year old boy and many references to sex are made. There is also a couple rapes that are talked about and happens to a couple characters, suicide,and murder. One of the characters is dark and disturbed and does things that just had me not wanting to read anymore.
Profile Image for Telma.
111 reviews71 followers
September 25, 2015
Desconhecia por completo esta autora e "O filho de Thor" mas conheço várias pessoas que gostam bastante dela e decidi aceitar a recomendação da Célia. Não sei bem porquê mas tinha-a associado à Anne Bishop o que agora percebo que foi um erro pois ambas são muito diferentes na escrita e universos. A escrita de Marillier é muito bonita e poética, com muita imaginação e informação histórica mas sem aquele "despejar de informação" que muitos autores acabam por fazer.
A primeira metade do "Filho de Tor" foi a que mais me custou, pois serve para contar como surgiu a amizade entre Sommerled e Eyvind, enquanto rapazes. Não morro de amores por histórias com crianças e cheguei a pensar em desistir. No entanto, a autora coloca estrategicamente alguns mistérios e conflitos que ajudaram a manter o interesse e partir para a segunda metade do livro que se passa nas Ilhas Brilhantes.
Sommerled é desde o início o aparente vilão da história. No entanto como é apenas um rapaz assustado que sofreu bastante na infância ficamos sempre na dúvida se ele é intrinsecamente mau ou apenas produto do seu meio e ambições. Depois há a sua relação com Eyvind. Este é um rapaz lutador e corajoso, de ideais e ambições simples. Só que é essa bondade inata que atrai e mantém Sommeled no seu melhor, impedindo-o de se tornar totalmente mau. Eyvind passa por várias e diversas dificuldades ao longo desta história. Sofre quando tem que agir contra aquilo que acredita e a sua recuperação acontece através de Nessa que se torna a sua mais improvável aliada. Por seu lado Nessa vive em conflito por se apaixonar por um guerreiro do grupo que está em luta com o seu povo e ajudar o seu povo a sobreviver. Foi por causa de Nessa que me apaixonei por esta história. As passagens sobre ela e a sua magia são lindíssimas e transportou-me para um tempo em que nós humanos vivíamos mais ligados à nossa Mãe-Terra.
Em resumo: adorei este livro. Começa de uma forma talvez pouco interessante e lenta mas a pouco e pouco prende-nos, principalmente através dos seus personagens, e faz-nos apaixonar por aquele bonito mundo das Ilhas Brilhantes.
Profile Image for Veronica.
1,277 reviews15 followers
February 10, 2017
Juliet Marillier writes beautiful fantasy novels and I enjoy her prose very much. That said. This entire (very long) book is about a "good man" whose best friend is a rapist and a murderer, and even after the protagonist is forced to admit that, yeah, he kinda knows that his bestie did in fact rape that woman and murder that guy and this is kiiiiiinda problematic, he still loves this dude and wants to help him redeem himself and the very last scene of the book shows us that yes, even murdering rapist sociopaths can ~love their friends~ and I just. After a certain point you have to either stop being friends with rapists or give up your "good guy" card, and the book doesn't make the protagonist do either. It's a pretty accurate depiction of the not uncommon "area man is faced with knowledge that bosom companion raped someone, chooses to bury head in sand rather than do anything about it because his buddy still treats HIM okay" scenario but it's still gross.
Profile Image for Terry (Ter05 TwiMoms/ MundieMoms).
512 reviews67 followers
July 28, 2010
I absolutely love this author. I have read every book she has written other than the sequel to this one within the last two months. I tend to compare one to the other or this probably would be a five stars. The first half I would give a three but the second half is definitely at least five. I admit to not being real interested in Vikings and they are a big part of this story. It is the story of Eyvind who becomes part of the elite Viking fighters and of his relationship with his childhood friend, Somerled. They become blood brothers as boys and this bond in their culture is forever binding. It is a story of a bond and loyalty and how far that loyalty must go before it becomes impossible. It is also the story of Eyvind and Nessa, a priestess of the light isles, where the Vikings have landed and stayed. Nessa is like so many of Juliet Marillier's characters, an incredibly strong young woman who faces impossible odds to fight for her people and the man she comes to love. There is plenty of magic and mystery!

Once Nessa entered the story I LOVED it. I realize now I should have loved it all along! It took me awhile to really care for Eyvind, but then again all men grow and change with time and following his development is part of the book. Somerled is one you just have to read about as he is difficult to describe and figure out. At the end I still wasn't sure although no doubt there was a great deal of evil in him.

Looking forward to Foxmask, the sequel.
Profile Image for Sarah.
477 reviews26 followers
November 20, 2009
Well I finally finished this extremely LONG book, I found it quite good up until the last quarter which dragged a bit. I thought Somerled was the most interesting character in it, despite his evilness, and strange though it seems was starting to find him kind of... hot? At the end? Yes I KNOW he's a psychopath but he was just so snarky and clever and cranky and he DID display glimmers of secret and heartfelt feelings at the end. I especially liked that trial scene where they were all just standing around for about 200 pages yapping about the Signs and the Spirits and What Must Be Done to Punish Him and he was like "look, would you just GET ON WITH IT and kill me?" Haha.
I thought Eyvie and Nessa were a bit dull by contrast. The ending bits between them started to verge on Too Many Mushy Hearts and Flowers and I found myself wishing I could leave them to their Mills & Boonish lovemaking and get back to tortured, brooding and secretly heartbroken Somerled sailing away in his little boat.
The next book's about his son, yes? Goody, I hope to see him return and be re-united with poor ole Margaret, who I also liked (though she also started getting a bit drippy at the end, too much hanging around with Nessa I expect).
Profile Image for Kassi.
158 reviews34 followers
September 9, 2021
Two boys swear an oath that tie them together for life. One character is strong in body, the other strong in mind. This book explores the consequences of this oath, including themes such as trust, honor, ambition, courage, strength, truth, and justice.As men there is a problem. Is a promise made in childhood strong enough to ensure both character's happiness?

While Wolfskin isn't the conventional Marillier book that readers put above the rest, it is the one that has out-shined the rest for me. While I can't promise it will do that for other readers, I can say that Marillier's command of words and honed storytelling will not disappoint. It might not be as amazing as Sevenwaters or The Bridei Chronicles to some, but to take the chance of passing up this gem would be a certain mistake.

While Daughter of the Forest will always be dear to me as the first book I found by her, Wolfskin will outshine it by far. A gorgeous book with a chilling end. A tale that no doubt the reader will stir thoughts and feelings years after reading it.
Profile Image for Dani.
113 reviews
December 16, 2022
So first I just wanted to randomly point out some of the surprising similarities between this book and the Marvel Thor movies.

Eyvind/Thor: Blond, blue eyes, beefcake, lovable, main character, friends with everybody, not all that bright, tries to do the right thing most of the time but sometimes acts before he thinks, is a talented warrior, has a special named weapon, finds himself separated from his people in land of foreigners, falls for foreign woman, changes into a better person because of foreign woman in course of a few days,

Somerled/Loki: Dark hair, lean, not so lovable, has no friends except for aforementioned blond beefcake, not related to beefcake but they call each other "brother", is sneaky, fantastic liar, dreams his whole life of being King, not a great warrior like the beefcake but handy with knife, gets other people to do most of his dirty work, likes to play games, assumes control over his people after Ulf/Odin(See below) rendered incapable, becomes King and bungles it, tries to destroy land of foreigners and become their king, threatens beefcake's foreign woman,

Nessa/Jane: Brown hair, pretty, wise woman who likes to do "experiments", stumbles upon foreign beefcake in her homeland, falls for beefcake even though he wants to go back to his own land, has goofy sidekick,

Ulf/Odin: Rightful leader, is reasonably capable, neglects Somerled/Loki who is part of his family,

Margaret/Frigga: Wife of Ulf/Odin, is clever like Somerled/Loki, is close to Somerled/Loki and one of only people that he trusts.

Those were just a few similarities I noticed, and I left out a few that I thought were too spoilery. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that the characters from this book are actual Vikings. Eerie, huh?

On another note, this book is absolutely fantastic. Last year I read a lot of Marillier's books and quickly discovered that she was one of my favorite authors. Then around last December I read Child of the Prophecy, and I was not only disappointed, but I still don't think I've ever read a book that has made me feel so conflicted before in my life. Needless to say, I had taken a little break from Marillier. Last week I finally decided to read this book, and boy am I glad I did. It was amazing, and I think I loved it even more than Wildwood Dancing, although it is probably neck and neck with Daughter of the Forest, which is not only my favorite Marillier but one of my favorite books of all time. I was going to read a different book after this one originally, but there's no point in lying to myself; I'm definitely just going to end up checking out the sequel at the library next. Darn you, Marillier.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
1,438 reviews237 followers
January 8, 2016
Wolfskin by Juliet Marillier, my first book read in 2016 and the first time I have ever read a book by this author. I wish to thank Sheree from The Eclectic Reader for suggesting this author to me when I was searching around for New Zealand authors in early 2015.

What a saga, eventually I was swept up into the magic of storytelling. It took me a little while to be immersed in it, but once I was, I was reading into the night and picking it up as I ate breakfast!

Eyvind was a character that I just grew to love more and more. His desire in life has been to be a wolfskin, a warrior who is brave, at the forefront of battle. Not surprisingly not expected to see old age either! Eyvind never expected to change from that path, but circumstances decreed otherwise. As Nessa says to him "Things never stay the same, Evyi. People change. Paths change. You cannot know, when you are young, what life will hold for you as a grown man or woman..... It seems to me there is always a choice, there must be. No blood oath could make me act cruelly, or falsely, or in defiance of natural laws, no matter how solemnly it was sworn".

As Eyvind makes his way in life, always truth, loyalty, friendship and honour guide his heart. But sometimes that is not enough and tough decisions and choices have to be made. Sometimes courage is being at the forefront of the truth, whatever the cost.

Somerled is thrust on Eyvind when they are boys and he takes him under his wing, teaching him what he knows and making a blood oath to be brothers loyal to each other. While Somerled had some extenuating circumstances, it was difficult to like him. I hated how he undermined Evyind's belief in himself in terms of intelligence. I hated him for a lot more, but I don't want to say what, so as not to destroy the story for any reader.

Nessa the priestess in training and niece of the King of the Light Isles was a joy, full of wisdom and courage and love. Hers was eventually a burden of deep sorrow, but as she says there is always a choice. I loved her relationship with the priestess Rona, I loved how she found her way forward.

I loved how the beliefs and views mingled - there is the Christian viewpoint through the viewpoint of the holy man Tadgh, the god of the Norse and the ways and beliefs of the Folk on the island. In many ways they all held values and truths that were similar.

I am reluctant to leave these people. I held my breath, I wondered, I wept, I smiled. It won't be too long before I will be seeking out Foxmask, the second book in this duology.
Profile Image for Dakota★Magic in Every Book.
677 reviews112 followers
February 9, 2016
While I didn't enjoy this book as much as I did the Sevenwaters series, Wolfskin was still an excellent novel that mixed Viking lore and legend with Mariller's lyrical writing for a magical story that kept me with my nose in the book!
Profile Image for Holly.
529 reviews62 followers
April 27, 2010
Eyvind lives in snowy Rogaland where the Viking warriors called Wolfskins are honored above all. Every waking minute he longs for the day when he is old enough and skilled enough with bow and sword to answer god Thor's call and become a Wolfskin himself. In his training, he meets Somerled, the small, strange brother of the respected chieftain Ulf, who has neither friends nor survival skills. Over a summer of fishing, hunting, and combat, they become blood brothers. And strangely, years later it is quiet, in-the-background Somerled who secures Eyvind's chance to earn his place as the King's right-hand Wolfskin on a risky expedition to find the mysterious Light Isles. Unbeknown to Eyvind there will not be much need for fighting at first, and Somerled's quietness belies the cunning, ambitious man underneath. The native Folk are peaceful people willing to share their cold, untouched land, and the first treaty Ulf agrees to is peace. But soon enough and under dire circumstances the Warfather Thor will call, and Eyvind won't be so sure to answer him. Worst of all Somerled is calling in his blood-sworn loyalty against the very rare beauty Eyvind's found worth loving and fighting for.

This under-read historical novel set in Norway and the Orkney Islands by Juliet Marillier has cemented her place as one of my few beloved authors. Everything is here: the painstaking historical accuracy and attention to detail, the hard-won love story, and two protagonists overcoming great, dooming hardships of work and endurance before earning their bought and paid for happily ever after - all, of course, lined with the trademark magic of legend which naturally eases its way into the story. Again, these people and places feel like they exist, the events a part of history. Though Wolfskin builds slowly from Eyvind's boyhood to his departure on the grand Viking vessel Golden Dragon, the investment is worth the payoff. Evyind and Somerled's bond is something the reader experiences firsthand. Without it, our multifaceted understanding of Somerled's character and their relationship would not be possible. Instead of being black or white, I found it impossible to hate Somerled and rather sympathized with his plight. I also identified with simple-minded Eyvind and his conflicted honor. Like him we all underestimate our own potential and capacity for greatness. Ignoring the tiny pain I feel in reading the last book in Marillier's backlist I can not wait to open Foxmask.
Profile Image for Jessica.
42 reviews15 followers
September 29, 2007
Given the impact the Sevenwaters trilogy had on me, I expected to adore this - I wasn't really disappointed, I just didn't get as engrossed as I did with the author's previous books. I was slow getting into it at first, but it picked up for me once they reached the Light Isles and Nessa's perspective was introduced. I love the way that nature and the spirits of the earth are given such reverence in Juliet Marillier's works, and how she draws on mythology. Perhaps the reason why I didn't enjoy this as much as I thought I would was because the bleakness of it - but I think that tone was appropriate given that Norse culture was a major part of the story. It was still a stunning, compelling novel.
Profile Image for Geri Winney.
273 reviews3 followers
December 11, 2018
I almost quit this book pretty early on. I thought to myself that life is too short to feel this kind of anxiety and hopelessness while reading for pleasure. The sense of dread was almost unbearable. I was beating myself up for pushing thru, and stressing myself out needlessly. The villain in this was a special kind of vile, and I seriously didn't know how he would be stopped. At least not in time to save my frazzled nerves.

However, the bad guy was balanced out by the sweetness of the good guy. Our man was simple and straight forward. He was honest and strong; a good fighter and a good man, but completely guileless. So so naive you just want to squeeze him tight and fix everything for him.
Profile Image for Kaye.
4 reviews1 follower
September 24, 2017
This was my least favorite Juliet Marillier book. The story was decent, but her prose was excessively cliche at times, and it seemed to go on and on and on. It took a long time to find its rhythm, but I stuck with it because I've loved so many of her other books. It seems like huge chunks of unnecessary and long-winded detail could be taken out without impacting the story. This is the first time I won't be reading the second of a Marillier series.
Profile Image for Nadine in NY Jones.
2,701 reviews208 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
August 21, 2012
The first chapter draaaaaaaaaaaaaaags, but it seems to be picking up now.


It appears that I don't really like Vikings that much. Too much macho posturing and blood brother oaths and evil scheming blah blah blah. I'm quite possibly just at the part that gets good, but I've had it with this book for now and I'm setting it aside for a while.
Profile Image for Hannah Carey.
Author 14 books19 followers
August 17, 2021
Wolfskin was a little slow for me at the beginning, but once I got into it, I was hooked on Nessa and Evyi’s story. I really enjoyed Juliet Marillier’s take on “the Folk” of the Ornkey Islands and the Vikings. I loved Nessa as a heroine and I loved, loved, loved the emotional, internal journey that Eyvi went on as he found within himself what it took to be a good, fair leader and what strength truly looks like. I also particularly enjoyed Rona and Brother Tadgh and the roles they played in guiding the hero and heroine on their journey. As always, Juliet Marillier tackled difficult subjects, but with her uniquely engaging, folklore feel. Definitely an enjoyable read for those who love historical fantasy and romance.

CW: Rape & Violence
Profile Image for Audrey Jane.
193 reviews
August 17, 2021
The more I think about it the more it seems to me that the two male main characters are like Thor and Loki.
On par with the Sevenwaters trilogy. I enjoy reading about J. Marillier's strong heroines. They are going through so much before finding themselves and happiness though sometimes bittersweet. It's a real emotional rollercoaster. As always with her stories, I'm deeply invested through the end and feel for all her characters.
Profile Image for Francien.
391 reviews4 followers
March 2, 2018
Het is al jaren geleden dat ik boeken van Juliet Marillier heb gelezen.
In het begin moest ik er even inkomen, maar daarna zat ik helemaal in het verhaal.
Ik heb weer genoten van het verhaal wat op beeldende wijze wordt geschreven.
De geschiedenis en de magie maken dit een betoverend mooi boek.
Smaakt weer naar meer Juliet Marillier.
Profile Image for Wendy Gordon.
186 reviews
February 26, 2019
Wow what an absolutely amazing tale. I can't believe the imagination of this author she is brilliant. This is my third book by Juliet Marillier, I am addicted! 23 hours of wonderful listening to audio of this book. I've been in heaven or imaginary lands for days.
Profile Image for Valerie.
2,013 reviews161 followers
June 19, 2019
This fantasy novel kept my attention, but I probably won't read the others.
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