THE TIGER AND THE WOLF by ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY
HB, 590 pages, Tor
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Imagine a world where everone is a shape-shifter, where people can shift skins as easily as thought. Deer, Boar, Horse, Crocodile. And, battling for supremacy at the icy Crown of the World, the Tiger and the Wolf.
Maniye is the daughter of two cultures, her mixed heritage from her Tiger mother and her Wolf father battling for supremacy within her and threatening to tear her fragile human form apart in the process. When she rescues an elderly priest of the Serpent from sacrifice within the Jaws of the Wolf, she is forced to flee her tribe, and her actions lead her into conflict with both her warring souls, and the tribes that inhabit this wasteland. Her allies are uncertain, and for the first time in her life Maniye is alone.
Maniye is a remarkable heroine, conflicted and doubting, but determined and courageous at the same time, facing a conflict within her that she knows could drive her insane. The world is rich with detail, with the clash of cultures though through at every step, from the trade-minded people of the Horse to the savage (Komodo) dragon-pirates of the far south – the interplay between enslaved Dragon Venater and his captor Asmander, a man torn between his loyalty to an unloving father and his desire to do the right thing, is a delight to read.
It’s a novel of shifting perspectives as well as shifting skins, of uncertain alliances and conflicted loyalties, of the fragile bonds between tribe and freedom that can only be stretched so far.
This is a remarkable and unusual coming-of-age novel, the first in a series. I don’t know how Tchaikovsky keeps pulling these out of the bag (three excellent 600-odd page novels in different genres in 18 months, and probably more we don’t know about), but I’m mighty glad he keeps them coming.
Disclaimer – I recieved this book for free in exchange for an honest review.