10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Kelly (Fantasy Literature)
- Published on Amazon.com
Lilly is one of a litter of werewolf children being raised by the Knights of the Teutonic Order in 13th century Prusa (later Prussia). The wolfbreed, as they are called, are subjected to horrifying abuses and trained to become brutal weapons of war. Their purpose: to help the Order massacre Prussia's remaining pagan strongholds.
A theological debate rages between the Order and the Church regarding the nature of the wolfbreed. Are they simply animals, soulless but trainable and possibly useful? Or, are they minions of Satan? The one possibility no one considers: human.
When Lilly escapes from her master in the town of Johnsburg, she is taken in by a farm family and treated as an ordinary young woman. Their kindness breaches Lilly's defenses, and she begins to look at herself through new eyes and to question her upbringing. Her peaceful time with them, however, is not to last. The Church and the Order are hunting her. The horrors within Lilly's mind may be even harder to escape. Can she forgive herself for the violence in her past, and would those who love her be able to forgive her if they knew everything she'd done?
This is a gritty, violent novel, yet there are themes of love and redemption that are often absent from the grittier sort of fantasy. S.A. Swann shows us the worst that humanity can do, but also the best. The surrounding horrors make the moments of beauty all the more effective.
The story is told through several alternating third-person points of view. The different point-of-view sections often overlap in time, allowing the reader to see the same event from different perspectives. This device works well in Wolfbreed, and all of the point-of-view characters have distinct voices.
I highly recommend this moving and tightly-plotted historical fantasy. It won't be for everyone; the gore, rape, and child abuse may be off-putting to some. I should also mention that many of the Christian characters are pretty unsavory, which also might not sit well with some readers. These aspects of the story didn't bother me personally -- I felt that they were realistic in the gritty medieval setting -- but your mileage may vary. As for me, I loved Wolfbreed. As soon as I finished it, I found myself recommending it to friends, and I'd say that's a pretty good sign!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
A girl barely out of her teens is found bloody and naked by Uldolf, a one-armed young man who has been hunting in the forest. He lives with his adopted parents and a sister who took him in when he was just a child after the massacre that left his biological family dead. Uldolf barely survived and refuses to remember what happened. The strange girl doesn't seem to speak and is frightened. Uldolf won't allow her to die and takes her home where her mother will care for her.
The abused girl is Lily, a werewolf who has been held captive for years under the Knights of the Teutonic Order. Her master, Johannsburg, Erhard von Stendal, a knight of this order has made her into a killing machine where he has brainwashed her to thinking she kills for the good of god. He has killed her family and used torture to keep her in line. Lily has killed many and while her master is away, she is able to escape. She is very sacred but goes with Uldolf because he seems so kind. What Uldolf doesn't know is that Lily and he have met before when they were young children and that she is the reason he became an orphan.
As Lily recovers, Uldolf and his parents try to figure out what the best course of action with Lily. She is a very strange girl who doesn't seem comfortable with people, but is willing to help with household chores and keep an eye on Hilde, Uldolf's younger sister. Also Lily has become attached to Uldolf and wants to show him how much she has come to love him. Erhard is searching for Lily and will do whatever means necessary to find her.
Because Lily is being hunted, anyone she comes in contact with is in danger. Lily has no where to go and wants to stay with Uldolf. But when he finds out who Lily is and the terror she has brought back into his life, he must either forgive her or turn her over to her master who wants to destroy her once and for all.
Wolfbreed is a gritty and violent dark novel that deals with the aspects of religion in very scary ways. S.A. Swann has written a world in the thirteen century that is ruled by powerful and deranged men who use evil and torture to get what they want. No one is safe from these persecutions and so many innocent lives are lost. Lily, the poor half human, half shift changing wolf is so abused and scarred that she has two sides to her that cannot be controlled. One side is fragile and wants to be safe and loved. The other side is a vicious one that makes Lily lash out. This side tries to take over and it gets to a point where Lily can't stop it.
Uldolf is a wonderful character full of life and optimism. Even though his childhood was destroyed, he is able to overcome because of the husband and wife who took him in and treat him as their own son. This family unit becomes so important to this tale as well as how they treat and protect Lily.
Wolfbreed is all about redemption and forgiveness. S.A. Swann shows the best and the worst in people and the paths those take to either fight for good or turn to darkness to achieve great power. This story is for anyone who enjoys paranormals with a touch of romance and an action packed plot where the end is very much a mystery.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I really enjoyed this book. You know when a book makes you tear up it is great. I usually read books based on what I read in reviews by romantic times. Luckily I hadn't read the reviews in the scifi section or this one would have been looked over (i only read 4 and above reviews generally). I saw this book in the sci-fi section yesterday, and read it last night. There is no way this is a 3 star book. It is very well written, has a different type of plot and characters from most werewolf books and very real moral and ethical conundrums despite the fantastic setting. This is well worth the cover price and I highly recommend it. 5 stars.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
This interesting tale of a werewolf girl in medieval Prussia is paced in such a way that putting the book down after the first fifty pages or so becomes very difficult. The book's plot is concise yet its philosophical undertones are rich. What does it mean to be 'human'? This is a central question in the book because we see so-called humans, even 'godly' humans, who exhibit little but savagery and lack all semblance of empathy. On the other hand there are the werewolves, creatures who are branded as monsters simply for being different. The Christian knights aren't interested in understanding them, but merely using them for their own violent and ultimately secular ends (cloaked in disingenuous Christian rhetoric).
The book can just as easily be viewed as a cautionary tale on the misuse of religion. As a Christian I found the acts of many of the so-called Christian knights in this book to be deplorable, but it did not in any way detract from the book. If you've read any scholarship on the medieval period, particularly Manchester's A World Lit Only by Fire, then you'll be aware of the unfortunate misuse of religion, and particularly Christianity, as a dangerous force of ignorance and superstition during the medieval period.
Lilly and Udolf are excellently drawn characters who come across as strong yet vulnerable and at once likable. The idea of knowing truly what it means to forgive tests both characters and plays a central role in the storyline. One character has to learn what it is to forgive oneself while another character has to learn to overcome visceral fear and hatred too. The drama is all the more poignant because these characters' lives are thrown into tragic situations not of their own making, and even as we wonder whether these characters will make the morally ideal choices, we understand, given the flawed worlds in which they live, that they may prove to be as imperfect as their environment.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
In Wolfbreed, Swann uses 13th century Prussia as his backdrop for a really great werewolf tale. Historically, Teutonic knights from the Crusades had been invited into the country to help Christianize the Prussian pagans (I looked this up, I am not an expert on 13th century European history). In the book, a knight of the Order of the Hospital of St. Mary of the Germans in Jerusalem discovers his camp has been attacked, all of the others brutally murdered. He defeats the werewolf responsible, only to discover a litter of her cubs. Intent on raising them as weapons for the Church, the young werewolves are tortured and brainwashed as training for the next eighteen years. It is 1239 when Lilly finally escapes her master. But these knights are not going to give up their captor so easily. They will hunt her to the ends of the earth if needed. She is saved by a family who take her in and care for her when she is wounded. But soon enough, the Order tracks Lilly to her hiding place. Whether her newfound friends will stick by her once they learn the truth about her is the question.
I don't think I can really do this book justice. First, I don't want to give too much away: Lilly's not your typical werewolf (at least not the ones that are usually portrayed these days), and her back story is really great. Plus, it's one that runs the length of the book and is integral to the revelations that come at the end.
Frankly, Swann's historical/paranormal read deserves much more attention, in my humble opinion. I'd highly recommend checking it out if you're looking for something different, if you enjoy the fantastical with a hint of true history, or if you're simply looking for a great story. Wolfbreed is all of these things and I can't wait to find out where it goes next with Wolf's Cross (which jumps to 1343).