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An Apprentice to Elves

(Iskryne World #3)

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  419 ratings  ·  88 reviews
“[Bear and Monette] have boldly created a fascinating world that begs further exploration.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review, on A Companion to Wolves

Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear return with the third book in their Iskryne trilogy, An Apprentice to Elves. The trilogy began with A Companion to Wolves, and continued in The Tempering of Men. This novel picks up the story
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published October 13th 2015 by Tor Books
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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

I thought this book was pretty good. I loved the wolf concept as wolves are my favorite animals. I did not read the first two books prior to this one, I would like to find out the whole story so I can understand it a little bit more. But, this is fine for a stand-alone book, it doesn't continually refer to the past books to make you confused.

So the men bond to wolves but women are forbidden to do this, and to that, they can kiss my arse :)

Alfgyfa is an appre
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

It’s no surprise that my interest was piqued as soon as I saw the names on the cover of this book, considering how last year I loved Sarah Monette’s The Goblin Emperor (under her pseudonym Katherine Addison) and earlier this year I greatly enjoyed my first book by Elizabeth Bear. Better yet, I was told that even though An Apprentice to Elves is technically book three of the Iskryne World sequence, it would work perfectly f
Althea Ann
Aug 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm a big fan of Sarah Monette, but I have to admit that I wasn't hugely in love with the first two books in this series, co-written with Elizabeth Bear. However, I'm ENORMOUSLY glad that I stuck with the story and picked up "An Apprentice to Elves." I loved this book. However, I have to say that I would recommend it far more vigorously to fans of Monette's excellent The Goblin Emperor ( (written as Katherine Addison) than fans for the first two books in ...more
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
All I'm saying is I would read 3 more books about these dweebs ...more
Aug 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
"When they try to shame you, you wear their scorn like ribbons."
The harsh world of the North has seen and defeated many enemies, from the bitter winters to the fierce Trells and their reality-bending stone-molding. Aided by the tunnel-dwelling alfar, the men of the north have withstood all. But the legion of Rhean men who have arrived on their shores are a challenge they've never encountered: disciplined, determined, and willing to throw all the resources of their empire behind their goal of
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
AN APPRENTICE TO ELVES is being billed as the conclusion of the Iskryne trilogy. I'd hoped for more books in this series, but this is a good note to go out on. The Iskryne books are inspired by Viking history, with elves, trolls, and companion wolves thrown in. The first book detailed the world and the battle with the trolls, and the second book bought in a new human threat - the Rheans, who are basically Romans.

Once more, the book is told by new narrators. AN APPRENTICE TO ELVES alternates betw
Feb 11, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of epics like Beowulf, earthy fantasy (like Hild), medieval history buffs
This book series exists in an alternate past, in which men of a Nordic land psychically bond with huge, fierce wolves in order to fight the trolls that erupt from the ground and slaughter those before them. The troll queen was killed in A Companion to Wolves, thus defeating the trolls once and for all, and in The Tempering of Men the wolfcarls had to figure out what their place was without the threat of trolls. Their answer soon came: at the very least, they were needed to repel the invasion o ...more
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I haven't read the first two books in this trilogy. Since the first two books take place (I believe) about 15 years before this one, and since this book certainly ended on a note that feels like there could be more to come, I hope that instead of a trilogy there will instead be two duologies. There's certainly a lot more to say about this world and its societies.

The cultures we see are fantasy-Norse and fantasy-Roman,
Beth Coughlin Coughlin
GoodReads won't seem to let me write a review (perhaps because it is before the release date) but let me just say ... the book is worth the wait.

Binge read it yesterday - quick paced, would work as a stand alone although knowledge of the world that gave life to the book helps because of the pace. Really enjoyed that the subtle integration of inner character landscape with the twisting roller coaster of the external events.

As a third book in the trilogy, character are re-sketched, in case you a
Fantasy Literature
Feb 06, 2016 rated it liked it
An Apprentice to Elves, the third installment of the ISKRYNE series, is a book that depends on its thick world-building. Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette have created realistic cultures that take some cues from Norse and Roman history and dramatized a cultural conflict between them, at the same time as developing relationships and characters rooted in these cultures. Most of the narrative is set in the Northlands, an icy forested domain whose natural defenses are harsh enough to help the Northme ...more
Lynn Williams
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
An Apprentice to Elves is a beautifully written story that takes us to the land of the North – a harsh place to survive not only because of the fearsome winters but also because of attacks from invaders and trolls. The latest threat posed is from the Rheans – a relentless invader with endless resources and ruthless determination. This is book No.3 of the Iskryne Trilogy. My original review appears over at The Speculative Herald and this is a condensed vers
Oct 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
When AN APPRENTICE TO ELVES showed up in my mailbox (it was sent to me by the publisher) and I saw Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette’s names on the cover I totally squeed.

Until I discovered it was book 3 in the Iskryne series–how had I not heard of Bear’s new stuff? I loved her Eternal Sky series (start with RANGE OF GHOSTS); I read Monette’s MELUSINE and was meh about the story but not her writing craft, which is pretty amazing. I stomped around grumpily for a bit, but decided to dig in anyway w
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it

Publisher: Tor

Publishing Date: October 2015

ISBN: 9780765324719

Genre: Fantasy

Rating: 4.0/5

Publisher Description: The warrior culture of Iskryne forbids many things to women—and most especially it forbids them bonding to one of the giant telepathic trelwolves. But as her father was no ordinary boy, Alfgyfa is no ordinary girl. Her father has long planned to send his daughter to Tin, a matriarch among the elves who live nearby, to be both apprentice and ambas
Dec 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am sorry this is the end of the trilogy, because I liked it even more than the previous 2 books. The POV characters gripped me more than the ones in the previous books... and I don't think that was entirely because they are all biologically female; I think it provided a broader look into the society as a whole.

Two of the women are exceptional: Alfgyfa because of her inborn talents (including being able to communicate with the trellwolves), and her rearing as an apprentice to the svartalfar wit
Nov 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Third in a series of fantasy novels set in an alternate Nordic past, and another marvel of detailed wold-building. I find these irresistible! This one focuses on the daughter of Isolfr (hero of the first two tales), a magnificent woman who has the skill and muscle to become a metal-worker/stonecutter under the tutelage of elves, and who manages to forge alliances that may save her world. These require me to pay close attention in order to follow the tale, but reward me with the authors' startlin ...more
At long last, war with Rhean comes. The second most interesting thing in A Companion to Wolves (the first is its interrogation of the companion animal trope) is the issue of gender--a society more diverse and, perhaps, enlightened than its real-world equivalent, but profoundly affected by sexism, with a narrative that confronts that issue. Here, all the PoV characters are directly impacted by sexism, and it's a change that centralizes the issue. It interacts with worldbuilding but also with mult ...more
Jan 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Going for 3 even though it crept up to 4 stars at the end there. The heartbreak came thick and fast suddenly. But then it all ended pretty abruptly.

I did like the new POVs a lot but every time there are new povs and not the old ones I feel further from the story. Loads of plot about characters I care about was relayed second hand and/or from a distance. So yeah, it just wasn't as satisfying a read as it could have been.
Feb 23, 2015 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Aug 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Good series ender. I really liked the idea of the sworn son (very gender-bendy that, in a series full of weird sexualities). The elves are well-done--not to mention the wyrd of the Rheans.
Dark Faerie Tales
Oct 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: For the diehard fantasy fan, this novel has a richly detailed world and complex characters.

Opening Sentence: Even as a grown woman of fifteen, Alfgyfa never stopped thinking about the wolves she had encountered as a child.

The Review:

An Apprentice to Elves is the third novel in The Iskryne series by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette. This is definitely a series/novel for the die-hard fantasy novel fan. An Apprentice to Elves can be read as a stand
Oct 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
I want to pref­ace this review with a caveat, whereby I am fully aware that read­ing only the final book in a tril­ogy can be a risky affair. In truth, I wasn’t even aware that Sarah Mon­ette and Eliz­a­beth Bear’s An Appren­tice to Elves was part of a tril­ogy until I was about halfway through the prologue.

It’s risky for two reasons:

1. You might not get char­ac­ter moti­va­tion, inten­sity of risks and threats, or lore that was bet­ter defined in the other books. You might think the char­ac­ter
I don't think I've ever been this disappointed in a book before. I loved the first book (and have read it multiple times) and thought the second book was okay. But instead of getting good again, this book sunk to dismal levels. I truly didn't like anything about this book. Here are the most major of my issues with it:

More than a decade has passed since the last book. What have the Rheans been doing all this time? If you want to conquer a people, you don't sit and twiddle your thumbs while they g
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I was suprised by how much I was going to miss this universe when I closed the last page in the book. Every book in the trilogy has has a slightly different theme or overarching narrative, while doing an excellent job of expanding the characters and the world they inhabit. Perhaps this book resonanted the most for me because it was very female-centered, and Alfgyfa, while not the sole main character, makes a fascinating entry point for the reader, that draws them into her world and concerns.

Sep 11, 2015 rated it liked it
I was approved an ARC of this book by the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This review was originally posted at

The worldbuilding of this novel was definitely a highlight whilst reading, it was very interesting and rich with cultural detail, the groups’ way of living, their social structure, etc. I can see a lot of Viking and Nordic influences in the society, especially with the naming system. As the book blurb
Jun 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Probably closer to a 2 in terms of plot, which I found dragged a bit in places - it picked up a lot in the final third or so, but it felt like there was a lot of pointless meandering through the beginning and middle bits. I LOVED the focus on the women, though - loved Otter, loved Alfgyfa, loved Thorlot so much that I was sad there wasn't more of her, and Tin was as ever a delight. And the wolves - as always, so much love for the wolves.

There were some absolutely devastating parts as well. Fucki
Brian Palmer
Dec 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
For all that this is a novel about war between Romans and the Norse, with death, politics, and ancient enmities ... this felt like somehow lighthearted. Life in the North is idyllic ... the jarls presented are democratic and everybody works together. The girl who is the titular "Apprentice to Elves" has a somewhat uncomfortable life living as the only human in a city of svartalves, but it's a mild discomfort, of not being able to fully speak the elven language or fully stand up in the short room ...more
Kris Sellgren
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear complete their fantasy trilogy about a near-equivalent to Viking era Scandinvia where some male warriors telepathically bond with wolves and trolls are over-running human lands. An Apprentice to Elves soars as it explores this world from the female point of view. Trolls have been driven out, tentative truces have been made between humans and elves, but the Rheans (read Romans) are invading. We see the story from the perspective of a human woman and an elf woman w ...more
Jamie Collins
Dec 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
2.5 stars. I liked this okay, but I’m just not very interested in the elves of this world. I preferred the scenes with the wolves and wolfcarls. I do like the conflict with the invading “Rhean” army (the Romans), and I especially liked the scenes from Otter’s point of view.

I love the Northmen names so much that I didn’t mind not being able to keep the characters straight. Go ahead, throw me konigenwolf and wolfsprechend; konungur and godheofodman; and let me root for people named Hreithulfr and
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
I'm so glad I read this series. I assumed, based on the first book's cover, that it would be fluffy--but that wasn't the case at all. This series is a well-written fantasy adventure as well as an exploration of gender. And if you think that sounds preachy, it's not (the authors are merely posing questions, not shrieking answers), and if you think that sounds dull, it's not (you can read the stories as a fantasy tale of vikings, elfs, bonded wolves, and romans and nothing deeper).

I especially en
A Reader's Heaven
May 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: net-galley, war, fantasy
(I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.)

Sarah Monette and Elizabeth Bear return with the third book in their Iskryne trilogy, An Apprentice to Elves. The trilogy began with A Companion to Wolves, and continued in The Tempering of Men. This novel picks up the story of Alfgyfa, a young woman who has been raised in the Wolfhall by her father Isolfr, who is the human leader of the queen-wolf Viridechtis' pack, and was the protagonist of the first book.
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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

Other books in the series

Iskryne World (3 books)
  • A Companion to Wolves (Iskryne World, #1)
  • The Tempering of Men (Iskryne World, #2)

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