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The Chathrand Voyage #1

The Red Wolf Conspiracy

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Told with infectious joy and enthusiasm by an immensely talented new writer this is a landmark fantasy debut. The Chathrand - The Great Ship, The Wind-Palace, His Supremacy's First Fancy - is the last of her kind - built 600 years ago she dwarves all the ships around her. The secrets of her construction are long lost. She was the pride of the Empire. The natural choice for the great diplomatic voyage to seal the peace with the last of the Emperor's last enemies. 700 souls boarded her. Her sadistic Captain Nilus Rose, the Emperor's Ambassador and Thasha, the daughter he plans to marry off to seal the treaty, a spy master and six assassins, one hunderd imperial marines, Pazel the tarboy gifted and cursed by his mother's spell and a small band of Ixchel. The Ixchel sneaked aboard and now hide below decks amongst the rats. Intent on their own mission. But there is treachery afoot. Behind the plans for peace lies the shadow of war and the fear that a dead king might live again. And now the Chathrand, having survived countless battles and centuries of typhoons has gone missing. This is her story.

464 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2008

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About the author

Robert V.S. Redick

11 books660 followers
Robert V.S. Redick is the author of Master Assassins and Sidewinders (July 2021), the first two novels in The Fire Sacraments epic fantasy series. Master Assassins (2018) was a finalist for the European Booknest Award for Best Novel, and was featured on numerous Best of the Year lists. Patrick Rothfuss said of it, "I like this book so much I wish I could have written it, but deep down I know I couldn't have written it so well."

Robert is also the author of the Chathrand Voyage Quartet (The Red Wolf Conspiracy and sequels), among the most beloved and critically acclaimed epic fantasy series of recent years. He is a former instructor in the Stonecoast and University of Nevada Reno MFA programs.

Redick is also an environmental justice consultant, and has lived and worked in Indonesia, Argentina, Colombia and many other countries. He and his partner, Dr. Kiran Asher, pick wild blueberries in Western Massachusetts.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 368 reviews
Profile Image for Marc *Dark Reader of the Woods*.
770 reviews124 followers
October 25, 2022
I put my post-series impressions at the bottom. In short, should you give this quartology a try? If you're a fantasy fan of most any stripe, the answer is a resounding "yes!"


I only became aware of Robert V.S. Redick (which is, surprisingly, NOT a battle between Robert and Redick) through a comment on a group discussion board about talking rats. That was enough to grab me, and the full book blurb sounded fun, and the author's bio really grabbed me for whatever reason. He is not a highly prolific fantasy author. Based on his numbers of GR ratings he is one of those increasingly rare "mid-range" traditionally published authors. He is not putting out books at the now-gold-standard one/year rate, likely still needs his day job, and given that his next series beginning with Master Assassins is not from the same publisher (instead coming to us from Talos books, a smaller SF/F/horror imprint that takes unagented submissions, also increasingly rare these days), may have been turned down by the publisher of the Chathrand Voyages due to insufficient sales.

But damn, I like the cut of his (literary) jib.

Speaking of jibs, The Red Wolf Conspiracy is a nautical fantasy adventure full of mystery, magic, woke animals, racism (against, not for), tiny deadly people, and some other stuff. It's not earth-shattering, not genre-changing, not going to break people, but it is something missing from a lot of recent fantasy: fun. It's a lot of fun! Not so much for the characters as they struggle just to survive sometimes, let alone come out ahead in the multiple machinations of captains, nations, wizards, and rat kings, but the story on the whole has a lively, peppy, joyful appeal. It feels like it was fun to write. It was definitely fun to read.

Even before I started this book, I got myself a copy of Master Assassins and am looking forward to that book even more than the rest of this series. I am thankful to whoever brought this book to my attention in the first place, and equally thankful that my library carried the first two volumes in this series, cementing it for me as a series worth trying. Now, this author, along with a couple of others, are foremost in my mind as I gradually convert from getting virtually all of my books from the library or used, to realizing that if I like a particular author and want to see more work from them in the future, I gots to actually buy their damn books from time to time.


Re-read update in anticipation of continuing the series. It's rich in details and I wanted the refresher. I enjoyed it even better than the first time. What struck me this time was the outstanding wordcraft; Redick's prose is tightly controlled; description is light but highly evocative with great word choice. Any necessary exposition is handled naturally. It really makes me wonder why I have bothered to read so much overly-verbose crap in my life. This is an author I will absolutely continue to buy books from.



OMFG it is SO GOOD! Read it already! Look, there are possibly one or two sections in the first book that didn't quite seem to fit seamlessly. The rest of the series completely eliminates this possible minor gripe. So what are you waiting for? It's classic-inspired fantasy with contemporary sensibilities. Wholly original. Full of hope, love, adventure across sea and land, it will take you to locations beyond imagining, populated by creatures and races without parallel. Riveting action scenes, heartfelt moments, complex characters while retaining a mostly clear delineation of good and evil, right and wrong. It doesn't alter the fantasy genre, but it sets a wonderfully high bar for quality.

Characters: 5/5
Setting: 13/5
Plot: 9/4
Dialogue: 5/5
Writing: 12/6
Total: 28/7
Reviewer's math skills: 3/5

Am I gushing? I'm gushing, but deservedly so. I don't fanboy over many things these days; right now, it's basically only Robin Hobb and now Robert V.S. Redick.

This is a series that I would love to re-read, and there aren't many of those for me currently, as I age and see Death on the (still very distant) horizon and think, I must consume more, MORE! There is not enough time! But this, THIS is worth re-experiencing.
April 24, 2009
The first novel by a new fantasy author, The Red Wolf Conspiracy is both interesting and exasperating. Redick has woven together a complicated narrative with characters, plots, and intrigue coming from all directions. In some sense it's a fascinating world with a mad mix of unexpected elements. (Ships and pirates must be in vogue; I've read a number of fantasy/SF novels with a very large focus on ships and sailing in the last couple of years, yet have no memory of having read any with such focus previous to that...must be the Pirates of the Caribbean effect)

The pacing of the book is strange, however. It reads fairly easily and quickly, but there are huge time segments that are just missing. Some of these can be written off as "riding on a ship can be monotonous and boring so nothing interesting happened in the last few weeks" but the jumps in time often felt rather forced and weren't always transitioned well. This also led to some rather hearty exposition in the later parts of the book where some characters would be describing to other characters about all of the events that had happened while they were gone...many such being critical events that do not appear in the book other than as exposition. Events that probably should have been appeared in the natural narrative. I don't know if this was done to keep the length of the book down, to improve the pacing, or just because it felt right to the author, but I found it frustrating to be hearing about major pieces of the plot rather than seeing it (if that makes sense).

Beyond the choppy narrative, other plot devices sometimes seemed to fall out of nowhere, or at least, seemed more forced instead of growing naturally from the world which had been described. Like the extended exposition, this was particularly common in the last quarter of the book. The ending was particularly sudden, with everything falling together in a rather quick burst; something of a letdown after all of the build-up and serving more to set up the next book rather than complete this one.

Overall, this is not a bad book, but neither is it a great one. It's an interesting new fantasy world with a complicated story but an overly simplified timeline and world-building elements that don't appear to have meshed as organically as one would prefer. Perhaps the sequel (this is the first book in a planned series; probably a trilogy but maybe more?) will be smoother.
Profile Image for Jason.
1,179 reviews256 followers
December 25, 2011
4.5 Stars

This was a very enjoyable novel and a fun read. It is a pirate type novel, but not in the swashbuckling typical way. Although I liked many of the characters, and Pazel is an interesting main protagonist, this is not a character study. This book works by giving us a riptide roaring fun adventure.

This book is filled with action, suspense, mystery, a bit of magic, and a whole lot of sea going fun. The world is painted vividly and it gives it a great fantastical feel. The book takes you away out to sea, and has you pondering for the answers behind the Red Wolf Conspiracy.

Even with a few flaws, I absolutely loved reading this book. I had fun and could not wait to read more. Not all novels give you that great escape feel, that this one does so well.

I cannot wait to read the next one, and highly recommend this one to fantasy lovers. This book would work for the YA crowd as well.

Profile Image for Giota.
295 reviews48 followers
December 13, 2021
The main problem of this book is telling not showing which affected the pacing of the book a lot.

Nearly all the interesting parts of the book happened off page and we were later told about them, almost as if the author didn't know how to handle the scene: details of action, fighting, organizing a counter conspiracy e.c.t., so he opted for eliminating it all together. I was very frustrated, he kept giving me the wrapping while telling me how yummy the chocolate was.

The first 130 pages crawled along with exposition and it felt like we were getting the characters' profiles. It was particularly annoying because, we got everything there was to know about the characters in the beginning, leaving no mystery to uncover, while as the story progressed there were so many great opportunities for the author to introduce those same info, in a way that would feel more natural and less boring for the reader. For example, when Pazel met Thasha he was asked who he was and where he came from. At this point Pazel could have told us about his life before and his Gift but instead we get a reference to what we were already told on chapter 8: "So for the second time in ten days, he did what he had long sworn never to do: he told strangers about his Gift." (Chapter 17). This happened a lot!

Another thing that proves the writer's inexperience is the fact that he gave away the whole plot (through exposition) too soon leaving the reader to follow the ignorant main cast as they were blundering about. Even the way the main characters learned of the conspiracy is clumsy. Instead of having several people have pieces of the puzzle and slowly put it together, he had several characters learn the whole plan form different sources and then somehow get their lines crossed and fail to communicate so that they're all on the same page. It was not nicely done.

Too many deus ex machina solutions were also used. Characters appeared out of nowhere in all kinds of places and were conveniently saved at the last minute.

It's clear that there's a lot of potential here but the execution needed a lot of work.

Surprisingly I was hooked by the characters and I might give the second book a try.
Profile Image for Dirk Grobbelaar.
550 reviews1,051 followers
January 31, 2013
This novel does suffer a bit from debut-novel syndrome. Fortunately, much of what distinguishes this novel as a debut is also the very same that makes it so likeable. There is a feverish and impatient quality to the writing that keeps the reader on edge. Stylistically, The Red Wolf Conspiracy is as diverse as it gets; it’s a fantasy paella.

The novel is crammed with throwaway lines referencing the world and its imagined history. I found this quite enjoyable, as it reminded me of the pulps where authors didn’t always have the luxury of spending pages and pages on their setting.

The story skipped around a bit, and at one point fairly went off on such a tangent it felt as if I was in a whole different novel, but there is method to Redick’s madness, as it turns out. As for the characters: their names are so colourful it almost makes up for any other weaknesses. As is often the case in genre fiction, the secondary characters are the ones that are most endearing. My favourite: Neeps Undrabust. Towards the end of the book there are so many things happening that it’s hard to keep track. It can get confusing, what with the multiple plot lines. What’s more, there is a multitude of animal characters in here as well - a busy little novel, this. It’s certainly something different, even though you won’t find the story itself totally unfamiliar.

This is the first novel in a series that, at the time of writing this, comprises four novels, so I expected a fair share of loose ends, but hot-dang it sure does end smack dab in the middle of things.
Profile Image for edifanob.
613 reviews53 followers
July 20, 2009
Normally I write reading impressions.
But this time I wrote a review. A new experience. And I'm proud to tell that the review has been post on a blog.

"The Red Wolf Conspiracy is like a gorgeous gown. Colorful, beads, frills, buttons, ribbons, feathers, hidden pockets, scented sachets, several layers of cloth. Every detail is like a person with her own history, thoughts and plans. All bent together by a golden thread whose stich is anything but random. So far, we have discovered the surface and the first layer of cloth. But fortunately "dressmaker" Redick is working on the next layers. We expect the next delivery soon..."

My full review: http://onlythebestscifi.blogspot.com/...
Profile Image for Doc Opp.
442 reviews194 followers
September 9, 2012
There's an old trope in children's literature where the child protagonist has identified the villain, and the villains' scheme, and no adults will listen to them. Rather than helping solve the problem, the adults typically get in the way of resolution by grounding the children, or tipping off the villain, etc. This trope works really well in children's literature, but not nearly as well in adult fantasy novels, where it's just annoying.

Add to that a set of protagonists who are impulsive and not terribly bright, and an opening 100 pages that crawls along with exposition and this is the sort of book I normally would have put down without finishing. But since it came highly recommended I forced myself to keep going, and when Redick eventually does get around to the action and intrigue it gets better. The plot still feels contrived - the danger doesn't feel real because you know some hackneyed plot device will come around to save the character no matter how dire the situation. And the book went on about 70 pages too long - the closing exposition wasn't much better than the opening exposition.

There are parts of the book that are quite clever, and the author has potential, although in this (his first book) it remains just that: potential. I probably won't bother with the rest in this series, although I could imagine trying a future series from the author.

One final note. The book reminded me a lot of Golden Compass - not so much in terms of plot, but in terms of style, pacing, character type, and tone. I didn't like Golden Compass at all, and didn't read the rest of that series either - although I have friends who absolutely loved it. So if that series appealed to you, then this one might be more to your liking than it was to mine.
Profile Image for Phil.
1,544 reviews87 followers
September 8, 2021
Impressive debut novel by Redick, and while it shows some rookie mistakes, it also demonstrates a great deal of promise. This is a very busy novel with a wide range of characters to say the least and also involves various strange creatures and magics. Ambitious to be sure! Yet, Redick pulls it off and I am ready for the next installment.

In its most basic form, the plot surrounds a boat voyage carrying the bride to establish peace between the two great empires of the world, but that is like saying the Apollo mission was about just about a manned voyage to the moon. First, the ship itself is amazing-- a massive, 600 year old relic that is one of the largest ships ever build. Beyond the basic voyage lies the conspiracy hinted at in the title, which we learn early on is not about a peace mission/wedding, but a plan to start a civil war and then conquest with the wedding simply as backdrop...

The characters are quite diverse (and the cast is large), but the story centers upon a handful that find themselves on the great sea going Chathrand. Pazel is arguably the lead-- a young man basically bonded into being a 'tarboy' on various ships. His city-state was conquered several years prior and he escaped slavery by becoming a tarboy. Pazel is bright with a gift for languages augmented by a spell his mother cast, allowing him to learn just about any language without effort. We also have Thasha, the 'bride', who is 17 years of spitfire and is not happy about the idea at all. She is the daughter of an old Navy commander who is now rebranded as a diplomat. Dir is a 'crawlie'-- a race of people under one foot tall that now 'plague' ports and ships after being brought from their homeland 100s of years ago. She is a lot larger than her minute size. Finally, we have a 'mink' mage from another world who hangs out with Thasha. Needless to say, there are about 15 or so strong supporting roles as well.

One of my concerns about this story is the shear complexity-- Redick does not give us info dumps for the most part and it takes a while to sort out what exactly is going on. That, and the number of POVs sometimes make this a little dizzying! Yet, after about half way through it starts to pull together nicely. You can tell this is just the opening installment of a series, however, as Redick lays down a lot of world building here and the story is far from being over at the end. Overall, a fun nautical read set largely on a really cool ship with lots of political machinations and clashing egos. 3.5 stars, rounding up!
Profile Image for Jeffrey.
889 reviews109 followers
May 31, 2009
I generally liked this book, although I am not a fan of fantasy novels that end mid story so you have to wait for the second book.

The main character is Pazel, a tarboy ,who gets aboard a mighty ship carrying the daughter of an Ambassador, who is supposed to marry the Prince of their mortal enemies to stop an ongoing war between their people. Pazel, has a magical gift of languages, which enables him to speak any language. The ancient ship is full of interesting characters, the Ambassador's beautiful wife, an ex-slave, a magician who has taken the form of a minx, some small "Crawlies" who are hated by humans, the ambassador's daughtors valet, a great swordsman, Nagan, the chief spy of the Emperor who is onboard the ship for a secret mission and Rose the captain of the ship. There are plots afoot, as Pazel, finds a plenty. He befriends the Ambassador's daughter and the crawlies and Neeps a fellow tarboy and their are adventures aplenty as the novel barrels in spits and spurts to the compelling end. The first 100 or so pages take a while to unwind, as we learn who Pazel is, but the last 200 pages move along quickly and interestingly enought. I liked this novel, but I thought there were issues in the beginning and at the end, there was point where the author summarized important action that was not recounted in the story -- which could have been.

I believe this is the first novel by this author and I expect his technique to be better in the future
Profile Image for Matteo.
81 reviews18 followers
December 27, 2021
Usually I prefer to give a written review after I read the complete series, but in this case I can't help to share just a few words.
I was a little sceptical at the beginning, because I'm not really into nautical fantasy, as other readers defined this book.
Well, now I can say that this is one the best fantasy books I have ever read.
Brilliant, well-written, imaginative, it has everything I love in a fantasy book and I would suggest it to all the fantasy lovers.
I hope the other books in the series will be on the same level.
Profile Image for Ranting Dragon.
404 reviews229 followers
June 9, 2011

The Red Wolf Conspiracy is debut novelist Robert V. S. Redick’s first installment in The Chathrand Voyage series. Pazel Pathkendle is a lonesome tarboy hailing from one of Arqual’s many conquered territories. After a series of unfortunate events – perhaps, Pavel wonders, orchestrated by his mysterious friend Doctor Chadfellow – Pavel ends up on The Chathrand, a vast and ancient ship that is the pride of her country. The crew’s apparent mission is peaceful: they are to carry an important Arquali general’s daughter overseas to marry a prince of the Mzithrin, Arqual’s traditional foe. But the ship’s secrets run deep, and soon Pazel finds himself battling for more than just his own life in the midst of a conspiracy years in the making.

A completely new and sparkling world
Redick has created a wonderful and immersive world. Animals mysteriously awaken and find themselves with the powers of thought and speech. The ixchel, tiny humanoids reminiscent of the Borrowers, scurry about the holds of ships in fear of loathsome humans (giants), pursuing their own unfathomable ixchel goals. Murths, or sea-people, equate language with magic, and murder men for their own survival. A long-lost, manic god-king seeks power over every nation on the planet. Alright, so not all of that is completely new. Yet Redick’s enthusiasm for the world of Alifros is infectious, and each fantastic element is happily well-realized and serves a purpose in the plot.

Apart from the grandly fantastic, The Red Wolf Conspiracy focuses on Alifros’s most vulnerable citizens. Pazel never lets anyone forget that his home, Ormael, was invaded by Arqual and that its men were slaughtered. Neeps, a sympathetic tarboy, is similarly disenfranchised. Thasha, the general’s daughter, is being forced into a marriage against her will, while Felthrup is a woken rat and is surely one of the most miserable creatures to ever creep in fiction. The Red Wolf Conspiracy is all about the underdog; there’s no all-powerful nobility here.

Quick, playful writing and characters
And yet this novel is a riot! Redick’s crisp prose keeps the plot bouncing along despite the twists and turns, and every scene is infused with a dash of good humor no matter how grim things get. It reminded me of Tad Williams’ Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn series: although both series share an epic and serious adventure, the authors still manage to keep the tone light-hearted and even occasionally funny.

The light-hearted characters help. Every character in The Red Wolf Conspiracy has a ton of heart and is immediately relatable. Although, once again, the protagonists are inexperienced kids thrown in over their heads, Pavel and Thasha’s individualism makes this tired old trope feel fresh and modern. Aside from the typical third-person limited perspective, Redick also tosses in several excerpts from Alifros documents, such as the Quartermaster’s hidden diary and Captain Rose’s letters to his family. These excerpts are full of the outrageously inaccurate assumptions that only fictional characters can make, and they often had me laughing out loud even as they advanced the sinister plot.

Bit off a bit more than he could chew
Of course, it becomes difficult balancing this many characters and plot threads, and The Red Wolf Conspiracy unravels a little at the end. The last few chapters are a disappointing fizzle compared to the action-packed book that came before: the villains are unsatisfactorily scary, and the climax relies on a few too many coincidences. However, I attribute these flaws to the fact that this is Redick’s first published novel. He’s still mastering the craft; with such a fantastic opening (and middle), the disappointing fifty or so pages at the end really don’t matter. If Redick can regain the strength and exuberance he maintained for most of the novel, The Chathrand Voyage will be one of the top fantasy debut series published in the decade.

Why should you read this book?
Life at sea? Pirates? Tiny people and talking animals? You got it. This is epic fantasy at its theatrical peak: wonderful characters, swashbuckling action, political intrigue, and an enormously rich and developed world. Get swept up by The Chathrand, but be prepared for a rocky ending – here’s hoping the sequel, The Ruling Sea, achieves this story’s true potential.
Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,004 reviews2,597 followers
June 2, 2013
The Good:

Love how this book started -- right away, the reader is informed through a "special notice" that the great ship has vanished at sea, along with the 800 souls she was carrying. (Souls...the choice of that word in the report had a chilling effect on me). Immediately, you're drawn into this mystery and you're flipping to the first page of the first chapter, eager to start the story which would tell you what happened.

I was also impressed with just how much is in this book. There's so much magic and different races and different creatures in this book. Everyone seems to have an element of fantasy surrounding them, like Pazel the tarboy who has been blessed/burdened with a gift/curse that allows him learn and understand any language after only being exposed to them for a short time. But this power, however, also frequently gives him debilitating fits that interferes with his job aboard the decks.

Then there are the Ixchel, a race of tiny people that sailors often consider nothing more than pests because their tendency to stow away aboard ships. There are also the Flikkermen, Murths (like mermaids), and a race of gigantic, enormously strong humanoids called the Augrong, among others. Not to mention the presence of special animals that are "awakened" with self-awareness and the power of intellectual thought and speech. The book is a trove of new and interesting ideas for people who love fantasy fiction.

The So-So:

There is such thing as too much of a good thing. The plus of having so much going on in this book can also be seen as a minus. There are a lot of ambitious ideas in this ambitious story set in an ambitious fantasy world, and sometimes it can all get just a little too overwhelming.

The first few chapters were done really well, telling a sequence of events through the eyes of several characters, with each point-of-view picking things up right after where the last one left off. Unfortunately, it also made me feel so disoriented that I had to go back and read through them again just to make sure I didn't miss anything. At this point, there were still a lot of things I didn't understand, but I just made do with telling myself to trust the author, that hopefully there will come a time when everything will be made clear.

Ultimately, everything was explained, which was good, but I still thought it was a lot in the intro to heap upon your reader so quickly.

The Not-So-Good:

This is more of a personal preference, really, but I just don't think "maritime fantasy" is for me. Reading about great ships and pirates and the ocean and sailing and all that puts me more in mind of historical fiction, and so I had a really hard time bringing myself back to the fact I'm actually reading a fantasy. It's just really weird. No matter how long I'd been reading this, there was always a moment of discombobulation and confusion when I picked up the book again to continue where I left off.

Unfortunately, it really kept me from being immersed in this book and enjoying it fully. That said, those who love maritime settings and stories about ships would probably really love this. But even though that aspect wasn't exactly my cup of tea, I do have to say I was completely enchanted by the book's fantasy elements.
Profile Image for Shauna Lawless.
Author 2 books199 followers
January 24, 2023
I enjoyed this book a lot, even though I’d say I’m not a huge fan of YA. However, when I do read YA, I prefer that it’s filled with adventure rather than romance – and so on this count, The Red Wolf Conspiracy fit the bill.

My favourite part of this book was the setting. I enjoyed the voyage on the Chathrand and all the naval terminology. For me, this really set the book above other adventure fantasy YA novels. I really felt that I was aboard at times, so well realised was the ship and her inhabitants. Pazel, a tarboy, was our main protagonist and I enjoyed finding out about how a great ship operates through his eyes.

Another highlight was the ‘wakened’ animals and the Ixchel. It added a more fantastical element to the story than I was expecting. The Ixchel were a fascinating race, who are brave and daring, and due to their small size, were able to work out much of the scheming underway.

Also, I loved the voice of Felthrup, the wakened rat. The voice that the author used to show his inner POV, was brilliant. I really felt for him, living amongst other rats who thought he was crazy.

Overall, the story is intricate. There are lots of characters plotting and double crossing. The antagonists have some POV chapters too, which were always very interesting, and the book has several ‘journal’ chapters from the perspective of the Quartermaster, Fiffengurt. These are always fun, because he can tell something is awry, but not what. The style of the journal was sometimes quite gossipy – which rather randomly put me in mind of Lady Whistledown.

My only criticism, was that the children protagonists felt very young. They made lots of childish mistakes – were too trusting, blurted out their thoughts at inappropriate times – and sometimes this grated. The adults around them were more interesting and part of me wishes this was told as an adult fantasy, rather than YA.

That being said, I’m told as the series progresses the children characters age up and the series becomes more adult. I’m definitely looking forward to this as I feel the series will suit my tastes even more.

I’d definitely recommend this series for fans of His Dark Materials, as the mixture of children protagonists and ‘wakened’ animals, would suit you. I’d also say it would be a good YA series for fans of Malazan – as there is large scale world building and an interesting soft magic system.
Profile Image for Kelsey Hanson.
868 reviews33 followers
December 12, 2015
What the heck did I just read? This could probably be one of the weirdest novels that I've ever read which is a pretty hard thing to achieve, I've read a lot of weird books. This review is going to be a little odd because I honestly am not sure what this book is about. If a teacher made me write a book report on this thing I would fail. This book has the following elements and I quote: a witch who casts a spell on her children using fruit juice, a ship that is a combination of the Black Pearl and the RMS Titanic, tiny people (think The Borrowers), mermaid/siren creatures, a mysterious wolf statue, a strange form of colonialism gone awry, sorcerers, talking animals, talking animals that are really sorcerers and live in a magical world hidden in a clock *pauses for breath*, mindfits, magic books, political coups and arranged marriages. And yet I still hated this book! The pacing is so ridiculous that it goes by too fast to understand much. I know that I probably won't finish this series. I'm still pretty baffled about it.
Profile Image for Reed.
207 reviews31 followers
June 14, 2009
It's one of those great things about books--you can stumble across one at just the right time, all the stars align, and the book turns out to be exactly what you wanted and needed.

That's how I reacted upon reading Robert Redick's The Red Wolf Conspiracy. A debut novel, I'd heard very little buzz about the book when I picked it up. I believe I'd seen a couple blurbs on various websites touting it's potential, so I put it on my "check it out" list. When I stumbled across a very nice copy of the U.K. edition for a pittance, I decided to give it a go, and I'm certainly glad I did.

The novel tells the tale of a large cast of characters and their lives and interactions in connection to the last of the great ships, The Chathrand. Created by now-forgotten methods, The Chathrand is a monstrous ship that is the crown of the kingdom of Arqual.

The book introduces us to a wide variety of characters, from the somewhat traditional plucky hero with a great name, Pazel Pathkendle, to Thasha, daughter of the emperor's ambassador traveling on the ship, to Nilus Rose, irrational and brutal captain of the Chathrand. You have spymasters, a race of tiny beings called the Ixchel, warring countries brought to life with well-crafted descriptions, and loads of adventure on and off the high seas.

I certainly wasn't expecting much when I picked up this book, but I'm certainly glad I did. I look forward to the further of adventures of Pazel and the rest of the characters. Recommended.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,329 reviews29 followers
October 19, 2016
Good fantasy (not great) set on a mythical medieval sea-faring world (maps at author's website). The tale is told in 3rd person perspective, and occasionally through letters and journal entries written in 1st person. It is an epic fantasy primarily featuring sorcery, humans, and sentient "woken" animals that can speak, and humanoids (glowing electrical Flickermen, tiny Lilliputian "Ixchel").

The main protagonists are young adults, but adults and woken animals also play major roles. There is a very thin thread of romance. I'd classify this as YA or adult. I liked the protagonists well enough, and I understood what motivated the villains (but not the Mage). The characters are not all they appear to be.

I was hoping for a nautical adventure, and I got that, to some degree. Clearly the author knows about sailing and seamanship. But I was also hoping the ship would be special — and not just excessively large, strong, and old. Since "The Chathrand" was designed by the long-dead best, including mages, I was hoping she would have some surprises up her sleeve. Perhaps she'd even be sentient. Alas not — at least not in this first book. Maybe I need to read book 2.

The writing quality is fairly strong, but the author could have shortened this book a little, and he does use conversations as a venue for info-dumping, or to remind the reader of plot threads.

Narration not recommended.
Profile Image for Joanne.
553 reviews54 followers
August 29, 2020
This was a fun easy read. High adventure, good world building, strange magic and "wakened" animals (animals who achieve intelligence). Oh, and there are the Ixchel, thumb sized humans. I really liked the Ixchel, they reminded me of Tom Thumb and/or The Borrowers.

Our main protagonist, Pazel Pathkendle, is a young boy whose family was lost in a war. He becomes a "tar boy" (basically a gopher) on merchant ships. Along his adventures we meet a host of characters, both good and evil and Pazel becomes wrapped in a conspiracy which will envelope the world in another war.

More Young Adult then High Fantasy as stated on the MPG. This was Robert V.S. Redick's first novel and I think he did well here. I will continue the series. This first book convinced me that Redick has the chops to grow and become better at his craft.
Profile Image for Soo.
2,598 reviews255 followers
August 2, 2020

Michael Page did a nice job narrating the story. If my library had the other audiobooks, I'd dig into the next one but it doesn't & so #2 will have to wait until I'm in the mood to buy it. =P

Clean cut, adventure story with an interesting cast of characters. I would have loved this book as a kid.
Profile Image for Oldman_JE.
37 reviews13 followers
October 13, 2022
Mr. Redick, I apologize for letting your book sit on my shelf so long.

Your prose is masterful with nary a word out of place, ideas unfettered.
Your characters, both big and small, lend wonder and were a joy to encounter.

Thank you for this blary book. Keep writing please.
Profile Image for Anirudh .
746 reviews
February 6, 2019
I don’t think I’ve been so frustrated with a lost opportunity to this extent since I left the Thousand Names series. After reading past the midway mark, I finally realized that there is no hope for the souls on board and abandoned ship.

The book seems to have a lot of good reviews which really surprised me as this book is a mess of epic proportions. Everything that can go wrong went wrong. It’s never a good sign when you can’t think of a single reason to continue reading a book. This book should have been marked as YA in goodreads but surprisingly it is not marked so. I can’t quite wrap my head around the notion that this book was written for grownups.

Plot: Well, there is one, or several, or none depending on your philosophical preferences. There is a young boy, he is somehow important and has some well-wishers who do strange things without bothering to explain, he gets tangled in a “Secret and terrible Plot” that will threated the whole world… you get the picture. The “Secret and terrible Plot” was so confusing and ridiculous that I kept wondering what was the point all along.

World Building: This is particularly vexing as the blurb of the book promises something spectacular and the author goes nowhere near it in the book. The blurb promises us a mysterious ship, a ship that can no longer be built, something out of legend and we the readers are about to sail with it into a dangerous voyage. Instead the story ignores the setting entirely by giving no importance to the ship whatsoever. It wouldn’t have mattered if this was set on an ordinary ship or for that matter, on land. There are some occasional ship talk thrown about just to remind us that we’re on a ship and that’s it. The greatest ship sails pretty much like an ordinary ship. At no point are we given a glimpse of how the ship sails. Instead we’re given more fantastical elements like small people, talking rat, a mink mage etc etc. There is really nothing interesting in this world and what’s more astonishing is that there is really nothing holding it together. It’s there because the writer wants it to be there.

Characters: I am beginning to suspect that there is some unwritten rule that all female characters in fantasy need to be terribly written and awful. Nothing else really explains characters like Thasha. I can’t imagine what was being imagined when this character was conceived. She is a kind of nun in training and the daughter of a war hero. She is also training in the war “dance” and of course is a brilliant tactician. She is also a code language creator, a detective, has a friend mink who is a wizard from another world oh and apparently also a twelve year old girl as soon as she meets a boy. The character was so lazily put together, I wonder if she is a combination of multiple characters from different books. On the other hand, Pezel the protagonist is completely forgettable. There are several other characters but none of them leave an impression.

Narration: There are multiple PoVs in the book and some even in the form of a diary. However the writing is fairly average and nothing really stands out. One particular problem is the tone of the book as it changes often from serious to trying to be funny. Some parts and conversations often feel like they’ve been written keeping teenagers in mind.

Overall, a disastrous voyage.

P.S Seeing that none of my friends here in GR have read this yet, I kind of feel like I took one for the team
Profile Image for Wortmagie.
512 reviews77 followers
October 24, 2019

Robert V.S. Redick hat einen Master in Tropenschutz. Während seines Studiums arbeitete er in Argentinien, an der Patagonischen Küste. Elf Tage verbachte er auf Valdés, einer kleinen Halbinsel mit atemberaubender Flora und Fauna. Eines Morgens ging er allein spazieren. Es war neblig. Er sah hinaus auf den Südatlantik und plötzlich überfiel ihn die Vision eines gigantischen Schiffes, das vor seinen Augen an den Klippen zerschellte. Einige Jahre später wurde er auf die Libertad eingeladen, ein Segelschulschiff der argentinischen Kriegsmarine. An Bord erinnerte er sich an seine Vision und legte den Grundstein für seine High Fantasy – Reihe „The Chathrand Voyage“, die mit „The Red Wolf Conspiracy“ beginnt.

Sechs Jahrhunderte war die IMS Chathrand das Juwel der arqualischen Schifffahrt. Ihre gigantischen Ausmaße waren legendär, sie erlebte Kriege und Piraterie, bereiste die entlegensten Ozeane Alifros‘ und legte unzählige Seemeilen zurück. Sie war die letzte ihrer Art, ein Relikt einer vergangenen Epoche. Ihr allein gebührte es, zu der vielleicht wichtigsten diplomatischen Mission ihrer reichen Geschichte aufzubrechen: bemannt von 800 Seelen sollte sie Frieden zwischen Arqual und Mzithrin stiften. Doch an Bord gingen seltsame Dinge vor sich. Soldat_innen und Assassinen mischten sich unter die Seeleute, in den Eingeweiden des Schiffes versteckte sich das verhasste Volk der Ixchel und ein Schiffsjunge namens Pazel erlebte Fluch und Segen seiner rätselhaften Sprachtalente. Magie, Intrigen und Verschwörungen brachten sie auf ihrer bedeutenden Fahrt vom Kurs ab, bis eines Tages keine Nachrichten mehr in ihrer Heimat eintrafen. Vor der Insel Talturi, nicht weit entfernt von der Küste Mzithrins, wurde das Wrack ihres Langbootes und die Leichen der Besatzung gefunden. Ganz Arqual fragt sich: was ist mit der Chathrand geschehen? Kann das gewaltige Schiff tatsächlich verschollen sein?

Ich liebe Seefahrtgeschichten. Deshalb hatte Robert V.S. Redick mit „The Red Wolf Conspiracy“ bei mir eigentlich von Anfang an leichtes Spiel. Tatsächlich verliebte ich mich sofort in die IMS Chathrand; in meiner Fantasie ist sie eine beeindruckende Schönheit kaum vorstellbarer Dimensionen. Sie ist ein Mysterium und eine schwimmende Stadt; uralt, weitgereist und aus mittlerweile versiegten oder vergessenen Rohstoffen erbaut. Vermutlich kennt niemand alle ihrer Ecken und Winkel, weshalb sie voller Geheimnisse steckt, die sie, einer Lady angemessen, diskret bewahrt. Ich tollte in Gedanken neugierig und aufgeregt wie ein Kind über ihre sieben Decks und hatte Spaß daran, stetig Neues zu entdecken. Mein Forschergeist wurde durch das Wissen, dass die Chathrand offiziell verschwunden ist, zusätzlich angeheizt. Diese Information erhalten Leser_innen noch vor Beginn der Geschichte durch einen Zeitungsartikel. Sie bleibt im Verlauf präsent, weil Redick sich einer überraschenden Mischung von Stilmitteln bediente, um den Anschein einer Beweismittelsammlung zu erwecken. Briefe und Tagebucheinträge, die teilweise sogar kommentiert sind, ließen mich nie vergessen, dass der Verbleib der Chathrand ungeklärt ist. Ich brannte darauf, herauszufinden, was mit ihr geschehen ist und inwiefern ihr Verschwinden mit der vertrackten politischen Lage zwischen Arqual und Mzithrin zusammenhängt. Obwohl Redick die Handlung von „The Red Wolf Conspiracy“ mit dem Setting der Chathrand räumlich stark begrenzte, erschien sie mir niemals als isoliertes Kammerspiel. Es ist eindeutig, dass alles, was an Bord passiert, eine Folge seines lebhaften Designs der Welt Alifros ist. Arqual und Mzithrin sind tonangebende Nationen, die einen Konflikt austragen, in dem Intrigen und Diplomatie beinahe gleichbedeutend sind. Die heikle Friedensmission, die die Chathrand erfüllen soll und die durch mehrere Verschwörungen sabotiert wird, schlägt allerdings Wellen, die über diese beiden Akteure hinausgehen und unter anderem auch die Ixchel betreffen. Ich bin von diesen etwa 20cm winzigen Krieger_innen begeistert und kann gar nicht verstehen, wieso solche Völker nicht häufiger in der High Fantasy auftreten. Redick überzeugte mich mit vielen dieser frischen Ideen, die „The Red Wolf Conspiracy“ zu einem Selbstläufer hätten machen sollen. Unglücklicherweise entpuppte sich der Reihenauftakt hingegen als eine schwierige Lektüre. Ich kam nicht voran und habe ewig gebraucht, weil mich die seltsame Taktung der Geschichte immer wieder ausbremste. Jedes Mal, wenn der Spannungsbogen einen Höhepunkt erreichte, nahm der Autor die entscheidende(n) Figur(en) aus dem Bild. Zum Beispiel wird der Protagonist Pazel genau dann von der Chathrand verbannt, als sich die Aufdeckung einer Verschwörung anbahnt, weshalb ich die folgenden Entwicklungen nicht mehr miterlebte. Dadurch ergaben sich große Handlungssprünge, die Interessantes ausklammerten und stattdessen weniger wichtige Nebendramen fokussierten. Ich hatte Mühe, dranzubleiben und musste mich zwingen, weiterzulesen.

Grundsätzlich mochte ich alles, was mir Robert V.S. Redick in „The Red Wolf Conspiracy“ servierte. Trotz dessen empfinde ich die Geschichte bisher noch als recht unübersichtlich. Es ist nicht ganz leicht, allen inhaltlichen Verknüpfungen zu folgen. Zukünftig sollte der Autor Prioritäten setzen und sich auf das Wesentliche konzentrieren, statt ausschmückendes Beiwerk zu schreiben, das die ohnehin kniffelige Lage in Alifros zusätzlich verkompliziert. Gelingt ihm das, sollte sich das Problem mit der Taktung ganz von selbst lösen. Ich bin gewillt, ihm mit der Fortsetzung von „The Chathrand Voyage“, The Rats and the Ruling Sea, eine weitere Chance einzuräumen, denn ich glaube durchaus an das Potential der Reihe und möchte mehr von Redicks faszinierender Welt sehen. Außerdem weiß ich noch nicht, was mit der Chathrand geschehen ist und dieses Geheimnis muss ich einfach lüften. Dumm sterben ist keine Option.
Profile Image for Karen  ⚜Mess⚜.
712 reviews44 followers
June 18, 2021
75 Years Later | SpongeBob Time Card #83 - YouTube
This book was 4,229 pages long. I don't know what happened here. WONDERFUL world building, characters and story to tell. An attention grabber it's not. My mind kept wandering. When it took me 2 days to read 8 pages I knew I had to take a break.

Dear Red Wolf. I want to love you so much. I even bought the next two books and gave you 3 stars instead of 2. Stop making me sad and get better.
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Profile Image for Dianne.
6,765 reviews582 followers
November 14, 2012
THE RED WOLF CONSPIRACY by Robert Redick is a intricate fantasy revolving around a young cabin boy aboard a ship named Pavel who has the ability to 'understand' different languages. The attention to detail almost slows the story down, especially when trying to remember different kingdoms, peoples, characters, customs, and whose on who's side at what time!

The author's imagination is amazing as he weaves his tale. The twists and turns, number of characters, places and events-astounding! We have tiny little people, giants, mages, sorcerers, kings, sailors, buried treasure, underwater creatures, curses, spells...and this is just book one of a trilogy!

Through all of this, little Pavel is just trying to survive while somehow getting placed right in the middle of the tensions between two kingdoms.

If you love a good fantasy read that will take you completely out of the world as we know it, this is your book! I can only say, "Pay Attention!" This is NOT a book that can be read quickly.

This copy of The Red Wolf Conspiracy was provided by Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for ♥ Unaeve ♥ .
220 reviews40 followers
February 17, 2013
The Red Wolf Conspiracy the first book of a trilogy destined to take its place on my all time favorite shelve:)

Robert V. S. Redick has been compared to Philip Pullman, George R. R. Martin, and China Miéville, among others and indeed if you liked them - you will like him as well!

Sort synopsis:
Many years after a terrible war that shook empires, a 600-year-old ship sails for enemy lands and must deal with deadly assassins, treacherous mermaids, and monstrous slavers.

Talking animals,magic gifts,girl to rescue of an unwanted marriage,war to be stopped,race of tiny people,boy who understands all languages,dancing instructor who teaches fighting lessons,exotic foreign evil stepmother,a mystery,a missing mother and sister,a sorcerer from an other dimension ,a voyage over the see,pretty mermaids......and everything wrapped up in beautiful storytelling.... what is here not to like? The atmosphere of the book mostly reminds me of Philip Pullmans Golden Compass ,so if you read the book or saw the movie you'll know what you can expect-a grand adventure with amazing characters.I enjoyed it very much and looking forward to read the next part.

Profile Image for Jon.
833 reviews253 followers
March 22, 2010
3.5-3.75 stars

Although I didn't come to love many or any one character in this tale, I thoroughly enjoyed the story, the world building, the creatures and Pazel's gift of languages. While epic in scope, I wasn't sickened by the political intrigue and appreciated the efforts of the counter conspiracy.

Most of the action takes place on the high seas and there are some pirates, but not in the traditional sense. Following the exploits of Pazel as a 'tarboy' made the sailing jargon more palatable.

Strangely, this adventure reminded me of a space opera in scope, plot and characterization. I plan to read the next novel, conveniently available now after it's recent release in February 2010.
Profile Image for Timothy Boyd.
6,499 reviews32 followers
January 16, 2020
Wow this really surprised me. I was expecting a pretty standard fantasy novel. Boy meets girl, they come of age and fall in love while saving the world from an ancient evil....you know how it goes. While it does fit into that standard framework it is really well done. Lots of interesting characters and several subplots running behind the scenes. Nice well conceived world that has interactive peoples and kingdoms not just backdrops. There were even a few plot and idea surprises sprinkled throughout. There are 3 books to go and I am looking forward to seeing where the writer takes the story and characters. Very recommended
Profile Image for Bernhard.
84 reviews10 followers
October 12, 2021
A unique fantasy adventure brimming with ideas.
Profile Image for Ron.
Author 1 book135 followers
August 28, 2018
“Death is the moment when everything loses value except the truth.”

Competent fantasy series opener. Ensemble cast of introduces themselves by their choices. Engaging people and plot in an adventure road trip by water on the greatest ship in the world. The concept of waking is well-developed, and a fresh way to introduce sentient beings in “lesser” animals.

“No animal, no man, no thousand year old sage is perfectly awake. True waking is … emerging from one cage into a larger, brighter, less lonely cage. It is a task never done.”

Everything that can go wrong does, which is half the fun. Coincidence and good luck pervade, which is the other half. Has a young adult quality which is welcome. Manages a satisfying end for this story while drawing the reader toward the next.

“Truth, goodness and a loving heart--these things only shine brighter as the darkness around them spreads.”

Quibbles: while Redick gets a lot of ship talk right, he occasionally errs. Old sailing ships don’t sag, they hog back. The titular Red Wolf plays little part in the story before the last quarter, and then (but that’s a spoiler).

“We are never long the masters of the violence we unleash. In the end it always masters us.”
Profile Image for Joel.
424 reviews
March 7, 2019
Did Not Finish

The premise of the book, a giant sailing ship, made me excited to try it as it brought a new and interesting idea to the fantasy genre. As well as the fact that this was primarily a maritime-fantasy. It has sat on my to-read shelf for quite some time, and I just recently had the opportunity to try the audiobook.

What a disappointment. The plot of the story crawls at a snail's pace, and any time something interesting starts to happen, the author dumps a bunch of back story that brings everything to a thundering halt once again. There was tons of mystery, plots, characters, and intrigue with barely any reasons given to why. I'm sure it would have built up to a nice pay off, but the plodding plot made it boring and frustrating.

The one thing I can say is that I liked the character of Pazel and the Crawlies were awesome to read about. To bad the book couldn't have just been about them.


This was my first time listening to Michael Page. He was a solid narrator, and I wouldn't mind running into his work again in the future. Without his narration, I probably wouldn't have gotten as far with this book as I did.
Profile Image for Sarah Connell.
Author 4 books8 followers
February 12, 2023
Didn't want this to end! Trying to decide which storyline outdid the others. One of the few 'cast of characters' books that shows equal favor to even the most side character -- looking at you, Felthrup. A great mix of politics, magic and sheer piracy (the nautical kind) so I got my fix on every score.
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