I just finished the third book of the Morlock Ambrosius series, titled The Wolf Way. Written by James Enge, it is another step in the direction of becoming a legend, much like the main character himself.
Morlock Ambrosius is wandering through the north, which has been abandoned apparently as the people struggle to survive. It is an indeterminate period after his final fight with Merlin at the end of This Crooked Way, and he no longer holds Merlin captive. It is imperative that Morlock flee civilization, for he knows that when the conflict between himself and Merlin occurs, many innocents could die.
However, a werewolf raiding party stumbles upon Morlock and captures him after a vicious fight. They realize he is a “seer” and impale something into his head to prevent him from using his Sight, which helps him see things for what they really are. Hampered and practically blind, he is thrown in a prison designed for werewolves. It is in here that the werewolves discover that Morlock was a bad man to cross after he kills a werewolf.
This book is a great story. I loved the plot, the action sequences and the character relations. It is always heartwarming to see just how the disfigured Morlock Ambrosius interacts with others, how his loyalty to his friends forces him to make the tough decisions. I love the world that the author builds and expands upon, and the subplots which enhance the story. Enge is masterful in his prose, and his style is original and invigorating.
However, Enge is falling into one of the three fatal traps, as I’ve come to label it over the years. That trap, the dreaded “Trap 2”, will be explained fully in a moment.
Trap 1 is relatively old, but of high importance in fantasy. It involves the simple tale of boy meets girls, boy loses girl, boy rescues girl from evil wizard. It has worked well in the past but today, most writers don’t know how to pull it off with any semblance of originality. No, the author avoids this one.
Trap 3 is the “too much world building” trap, where so much detail is put into the world that surrounds the characters that the reader forgets that there are characters in the book to begin with. The author avoids this one as well, melding his world beautifully together to work in synch with his creations. No, Enge avoids this trap like the plague.
Trap 2 is one I’ve griped about oftentimes in the past. It is when a fantasy author (or a science fiction author) starts to create names which jar you out of the reader’s trance. Too often I started dropping names in this book due to this, when the similarity of the names blend important characters together. I couldn’t keep track of the names of minor and main characters due to too many vowels and not enough consonants. It became frustrating and annoying, and more than once I found myself staring at my wall wondering “Couldn’t they have easier names, like ‘Shaggy’ or ‘Fang’ or something?”. The desire to have all their names in their native tongue, then translated at the end of the book, really annoyed me. I wish the author could have found a different way to help the reader learn the names of the various werewolves.
All in all, it’s good. Not quite as good as Blood of Ambrose, but easily on par with This Crooked Way. If you’ve become a fan of Enge’s work, you should definitely pick this book up. I enjoyed it, and any fantasy fan will enjoy reading more tales of Morlock Ambrosius as well.
-Reviewed by Jason