REVIEW: Wolf Who Rules by Wen Spencer
Dear Ms. Spencer:
I think you must be a genius. I also think that Tinker, who is a genius, is a bit too much of a Mary Sue. Sure, she makes mistakes, but everybody wants her. She can do everything. She talks to dragons, defeats dragons, kills the oni, saves Pittsburgh, rebuilds gates, bridges the gap between humans and elves, and so on. This wasn’t so obvious in Tinker but becomes overt in Wolf Who Rules.
The other major flaw in your story is that you must have read Tinker in order to understand what was going on in Wolf Who Rules. There were many times in which you referenced fantasy elements in your world that really could only have been known if you had a clear recollection of Tinker. This was the major downfall. About 4 chapters in, I put WWR down and had to go and re-read Tinker.
The plot was fine. WWR had to request assistance from the other clains to work against the oni. By asking for help, WWR weakend his position as Viceroy of the Westernlands. He would have to give up land and part of his “kingdom” to the Stone Clan who came to provide additional defense against the oni. Tinker is questioning her relationship with Windwolf. She is wondering if they are truly married and is having a hard time assimilating into elf culture. And she is trying to solve the problem at Turtle Creek that she created in Tinker.
If the story had focused around the plot, it would been a much better book. Instead, you have days in which you talk about Windwolf negotiating with the Stone Clan but you don’t show any of the political manuevering. Further, very little action is taken by Windwolf other than to engage in the negotiations of how the land will be divided with the Stone Clan. Aren’t the Westernlands in danger from the oni? Shouldn’t you all be doing something instead of having treaty talks?
Tinker, meanwhile, is having dreams. Tinker can’t have regular dreams. Her dreams are recreations of two iconoclastic fantasy art pieces: Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz. Having two of them be the basis for Tinker’s storyline said that you gave little effort or imagination to this point (and I know you are blessed with tremendous imagination). Why couldn’t you simply stick to one or why didn’t you think of your own allegorical dreams as you did in the first book?
Tinker is also having problems resisting Pony. Apparently WWR will be monogamous as long as that is what Tinker wants. But in the elf world, it is common to take lovers from the sekasha even if you are a mated pair. I hate this plot device. Screams late Anita Blake to me and a big Mary Sue give away. This opens the door for Tinker to have many lovers because that is how it is done within elf society. And added NOTHING to the story. Whatever.
Overall, Wolf Who Rules is really only a book for Tinker fans. The plot was all over the place, the heroine was too good to be true (not to mention TSTL in places) and the story was confusing requiring a re-read of Tinker in order for the sequel to make any sense. D+.
Personally, I feel that you are very mistaken in your assumptions and understanding of this book. I read WWR about a year after I read Tinker, I had no problems understanding or keeping up with the plot.
What you see as superfulos and extra in the plot, such as Tinker and Pony, is really very important. You are viewing this matter as someone from the outside looking into the book. However, if you really get into the book you would understand the underlying plot. The story tells this because Tinker is unlikely to take lovers apart from WWR. The point is her conflict, on one hand she is falling in love with Pony, which is perfectly rational and expected; on the other hand she doesn’t understand the culture and sees what she is doing as wrong. All this leads up to her breaking down and her close connection to Pony.
Also, in my humble opinon the dreams are stronger and leave more of an impact when talking about something we all know. The two books, the wizard of oz, and Alice in wonderland, lend a feel to the dreams that we, the reader, can connect with. When an author takes clues from another book first of all that makes you want to read it to know the contects; secondly, you understand it better. Mixing the two books may confuse Tinker and as much confuse us but it makes for better reading.
Of course the whole issue with WWR negotiating with the Stone Clan is obviously going to be a big focus. The fact that WWR was willing to do this shows a lot. Of course as you may have realized that just because the author doesn’t say that people weren’t searching does not mean that while the negotiations were going on that no one continued with the search. Certain things do not have to be said, like the sun shown in the sky on Monday, etc.
On the whole I would give this book an A. I would also add that this book is not only for Tinker fans but for anyone who enjoys a good scifi/fantasy book.