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The Wolf Hunt, Gillian Bradshaw

2010/04/03

Gillian Bradshaw is known for her beautifully detailed historical fiction, and this swerve into fantasy is no exception. Set in 12th century France, the book focuses on a strong female character, Marie Penthieve, who has been ordered to a convent after refusing to marry according to the royal decree. After being an attempt to flee and being attacked by outlaws, Marie is rescued by Tiarnan, a knight of Duke Hoel, who offers her temporary shelter.

Marie finds herself caught up in the snarls of courtly life, including the spoiled and beautiful Eline, to whom Tiarnan is engaged; Alain, who is hopelessly in love with Eline; and Tiher, Alain’s older cousin, who is always getting him out of trouble. Shortly after the marriage of Tiarnan and Eline, he goes missing on a hunting trip, and Eline, after a swift mourning period, hastily remarries Alain, much to the dismay of Marie and Tiher, who both cared deeply for Tiarnan. Meanwhile, a tame wolf has been disturbing the village, and is eventually captured by Duke Hoel to be kept as his pet. As Marie and Tiher continue to investigate their suspicions regarding Eline and Alain’s relationship, the reader is already aware of what has happened to Tiarnan, but is left wondering what exactly and how the characters will discover the truth.

This was the first of Bradshaw’s works that I read, and remains my favourite. It is well written, grounded in historical detail, and addresses issues of courtly and village life. The characters are well-developed and provoke a wide spectrum of emotions in the reader. This is one of the best werewolf novels I have read, and I would recommend it to readers who are willing to immerse themselves in the historical details for a rewarding read.

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