The Series: the Wolf Tower Sequence
Titles: Wolf Tower
Author: Tanith Lee
Themes: love, family, fate, magic, science, deception, perseverance, adventure, running away, betrayal
The Wolf Tower Plot: Orphan-slave Claidi knows only the mindless rituals and cruelties of the House and the Garden, where the ruling families wallow in lavish extravagance. Then a golden stranger promises freedom if she will journey with him through the savage Waste.
Mad tribes and strange cities, enemies and friends where she least expects them, above all the Wolf Tower that broods over the grim stone city of her destiny; nothing - and no one - is as it seems.
If she is to survive, Claidi must learn fast - hone her wits, sharpen her instinct for danger...
Freedom demands that she confront the Law - once and for all...
The Wolf Star Plot: Orphan-slave Claidi has fought for freedom and won. Now she looks forward to a life of happiness with the wandering Hulta people.
But once again for Claidi, nothing and no-one is as it seems. Secrets menace her; a bewildering land of giant flowers and savage animals; the awesome Rise, a great cliff topped by a mansion ruled by a strange, arrogant, enigmatic Prince. At dusk each night, the rising of the flaming Wolf Star.
Again, Claidi has only her wits and courage as weapons and her diary as her only friend.
The Wolf Queen Plot: Leaving the Rise, Claidi anticipates a joyful reunion with her beloved Argul.
Instead, her return to the Hulta people meets only mistrust, fury and betrayal. Determined to unravel the lies and deceit which haunt her past and threaten her future, she journeys northward. But in the strange cities - and even stranger people - she finds, Claidi sees only more mystery and deeper secrets.
The Wolf Wing Plot: Free at last, Claidi and Argul can begin their new life together. Yet, nagged by her past, Claidi feels compelled to return to her birthplace, the House, to rescue her fellow slaves.
Again, nothing is as it seems. The shadow of the mysterious scientist-magician Ustareth still spreads over them, drawing them relentlessly into a quest beyond their wildest dreams.
My Thoughts on the Whole Series: This is a series aimed at Young Adults, so as such it is a bit exaggerated and simplified with a heavy emphasis on love interests and betrayals (just seems like common traits in YA series to me).
I had a hard time with the love story, as I increasingly do, because it seems like the male character/love interest is so perfect and the protagonist is so very flawed and really not lovable in the slightest...yet the love interest goes above and beyond and adores them and trusts them even when all evidence points to something else...I don't know. Maybe I'm too cynical. But I feel like when it becomes so one-sided like this it seems more like a lonely girl's fantasy than a realistic romance. I think I am being too picky.
As usual, Lee's worldbuilding is fun and I continued reading simply to find out more about Claidi's realm. I enjoyed the fact that the world was large and heterogeneous, there was a variety of peoples, societies, beliefs, and technologies in different far-flung regions-it made this new world more realistic and complex. It also made the significant amount of travel in the story more interesting because Claidi could describe new surroundings and peoples. About 90% of the series is spent in travel, and as it is written in a diary format, it does make for better storytelling.
The constant betrayal inside betrayal topped with another betrayal within layers of secrets and revelations did get a bit old by the second book however. Claidi is a slave who is secretly a princess who isn't actually a princess but a slave being set up as a scapegoat who really was a princess after all if you go back far enough into history....really? And the love interest, technologies, side characters all have similar convoluted stories. Of course the story leading up to the "real truth" of Ustareth" was just as obnoxious-though it was more legitimate since she was actually a mysterious chameleon type character. She reminded me quite a bit of the protagonist in The Birthgrave trilogy actually.
It's almost as if the author wasn't quite sure where it was going until the very last novel. Or that she was just throwing new twists on the page when she lacked inspiration. I love Tanith Lee. I enjoyed this series. But I was tired of it all long before finishing the story.
Recommendation: If it sounds interesting to you at all, pick it up! If you hate the first book you certainly don't have to read the other three. They were light, quick, and easy reads that were enjoyable.
Similar Reads: The Unicorn Series by Tanith Lee, Sister Light, Sister Dark by Jane Yolen, The Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce
Lee, Tanith. Wolf Tower. New York: Puffin, 2001.
Lee, Tanith. Wolf Star. New York: Puffin, 2002.
Lee, Tanith. Wolf Queen. New York: Firebird, 2003.
Lee, Tanith. Wolf Wing. New York: Puffin, 2004.