The Time of the Wolf by James Wilde


Rating:  ★★★

This is a historical fiction retelling of Hereward, a hero of medieval England during the time of William the Bastard.

It’s a good story told in a poorly constructed novel. I have so many problems with it and yet I read it through to the end, even though it took two weeks, so I’m giving it three stars.

My first issue is Hereward himself. It’s clear the author adores him as a historical figure, but that’s a lot of the problem. He’s almost never referred to as anything other than “warrior”. We are shown time and again that he is a warrior, but I didn’t need to also be told he was a warrior in every other sentence. I was beat senselessly over the head with this information.  It felt like the author didn’t trust his readers to see that Hereward was a warrior so he felt the need to keep reminding us.  My enjoyment of this novel would have improved ten fold if 90% of the instances of the word warrior had been removed.

There are a lot of scenes that are laughably ludicrous. The first that comes to mind is the scene where Hereward fights naked in the snow. He uses his clothing to tie a man up to a tree or a rock or something. Apparently this task requires literally all of his clothes. Then he slowly, silently kills four or five men lurking around the area. While it’s snowing.

Just… why? It’s so stupid. What did he need to be naked for? Magic in some rope. That would have been more believable. I’m supposed to believe a naked man is a deadly killer and not shivering violently in the snow? There’s another scene where he rises naked out of an icy pool of blood that’s constantly referred to. That was more believable but I felt like it was put in for “awe” value rather than serving any real purpose.

Then there’s Alric. His only real purpose in the novel is to remind you what a bad ass Hereward is and how his soul needs saving. *eye roll*

Then there’s the actual plot of the novel. It sort of starts out as a strong revenge plot, but the revenge portion is artificially resolved 50% in, SPOILER: because Hereward just decides to walk away from it. Umm.. okay.  We still follow what’s going on with the characters Hereward wants revenge on, so it feels like he’ll be back to take it some day.

But then 75% in, the revenge plot resolves itself, without Hereward even being present, and you are forced to wonder why you’re still reading. It was a very odd place to end. So everything that happens to Hereward while the plot resolves itself is basically filler, and then the conclusion comes and you feel like you’re ready to stop reading or pick up the next book, but Hereward has to be roped back into it somehow so it continues. Furthermore his motivations for doing what he does makes literally no sense.

The writing was decent, but Holy Similes Batman! The beginning of the book is absolutely loaded with them. Like every other sentence. I found myself re-reading overly flowery and overly complex sentences just to try and figure out what the author was trying to say.

So the beginning of the book I didn’t love because of Hereward’s hero worship, and the end I didn’t love because of the bad plot structure. But the action was good and I did like some of the characters, Acha, Vadir and Judith were great. Redwald is probably the best characterized. He felt more real than any of them and his motivations make the most sense even if they are a little simple.

I haven’t decided yet whether I will continue the series. I will probably check out a few other books written about this time period before I decide.