ISBN: 978-1- 61614-243-9
Morlock Ambrosius is many things, rogue, maker (sorcerer), adventurer, and in The Wolf Age, he basically becomes part of a Werewolf pack. This is the third novel James Enge has written featuring Morlock Ambrosius; however, it can be read without having read the previous Morlock novels since Enge, like the best of his sword and sorcery predecessors, provides enough detail about our hero over the course of the novel thus inviting new readers into his world. Smart, that.
Morlock encounters werewolves near their city of Wuruyaaria and is imprisoned as an outsider and interloper since he attempted to help villagers under attack. Enge captures the confined nature of the prison very well, I could really get a sense of the dankness and the bleak aura surrounding the opening of the novel. Within the prison walls, he befriends other werewolves, including a werewolf named Rokhlenu, who have been incarcerated and eventually leads a revolt to escape the prison.
Although the werewolves continue to plague Morlock, they are far from his only problems. A pantheon of cryptic gods, known as The Strange Gods, is using the maker as a pawn in their games against each other. The Strange Gods are seen only in bits and pieces throughout the novel, and their presence is felt throughout.
One of the strongest elements of the novel is the werewolf society itself. The details come through in subtle ways and not through large info dumps about the back history of the werewolves. Rather, the dual speech patterns of the werewolves Sunspeech for the day when they aren’t in their wolf form and Moonspeech whilst in wolf form.
Enge continues to elaborate on the character of Morlock, showing the depth of his abilities. He is a broken man with a spike in his head and he eventually contracts the “ghost disease” but still, Morlock manages to lead the escape, rally the werewolf populace against their oppressors, lead the building of flying equipment for the werewolves, and contend with the Strange Gods.
I enjoyed this novel more than the first Morlock novel-length adventure (Blood of Ambrose), but I still had some problems with the book. Even though Morlock was the protagonist, I still felt somewhat disconnected from him and thought he was off-page a bit too much considering he is the main character. The narrative pull in the early portion of the novel when Morlock was imprisoned was very strong, but once Morlock escaped the pull weakened.
On the whole; however, The Wolf Age is an enjoyable novel and one that can easily be read on its own merits. The cover by Dominic Harman may be one of the best and most perfect covers from a book I’ve recently read – it sums up the content, it could be scene out of the book and the contrast in color is just superb. Enge’s humor, through much of the dialogue, was entertaining and a highlight for the novel and his continued shaping of Morlock’s world is coming across quite well.
Coincidentally, The Wolf Age is Pyr’s 100th title and should be duly congratulated.
© 2011 Rob H. Bedford