Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wolfskin by Juliet Marillier

Series: Saga of the Light Isles Book 1
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Copyright: 2002
Pages: 707
Book Source: Own purchase

All Eyvind has ever wanted is to become one of the greatest Viking warriors - a Wolfskin. His friend Somerled, with whom he has sworn a blood oath of lifelong loyalty, secretly desires a very different path.

A world away, Nessa, niece of King Engus of the Folk, is learning the ways of the mysteries. Her people live in peace and harmony, until a voyage of discovery, led by Somerled's much respected brother, Ulf, brings a group of settlers to Nessa's homeland. Though their arrival is friendly, Nessa feels a shadow has been cast over the Folk ... book cover

Wolfskin is a powerful historical fantasy of epic proportions set against a backdrop of the Viking world and the colonisation of the Scottish islands of Orkney. The combination of history, folklore, & imagination is utterly captivating.

Wolfskin follows the destinies of three central characters - the Viking warrior Eyvind, would-be king Somerled and Priestess Nessa. Eyvind has grown up with the dream of becoming a Wolkskin warrior of Thor, like his brother. He is set the task of befriending the strange boy Somerled and although Eyvind often fears Somerled's cruel and unpredictable nature, circumstances draw the boys together in friendship and they eventually swear their lifelong brotherhood with a blood bond. Their journey to the Light Isles reveals long denied truths and sets the scene for a page-turning read.

Eyvind and Nessa are wonderfully drawn characters, sensitively portrayed & I fell in love with both of them. The love story between the two is a relatively slow dance but beautiful just the same. Somerled is the character you love to hate, although his portrayal is also done in such a way that it is possible to see his vulnerability.

Marillier's connection to the natural world is a beautiful one, nothing is contrived or exaggerated. The imagery is so vivid I felt like I'd been transported to the Light Isles & immersed in the character and very soul of these islands.

Was not this a realm of endless, freezing darkness, visited by hellish winds, pounded by nightmare seas, a stark, empty place where scarcely a tree dared lift its branches from the earth to soften the bleak landscape?
Then spring would come ...

Here the sky held more colours than there were blades of grass on the hillsides; here the sea was endlessly changing, moody, bountiful, capricious, a shawl of mystery wrapping these fair islands with its fluid touch. Each stone bore its own story, each shell its own pattern, each flower its enchantment.
page 178

This is definitely a tale of contrasts, blossoming love & brutal battle scenes alternately bleak then mesmerising. Wolfskin examines the value in loyalty, the pain of betrayal, and the strength required to do what is right at the expense of love. I'm looking forward to continuing the story with Foxmask

Visit Juliet Marillier's website to find out more

This month on The Eclectic Reader you could win Fire by Kristen Cashore OR Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick OR Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. Check this blog post for details. International entrants welcome.


  1. I don't think I have ever read anything about Vikings. It sounds like a wonderful book.

  2. It was a good book, I remember reading it one summer :)

  3. Wow! SOunds good! I hope I can get my hand son this one soon!

  4. I love history books(novels), this one really sound good. I learned a little bit about the Vikings last year, so this really sounds good. :)

  5. What a lovely review! I'm a huge Marillier and you have a treat in store for you with FOXMASK. I loved it.

  6. I have this one, but haven't read it yet. Thanks for moving it up the TBR pile with a great review.

  7. I've read Marillier's YA fantasy (if this is indeed the same Juliet?), and had no idea she also did Viking historical fiction. The book sounds interesting - nice review!

  8. This sounds great, but the 707 pages scares me away.

  9. Holy cow! This was a chunkster. :) Sounds like a beautiful tale!

  10. I like this author and the whole story sounds like a fantastic series in the making....a book with that many pages is one that I would want to try to read next summer when I have unlimited reading time :)

  11. Juliet Marillier is one of my favorite authors! I have loved all of her books, Wolfskin included. This was a fantastic review!

  12. This is a FANTASTIC book. It's the one that introduced me to Juliet Marillier, and she's now my favourite author. I prefer WOLFSKIN to FOXMASK, but they're both really good books, and I loved finding out what happens to the characters in the next book.

    You might like DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST by Juliet Marillier - it's based on the fairytale of The Six Swan Brothers, and is also a really good book. As are all of hers. :)

  13. This looks quite interesting, and the cover is gorgeous. :)

  14. The names threw me off at first but the fact that it combines history and folklore intrigues me!

  15. Viv ~ I really did love this one. I've now read a couple of viking saga stories and I like the time period.

    B ~ have you read the sequel, Foxmask?

    Veens ~ hope you do get the chance to read it, let me know what you think.

    Nina ~ this is a wonderful combination of history, folklore and love.

    Angiegirl ~ ooh I'm excited, so glad you enjoyed Foxmask, I'm looking forward to it.

    Elena ~ please let me know when you've read it, I'd love to know what you thought.

    Celi.a ~ yes it's the same Marillier. So you've read Cybele's Secret & Wildwood Dancing? What did you think, I have them on my bookshelf waiting. She has a couple of adult fantasy series and this historical fantasy.

    Stacybuckeye ~ I got a surprise when I checked the page count, lol. Mine is the small paperback but I assume the 500+ page version on goodreads is the trade paperback size. I didnt find it a long, hard read in the slightest.

  16. J.Kaye ~ I would never have thought that I was reading anything that lengthy so it was obviously great to keep me enthralled :-)

    Staci ~ I actually found it quite a quick read but it's definitely one you can savour!

    Tome Traveller ~ I have the rest of Marillier's books on my bookshelf so I'm glad to hear they are all good!!

    Ruth ~ I bought all of Marillier's books after reading just this one lol but I'm yet to start on any others. I've got her YA fantasy as well so might give them a go next.

    Laughing Stars ~ the cover is beautiful isn't it!

    Ladytink ~ it's a really wonderful combination, hope you get the chance to read this one!

  17. Great review girl! I like epic tales and it's a time period I haven't read before. This sounds like it's right up my alley. I think I seen this author's name before also. I'll have to check out her site.


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