Wild Magic was this novel’s tame predecessor. And in this case, you can’t beat the original.
Daine returns in Wolf Speaker to save the wolf pack she grew up with. The leaders of a human settlement nearby are driving the wolves out of their home, and Daine, as a voice for the animals, must find a way to give the animals their home back. But it’s more than just greed behind the plights of the royalty and the mages that rule there…
This being the first book that’s a continuation of a series I’ve read being reviewed on this blog, I have a lot of different things to talk about here.
This book didn’t build a lot off of the previous book, Wild Magic. The connections between books one and two felt like an afterthought, with characters previously crucial in the start of the series only appearing, or even being mentioned, at the climax. While realistic, it wasn’t done well in terms of narrative. The only things that felt truly connected were Daine’s magic, the divine badger, and Daine’s anger for Stormwings. This makes these facts only forgiven if the entire series was binged, which it was not. I read the first book at least eight months ago. Despite a majority of the plot from that book not being remembered, I read this book feeling like it was a second beginning to the series. Right from chapter one the link between the two stories felt disjointed.
That being said, the story was good standing alone. These new characters, although many, felt very real and with a strong variety. The magic being built on the world was splendid, as did the building of the monarchy. There was additionally a real, solid villain who didn’t have lines straight out of a Batman TV episode. There wasn’t a character I hated amongst that book at all! They were all very well built with their motivations, too. However, many of the less iconic characters did blend together a lot. Many of the characters talked the same, especially the animals. There were too many wolves to work out who was who aside from two of them.
Whether this is because of my greater knowledge in the craft of writing or not, Wolf Speaker’s use of language and words seemed significantly weaker than in Wild Magic. Odd bits of passive voice, grammar errors, and lines I had to reread came up. This made the reading a lot slower, alongside some strong pacing issues towards the start. It didn’t help that these were lengthy chapters that could have easily been broken down further. The endings of the chapters made me more relieved than wanting more, in all honesty.
However, the second half of the plot was definitely engaging. All writers seems to know how to write a climax effectively in my opinion. Some very topical political and environmental implications built up the plot well. And it didn’t get old, the story still relevant over 15 years on! This was especially well implemented with characters like Maura, oblivious to the harms being done on the nature and learning to care for it and see things a different way. That being said, a few characters felt like they were being swayed a bit too easily. Still, the ending was satisfying even if some of the threads were still left flying in the wind. That will probably lead into book 3, which I’ll be reading later this year.
Wolf Speaker gets a score of 3.5/5. You can’t beat the original if you barely acknowledge it, even when your plot and cast are so good.