Wizards, shapeshifters and Howlas, Oh My! These are just three of the different type of characters that we see in Patricia Briggs’ book Wolfsbane, a sequel to Masques, her first published work. Originally Ms. Briggs planned to have this book published years ago, she wrote it shortly after the first book but due to publishing issues and another series she had started, this was put on a shelf and was just edited and released. To fully appreciate this book, I would recommend that you read Masques, as it really lays the foundation for this story and introduces the two main characters, their friendship and their fledgling love.
Aralorn is a fantastic heroine, she’s a half human/half shapeshifter, who left her family home, Lambshold, and went to work for the spymaster of Sianim. Her natural born shapeshifting talents make her unique as a spy; she can shift into a mouse, change her facial and physical appearance and even become an ice lynx. Aralorn is also physically and mentally strong, honest and full of character. She hasn’t been home in 10 years but has been summoned because her father, Henrick, the Lyon of Lambshold, has died.
Wolf or Cain ae’Magi, is the Aralorn’s traveling companion and the hero of Wolfsbane. He’s an incredibly strong wizard who was forced to practice black magic by his father. He’s an interesting hero because he’s damaged- he carries scars from his attempt on his own life. Wolf is completely devoted to Aralon. The only problem is he doesn't have much experience with love and affection. He’s uncomfortable expressing his emotions and likes to spend time alone. He is unsure of himself and his control over his magic. Wolf has to deal with mixed a mixed heritage as well as both human and green magic. Needless to say, he is a confused but powerful man. Wolf and Aralorn have to be careful about the part they played in a senior wizard's death. Wolf's identity needs to be kept secret as well due to the fact that the wizard was his father, Geoffrey ae'Magi.
The scenes between Aralorn and Wolf are fantastic, the emotions they are experiencing are heartfelt and very genuine. Both Aralorn and Wolf realize that Henrick the Lyon is not dead, he’s under a black magic spell and if he’s not freed from it- he will die but they have some time to pinpoint what spell was used on him and figure out how to remove it. They also realize that the spell may have been put on Henrick as a way to draw either Aralorn or Wolf or both of them to their possible death.
The secondary characters are pivotal to this story, from Halven, Aralorn’s shapeshifter uncle to Gerem, one of Aralorn’s 13 siblings whose involvement in his father’s circumstances is suspect and the antagonist in this story, Nevyn, Aralorn’s brother in law and a Darranian wizard- who’s even more damaged than Wolf. The author takes us through several twists and turns in the plot and we are introduced to additional family members and some new creatures - Howlas, magical beasts whose eyes can trap a person’s mind. We also meet the priestess for the death goddess Riddan, who’s temple Henrick and his son’s have just rebuilt, who plays a pivotal role in Aralorn and Wolf’s relationship.
A recurring theme throughout this book is that magic and how it’s being used in this society is changing and that there are many things in play, we learn that there is a creature responsible for much of the dark magic being practiced but we don’t get a lot of information about this character who is referred to as the “dreamer”. When Aralorn and Wolf discover who is behind Henrick’s spell, things get complicated and it becomes a race to free Henrick and do it without anyone else having to die. I was very pleased with how this story concluded and I hope that the author decides to continue developing this world and the characters in it.
For the last ten years, shapeshifting mercenary Aralorn has led a dangerous existence — a far cry from her noble upbringing. Now she must return home under the most unfortunate circumstances. Her father, the Lyon of Lambshold, has passed away. But when Aralorn and her companion Wolf arrive, the combination of their magic uncovers something wonderful yet alarming — her father is not actually dead, but only appears so. Yet a dark mist is also very much alive within him…
The Lyon of Lambshold has been ensorcelled by the ae’Magi, who’s using him as a conduit to finally destroy Aralorn and Wolf. With her father as the pawn, can Aralorn overcome this mysterious sorcery? Or will she finally fall to the blackest of magic, losing not only her one true companion but also her life…?