Jacin was born damned. He was born to be a tool of the gods and destined to go insane, like every other Untouchable. Yet the unwavering love of his mother and twin brother sustain him until he is taken into the care of Asai, a man who intends to use Jacin as a weapon for his own designs.
When Malick is given the task of drawing Jacin away from Asai and into the fold of his small, mercenary band, he finds himself fascinated by the fierce assassin. Jacin has suffered and been in agony for years, clinging to his sanity by the barest of threads. Malick can ease the man’s pain, but in payment he’ll exact at heavy price from the already fragile Jacin. Trapped between the machinations of men and gods, Jacin must decide who he can trust and hope that decision doesn’t have disastrous consequences.
Wolf Ascendent is the first in the Wolf’s Own series by Carole Cummings. This is reissue of a previously published book. I’ve been a fan of Cummings for years, but this author’s books take time and patience on the part of the reader. Wolf Ascendant is no different. It’s a long book and it made me work to enjoy it, but enjoy I did. It’s a Manga-esque story, though I don’t think you have to any history with Manga to enjoy it.
Wolf Ascendant is a meaty book when it comes to size. There’s a lot of story to consume and to make sense of and occasionally it feels like too much. I think about a fourth of the overall plot could have been trimmed down without losing anything integral. There’s quite a bit of bouncing back and forth along multiple points in time that added to a somewhat chaotic storyline. There’s a fair amount of world building and, while the author does a great job of avoiding information dumping, there are times it still seems a bit overwhelming.
Jacin, also called Fen, and Malick are really the beating heart of the book. Jacin has known nothing but pain for most of his life. He’s always been a tool in a war that he doesn’t fully understand. And while Malick offers a measure of salvation, he too is bound to the will of his gods. There’s affection, of a kind, between them, but neither fully trusts the other and this results in an unusual kind of relationship. You can’t really call it a romance, but there’s something powerful and profound between Malick and Jacin and it drives the rest of the story. There are also plenty of strong supporting characters and they are each part of the wider plot puzzle and they never feel extraneous or purposeless.
Wolf Ascendant is one of those books that demands a measure of effort on the part of its readers, but you’ll find yourself rewarded with complex characters and a deeply engaging story. It’s overly long and a bit dense at times, but if you’re a fan of books with depth and substance, you won’t be disappointed.