Posts Tagged ‘juliet marillier’

Foxmask (Juliet Marillier)

This is the sequel to Wolfskin – to understand the relationships that underlay the characters, it would certainly be best to have read Wolfskin first, although this is a standalone story, not part two of two (or three), which is certainly refreshing.  I purchased this at the same time as Wolfskin, so I wasn’t then aware that I’d love that book so much.  By the time I got to reading Foxmask, though, I had reasonably high hopes for anything from Marillier.

Although I enjoyed Foxmask, it wasn’t quite as fantastic as Wolfskin.  The basic story has a lot of promise, mostly as a result of the earlier book – Somerled, the antagonist from Wolfskin, was so clearly the villain of the piece, but also clearly had the potential for redemption.  Here, we can find out whether he did manage to redeem himself – but Marillier made the sensible decision to place the story a little later in time, so that although the story answers that question, it’s not actually the central focus of the story.  That means that Foxmask is more of a standalone story than a direct sequel, which is a benefit, in my opinion.

Although Thorvald, Sam, and Creidhe are interesting characters, I was never as drawn to them as the Wolfskin characters – and the antagonist of Foxmask is far more on the black side of grey than Somerled ever was, which makes him a lot less interesting.  You can see how he might have made the decisions that he did, but they are still more evil.

The weakest part of the book was the character Keeper.  For some reason, I was never interested or attracted to this character, and that made it harder to understand the relationships that he formed with the other characters.  The strongest part was the development of Thorvald’s character, particularly the leadership development with the other men of the island.

The magic in Foxmask is a little more overt than that of Wolfskin, which also detracts slightly from the story.  It’s also a little darker in some ways (although there’s probably less death, the reader knows the characters that die or suffer better, so they are more intense).

Overall, however, this is still an excellent novel.  If this was the first Marillier novel I read, I’m not sure I would be so eager to seek out more of her work – probably I would just hope to remember to buy one next time I see it, rather than actively looking for it, but I absolutely recommend reading it, especially since it wraps up the Wolfskin story a little more.

Wolfskin (Juliet Marillier)

The main reason that I bought Wolfskin was because I noticed that Marillier was a New Zealander (or at least was born here, although she lives in Australia now), and there’s not really very many NZ sci-fi/fantasy authors or books, and I’d like to support the locals as much as possible.  (As an aside, my favourite NZ book is Beak of the Moon, by Philip Temple, also of Dunedin).

So I wasn’t really expecting that much – it wasn’t quite charity, but I would have been happy with a pretty mediocre story.  However, I really loved this book.  I’m not sure why so many fantasy authors feel the need to set their stories in/around the UK, but it’s so common that it didn’t really bother me here.

The characters in Wolfskin were excellently developed, and a pleasure to get to know.  The antagonist was nicely grey – although you really could despise what he did, you could also understand his motivation for the most part.  The magic was pleasingly subtle, and the battles sufficiently short.

One minor note that bothered me (minor spoiler alert): early in the book, a girl is attacked, and the attacker isn’t identified.  The implication is that it’s the antagonist, Somerled.  The way the scenes were written, it seemed likely to me that it would turn out to not have been (directly) Somerled at all, but rather the girl’s friend, led to a bad decision by listening to Somerled (so he was at fault, but only indirectly).  Even later in the story, when the friend is re-encountered, nothing in the events seemed to contradict this theory.  However, the book ends without coming back to it, so I suppose that we’re meant to just believe that it was Somerled who did the attack.  I think it would have suited Somerled’s character, and improved the story, if we had discovered that it wasn’t directly his fault.

The story ends well, with the story nicely resolved, and although there’s clearly a hook left for a sequel, it’s subtle enough that the ending is satisfying and yet the hook doesn’t seem like the only purpose for that element is the sequel.

Overall I highly recommend reading Wolfskin, and intend to keep an eye out for anything else that Marillier produces.