The Way of the Wolf, by E. E. Knight

the-way-of-the-wolf-by-e-e-knightGenre: Horror/Vampires
Publisher: iPub iWrite
Published: 2001
Reviewer Rating: four star rating
Book Review by Lynn Nicole Louis

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The Way of the Wolf is an eBook, available in electronic format or as a POD (print on demand, for those of you not familiar with the lingo). What this usually means is that the author shopped the book around and when it didn’t get picked up by a traditional publishing company, went off to one of the many e-publishers and got it in ‘print’ through that avenue. Books published via this method are often considered to be a subset of vanity press, the last resort of an author who’s been unable to get their book accepted by a traditional house.

Not all books rejected by traditional publishers deserve to be rejected, but I can guarantee that not all the books rejected deserve to see print. Pick up a hundred vanity press books, and maybe–maybe–one or two will actually be worth the time it takes to read them. The Internet has altered this somewhat. There are companies out there that have some level of quality check before the ‘publish’ an eBook. Others will publish anything sent to them, but allow their readers to offer reviews and feedback, a word of mouth network that identifies the gems among the gravel.

So it was with some trepidation that I first cracked open The Way of the Wolf. This trepidation rapidly gave way to enjoyment. It was obvious to me within the first few pages that Knight knew how to write, but could he write a book?

The background: Some fifty years in the future, Earth has been invaded by the Kurians, vampire lords who deploy their Reapers to feed on the auras of humans and channel that energy back to them. A Kurian induced plague has reduced the human population by 90 percent, and most of the rest are held within the iron grip of the Kurians, kept as a food source.

There are some free humans though, and those that fight against the invaders. David Valentine is one. He is a Wolf, a special soldier created by the Lifeweavers, enemies of the Kurians and possessed of strange powers of their own. The book follows Valentine as he leaves the relative safety of his home to become a Wolf and fully engage in the resistance against the Kurian Order. Valentine is a complex an interesting character, mixing innocence with a cold-hearted willingness to kill. Knight developed Valentine into realistic, believable character, with strengths and weaknesses and a consistency of motivation. He didn’t do as good a job with the rest of the cast, but he did well enough, and it’s Valentine’s story after all.

Knight brought the setting (a future, apocalyptic United States) to vivid life. If he hasn’t actually traveled the country extensively, he’s got a damn good set of travel books. His facility with description is a major strength. The setting drew me in, put me there, and was a major factor in the book coming ‘alive’. His world is well-constructed and holds together in a believable fashion.

The plot isn’t so much the arc of a single story, but more a series of connected events in Valentine’s life. It wouldn’t be too hard to break this book into stand alone shorts. Depending on the reader, that can be either a strength or a weakness. It’s hard to build a high level of overall tension in this fashion, since, while the events Knight covers are interesting, they don’t carry over drama and tension from one to another. Each ‘segment’ is more like its own story, a story that contributes to, but isn’t necessarily an integral element of, the overall resolution of the book.

I don’t have much time to read, but what time I did have this book filled quite pleasurably. More than once I found myself reading past where I’d intended, carried along by the story. The last 60 or so pages were especially compelling, although I had a quibble with what I considered to be a deus ex machina element.

The overall verdict? This is a good book and a very promising beginning that showcases the skills of what I think will be an emerging talent. The Way of the Wolf is better than many of the books I read put out by ‘real’ publishers. If Knight shopped it around, the traditional publishers (or agents he may have tried) made a mistake not picking this one up.

One positive aspect of its eBook format: the price: you can pick up the eBook version for a measly $2.00 or so (you have to read it off your screen or print it out), but at that price it’s more than a bargain — it’s a steal.

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