Stay tuned below for a review and excerpt of The Emperor’s Wolves!
Author: Michelle Sagara
Series: Wolves of Elantra #1
Released: October 13th, 2020
Received: Blog Tour
Warnings: Child death, drowning
I received a copy of The Emperor’s Wolves in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Emperor’s Wolves, by Michelle Sagara, is the first novel in the Wolves of Elantra series. However, fans of Sagara will certainly recognize the world and characters within. This series is a direct spin-off of the Chronicles of Elantra series, and focuses on one of my favorite characters of all time.
Severn Handred grew up in the fiefs. He proved his willingness to do anything and everything to protect somebody he loved. Now, he’s trying to find a path through life, while carrying the guilt of his actions.
His skills, determination, and personality make him a strong candidate for the Wolves. They, like the Hawks, are an organization that upholds the law in Elantra. However, they are considered to be a darker branch, and are frequently (and not entirely incorrectly) considered to be the assassins for the Emperor.
It doesn’t take long before Severn, a probationary Wolf, finds himself in a case that should quickly have gone over his head. However, Severn has always been a quiet and confident character, and this tale shows how he grew into the character we all know him as.
“To live as a Wolf, you must be true to the principles you have chosen to uphold. Those principles cannot be rocked or shaken by anger, by grief; they cannot be ignored when convenient. The act you commit, you commit for a reason, and that certainty is what hold you above the abyss.”
First, I just have to tell you this; when I learned that Michelle Sagara was writing a novel about Severn, I just about lost my mind. He’s my favorite character, not just of the series, but arguably in general. So getting a novel (and now, what appears to be a series) heavily focused on him is basically a dream come true.
To say that I had high expectations going into The Emperor’s Wolves would be a massive understatement. And yet, this novel blew all of those hopes, expectations, and dreams out of the water. It was an exciting read, portraying the backstory of a beloved and frequently understated character.
I feel like this is the journey many of us fans have been waiting to hear. We know so much about Kaylin and her past (obviously), and thus the past of her allies. Except for Severn. His backstory only ever came up in context of Kaylin, and thus ended when they two weren’t near each other.
This novel begins to fill in those gaps. Honestly, I had expected the novel to cover the entire time period that they were separated. It does not – it is very much the beginning of a new series, and Sagara isn’t afraid to provide the same level of detail to Severn’s series.
A fact that I adored. Give me another novel, another ten novels, surrounding Severn, and I guarantee you that I will read every single one of them. I’m not sure what I loved more about this novel – the chance to learn more about his history, his personality, or how he became so confident as a wolf.
“If I don’t know the laws, I won’t know when I’m breaking them.”
“Use common sense.”
“I grew up in the fiefs.”
I should mention that The Emperor’s Wolves surprised me on more than one occasion. It’s a good surprise, don’t worry. I wasn’t expecting to recognize so many characters that made appearances in this story. That alone made it clear how well Severn had integrated himself into this new life, all while avoiding being spotted by Kaylin.
Another surprising element? Severn isn’t the only perspective provided in this novel. I suppose that shouldn’t be as surprising, since it is about the Wolves, and as such, any number of those characters could easily steal the focus.
All things considered, I adored The Emperor’s Wolves and the insight it provided. I cannot wait to see what adventure Severn and his new allies get into next. Likewise, I’m still looking forward to seeing what is happening in the present, with Kaylin and everyone else. However, Cast in Conflict isn’t due out until 2021, which leaves plenty of time to reread The Emperor’s Wolves!
ELLUVIAN OF DANARRE DID NOT LIKE THRONE rooms.
For much of his life, throne rooms and audience chambers had been a grueling exercise in humiliation; humiliation was always the outcome when one had no power. His presence in a throne room was meant to emphasize that utter lack of power. He was called. He came. He stood—or knelt—at the foot of the platform that led to the raised throne.
There he had remained, while the disappointment of his lord made itself known.
There were significant differences between this throne room, this audience chamber, and the throne room of his youth. An act of war had given him a freedom he had never before possessed.
And the actor in that action occupied the current throne as a force of nature, uneasily caged by masks of civility and mundane governance. Elluvian had been announced; he had been given permission—or an order—to approach the Imperial Presence. His steps across the runner that covered worked stone were as loud as his breathing.
Before him sat the Eternal Emperor, Dariandaros of the Ebon Flight. Neither name had been used by any of the Emperor’s subjects for centuries. Elluvian, however, remembered. The only freedom he had ever known had occurred because of war. At the end of the third war, the Dragon Emperor had demanded oaths of allegiance from each and every Barrani adult who had survived it and intended to live within the boundaries of the Empire.
Elluvian had offered his willingly. He had offered it without reservation. Had the Emperor demanded Elluvian swear a blood oath, a binding oath, he would have done so without hesitation. The Emperor did not demand his True Name. Anything else, he could live with. Nonbinding oaths were just words.
“Rise,” the Emperor said. The undercurrents of his voice filled the vaulted ceilings above with a distinctly draconic rumble. Elluvian obeyed, meeting the Emperor’s gaze for the first time; the Dragon’s eyes were orange, but the orange was tinged with gold.
No discussion between Emperor and subject was private. The Imperial guard and the Imperial aides were omnipresent; an Imperial secretary or three were positioned by the throne to take notes where notes were necessary.
“Approach the throne.”
Elluvian was aware that of all the Barrani—each forced to offer an oath of allegiance to the Emperor directly—only a handful were allowed to approach the throne. It was not considered, by most of his kin, an honor. Were any of those disapproving kin to be present, they would have obeyed regardless. Just as Elluvian did.
The Imperial guards stepped back.
“You look peaked, old friend,” the Emperor said, when the guards were standing as far from the Emperor as they were willing to go.
“You did not summon me here to discuss my health.”
“Ah, no. But I have been informed that I lack certain social graces, and it seems incumbent on me to practice.”
Elluvian raised a brow. His eyes were blue; Barrani blue denoted many things. At the moment, he was annoyed. Annoyed and tired.
“Very well. The Halls of Law seem to be having some minor difficulty.” When Elluvian failed to reply, the Emperor continued. “In particular, and of interest to you, the difficulty involves the Wolves.” Of course it did. The Halls of Law were divided into three distinct divisions: the Hawks, the Swords, and the Wolves. The only division of relevance to Elluvian was the Wolves.
Elluvian exhaled. “Again.”
“Indeed.” The Emperor’s eyes remained orange; the orange, however, did not darken toward red, the color of Dragon anger.
Elluvian bowed his head for one long moment. His eyes, he knew, were now the blue of anger and frustration. In a life considered, by the youthful Barrani and Dragon kin, long, failure was not the worst thing to happen to him. But consistent failure remained humiliating—and no Barrani wished their failures dissected by Dragons. He struggled to contain emotion, to submerge it.
In this, too, he failed.
“I have never understood why you wish to create this division of mortal Wolves. We have power structures developed over a longer stretch of time, and we have not descended to barbarism or savagery. Those who have power rule those who do not.”
“That is what the animals do. Those with power rule those with less. We are not animals.”
Elluvian’s mood was dark enough, the sting of failure dragging it down in a spiral that had no good end. Humans, who comprised the vast majority of mortals within the Empire, were one step up from animals, with their unchanging, fixed eye colors, their ability to propagate, their short, inconsequential lives.
“I do not understand the Empire you are attempting to build. I have never understood it, and the centuries I have spent observing it have not surrendered answers.” The admission of ignorance was costly.
For a man who professed not to want to rule by power, his form of communication was questionable. He commanded, and those who had survived the wars and sworn personal loyalty to the Emperor—most Barrani, given the sparsity of Dragons by that time—obeyed.
Elluvian had been summoned. The summons was, in theory, an invitation, but Elluvian was not naive. The oath of service had weight and meaning to both the Emperor who had demanded it and the man who had offered that vow.
Mortals were not a threat to either the Barrani or the Dragons, but many of the Imperial systems of governance—the Emperor’s word—were most concerned with those very mortals. The Emperor had created the Halls of Law, with Swords and Hawks to police the mortals who vastly outnumbered those who rose above time and age. He had also created the Wolves.
“No,” the Emperor replied.
Excerpted from The Emperor’s Wolves by Michelle Sagara, Copyright © 2020 by Michelle Sagara Published by MIRA Books
Book Details/Buying Information:
THE EMPEROR’S WOLVES
Author: Michelle Sagara
Publication Date: 10/13/20
Publisher: MIRA Books