My knowledge of Jane Lindskold consists, perhaps unfairly, in large part of the fact that she was somehow associated with Roger Zelazny in his later years. She finished two books incomplete at his death (Lord Demon and Donnerjack) neither among his best. At some point later, to give her a fair shot, I picked up one of her own books, The Pipes of Orpheus, but wasn’t much more impressed. I’m not sure, therefore, why I picked up Through Wolf’s Eyes. Perhaps it was free somewhere, and I simply spotted the familiar name and thought I should give her another chance.
After reading all 450 pages (600, by Amazon’s count), I’m … still not very impressed. The concept – girl raised by wolves, telepathic communication with animals – isn’t much of a stretch; it’s well trodden ground. Lindskold buttresses it with a broadly mentioned larger world of somehow superior, smarter versions of some animals – our hero is raised by special wolves – but then does very little with it. In this book, at least. While the book is built for a sequel, I was surprised just now to learn that there are eight books in the series. Maybe the others delve into the larger mysteries. I hope so, but won’t be checking.
This first book, however, is a political, genealogical story through and through. There are half a dozen noble houses, each with a couple of names, and all contending to inherit the throne. There’s a war, and half a dozen similar houses on the other side – except that we learn about them in a long infodump almost at the end of the book.
The magic is more convenient than systematic, and there are a number of shortcuts. The wise wolves seem to have very detailed and sophisticated knowledge of human hierarchies and values. There are a fair number of plot points that move the story forward, but just aren’t very realistic.
If the setting wasn’t new, the characters were at least well developed and engaging. Lindskold tries to have it both ways with gender roles – women are tough and have important positions, but also need protecting and somehow fit into a traditional structure. I not only found the politics a bit hard to follow, I was just never able to develop an interest in it – the whole complex social plot that took up so many pages was by far the least interesting part of the book. Because the sequel seemingly follows right on with yet more politics, there’s no chance I’ll read more in the series.
Lindskold’s writing is smooth, but beyond that, I couldn’t find much in this to inspire my interest. If you love fantasy politics, it may work for you, but it’s a book I won’t remember.