The Tiger and the Wolf, and The Bear and the Serpent by Adrian Tchaikovsky

I’ve built up a backlog of 7 books to be reviewed; which is spectacularly crap even for me.  I’m therefore cheating and reviewing these two together.  I started the second more or less the moment I finished the first.

Anyone who’s known me since 2016 knows how excited I was by Adrian’s earlier book, Guns of the Dawn.  It was easily the best book I read that year.  Because even “things I definitely need to read next” can keep getting bumped down the pile here, it’s taken me this long to start on this series.

Set in a world where people can all shift into their clan’s animal form, this series is partly a coming of age story of Maniye, a wolf/tiger hybrid (something very, very rare) who is wanted by neither parent.  She is told that she has to choose one, which she resents and sets out to find a third way.  This is set against a backdrop of a world where the religious leaders of all the clans know that some great calamity is brewing and the ensuing political upheaval.  The first book is concentrated mainly in the north of the world, which is a bronze age analogue society (with only some of the wolves having iron).  A prince (along with a pirate, a priest and a hyena woman) from the more urban south have come north to hire mercenaries.  The priest (of the Serpent clan) is captured by the Wolf tribe and freed by Maniye, and the two parties come together.  There is a big climax at the annual religious gathering of all the clans.

The second book follows the main characters as they return to the southern world of the Crocodile, Serpent and Dragon people.  The king has just died and civil war is about to erupt between the twin claimants to the throne.  Meanwhile, at the top of the world most of the Seal people are wiped out The Bear have invited people from all the northern clans to join together to defend against the doom which they all know is coming, with one of their number travelling to find out what happened to the Seal, and what he finds is truly horrific.  Many ends are tied up, but it ends on a cliffhanger.

I recently purchased book 3 but I’m going to take a short break before I read it.

I liked these books very much.  The world building is absolutely top notch.  It was great fun finding out the characteristics of the various clans. (Some expected, some not so much).  Women can be hunters and leaders (except in the bird clans, who are all creepy and I’m desperate to find out why they don’t like women) – one of the twin Crocodile throne claimants is a woman and nobody is contesting her claim because she’s a woman.  Highly recommended.

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