The Tiger & the Wolf by Adrian Tchaikovsky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Thanks goes to Netgalley!
Really a 3.5
This is my second Tchaikovsky, and it certainly won't be my last, but I'm struck by just how different his finely crafted SF is to his Fantasy. And I'm not saying that his Fantasy is poor. Not by a long shot.
But I think I might have been the wrong audience.
Iron Age tribes dominated by a whole world of humans who can shapeshift isn't a bad concept, mind you, and having a dual nature of Tiger and Wolf is a great conflict, especially since the two Great Tribes had not long ago had a war and the enmity sits heavy upon both.
All in all, the underlying story is good, focusing upon the themes of freedom, whether from a warring internal nature or the needs and expectations and failures of one's family. It's solid.
Where I have a problem with the book is its pacing. A lot of setup occurs at the beginning, with a whole lot of nothing going on and very little to keep it interesting. And then when things do start to move and our MC moves out with the help of a wise serpent, all things are fine in the world. Plenty of conflict, danger, tension, and personal growth. My second problem may be entirely a personal one, but there was a hell of a lot of fighting going on, and it tends to bore me unless there's either serious character development coming along for the ride, some seriously snappy dialog, or a MAJOR plot development, and then, it ought to be to the point and/or lyrically beautiful for me to stand up and applaud.
If you are one of those readers that loves tons and tons to battles featuring shapeshifters of tons of breeds, be it wolves, tigers, alligators, bears, horses, and a partridge in a pear tree, then ignore everything else I've written here. THIS IS A BOOK YOU'LL LOVE.
Hell, even I think it would have been a fantastic book that I'd have loved if it had come with some serious omissions (less battle filler), quicker real plot developments (less substitution of battle for the sensation of progress), or even giving us the end of the novel as the middle, and give us the REAL conflict and story progression from the point of the epilogue.
I loved what finally happened. It felt right and good and quite satisfying. I just have to wonder if this book is indicative of his other Fantasy titles, if he's trying something new, or if this was just a slip.
Either way, it was still a pretty solid read, it just had elements I didn't care for.
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