Literature: The Last Werewolf
The Last Werewolf
trilogy (sometimes alternatively called The Bloodlines Trilogy
) is written by contemporary horror/fantasy author Glen Duncan, who was previously best known for his 2003 novel I, Lucifer
, in which Satan was the protagonist.
Books in the series are:
- The Last Werewolf (2011)
- Talulla Rising (2012)
- By Blood We Live (2014)
The Last Werewolf and its sequels provide examples of:
- Arc Words: Fuckkilleat.
- All Love Is Unrequited: One of the reasons Harley stayed with Jake for so long was because he was in love with him, although Jake never reciprocated.
- Cloquet and Jacqueline. It's pretty clear that they were lovers in the not-too-distant past, but Jacqueline proves herself entirely willing to ditch him the second a better offer comes along.
- A more complex example between Remshi and Justine. It's clear that Remshi truly loves her and is actually quite distressed at the thought of leaving her for Talulla/Vali in order to fulfill his prophecy. He even attempts to choose her over Talulla (though this doesn't work, as following her ends up leading him back to Talulla anyway). However, their relationship remains unconsummated, and Justine certainly never seems quite convinced that her love is requited.
- Anyone Can Die: Book 1 ends with the death of Jake, the original narrator.
- Book 3 kills off several major characters from the first two, namely Cloquet, Trish and Fergus.
- Apocalyptic Log: The Last Werewolf starts out as Jake's diary telling of his "countdown to suicide", after he learns on the opening page that the only other werewolf in existence has been hunted down and killed. In response to the news, Jake decides to take his life the day before the next full moon, before WOCOP can catch up and do it for him. This would also cause an apocalypse on a grander scale, since it would mark the extinction of the entire werewolf species. His plans change when he meets Talulla, however. The book is still an Apocalyptic Log for Jake, as he dies hours after writing the last diary entry and Talulla takes over for the final chapters and sequel.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Jake plans to commit suicide before the WOCOP Hunters catch up with him.
- Bi the Way: Jake and Talulla are both predominantly heterosexual, but both enjoy same-sex encounters on occasion. Hinted at with most of the other werewolves as well, particularly Madeline. In fact it's a fairly safe bet that most characters fall into this - this is a Glen Duncan novel, after all.
- Break the Badass: Walker in Talulla Rising.
- Bury Your Gays: Harley, Jake's gay familiar, gets gruesomely Stuffed into the Fridge fairly early on in The Last Werewolf.
- Camp Gay: Harley.
- Camp Straight: Cloquet.
- Characterisation Marches On: Both Cloquet and Madeline become far more three-dimensional in Talulla Rising than they were in The Last Werewolf, supposedly because Talulla takes over from Jake as narrator and she likes and understands them better, allowing her to actively contradict the earlier portrayal of them when it suits. It's a pretty neat way to expand their roles and promote them from secondary characters to main cast.
- Cool Old Guy: Harley, by the time the reader meets him in The Last Werewolf. Let's not forget that he's managed to keep a werewolf alive in secret, single-handed, for around fifty years.
- Also Jake himself. He still looks like a young man but he's over 150 years old at the beginning of the first book.
- Corrupt Church: The Catholic Church (and a number of other Judeo-Christian bodies in collaboration or competition with them) are organising a response to the threat posed by werewolves and vampires. However, it's clear that this has very little to do with saving lives (they're shown willing to sacrifice innocents in great numbers if there's some benefit for their cause) and everything to do with gaining power through largely-fabricated "proof" that they are the one true faith.
- Covers Always Spoil: The cover, title and blurb to Talulla Rising basically give away the entire plot of The Last Werewolf.
- Decoy Protagonist: Jake himself - turns out he's not the last werewolf, and it's Talulla who's actually of vital importance to Remshi's prophecy and what comes after.
- Destructive Romance: Jake's relationship with his wife is passionate and devoted as few love affairs are... until he's bitten by a werewolf. Their relationship quickly devolves into this afterwards, culminating in him killing and eating her (and their unborn child) a month later, during his first transformation.
- Eye Scream: Talulla manages to protect herself against a would-be rapist by stabbing an eyeliner pencil right through his eye. And then a few moments later she gouges the other one.
- First Episode Spoiler: Talulla is the titular Last Werewolf, not Jake. And it's impossible to read any promotional material for Talulla Rising or By Blood We Live without this trope coming in to effect.
- Fur Against Fang: A relatively rare example taking the werewolves' point of view.
- By Blood We Live alternates between the werewolves' and vampires' POVs, and charts the history of the feud between the two species, revealing that they were given Pavlovian training to hate one another by prejudiced elders and that overcoming their aversion and mixing their blood can potentially cure the vampires' reaction to sunlight and the werewolves' reaction to silver.
- By the end of Book 3, therefore, it seems that fur and fang are preparing to team up against the humans who intend to drive them to extinction.
- The Ghost: Talulla's childhood best friend Lauren is a near-constant presence in her head, and memories of Lauren's actions and reactions often inform Talulla's behaviour. However, she never appears in the books, and there's no indication of where she is or what she's doing by this point, especially since Talulla's reminiscences all seem to be from childhood or adolescence. It's implied she's still out there somewhere, but why Talulla never contacts her in adulthood (apparently even before becoming a werewolf) is never addressed.
- Talulla's mother is a literal example, since she's been dead several years when the series begins. Nevertheless, her influence on Talulla - like Lauren's - is significant. Talulla likes to imagine her mother and Jake sharing a drink and a laugh in the "Afterlife Casino".
- Averted with Talulla's father, who makes a brief one-scene appearance at the end of Talulla Rising.
- Heel-Face Turn: Cloquet, when he switches his allegiance from Jacqueline to Talulla. The Grey and Grey Morality of the situation is Lampshaded by the titular narrator in Talulla Rising - the function he performs for both women is essentially the same, both feed into his addiction to being controlled by powerful women, and if anything his actions to help Talulla are even more morally unsavory than those he carried out for Jacqueline.
- Hero Antagonist: Averted with WOCOP in the first two books and the Militi Christi in the third. Despite the fact that there werewolves and vampires are indeed super-powered killers who are claiming (often innocent) human lives at an alarming rate, it's clear that the humans who are hunting them are just as depraved in their own ways.
- For example: the Catholic priest who heads up the division of the Militi Christi who capture Talulla and ZoŽ in By Blood We Live decides to feed innocent humans to the werewolves to sate their hunger before filming them refusing to harm a nun, which he then plans to broadcast as "proof" that the church holds the cure to lycanthropic hunger. To say nothing of the fact that he was using a kidnapped three-year-old to ensure her mother's compliance in the plan.
- At the very end of the book, a TV interviewer points out that the church's raids on werewolf packs and vampire nests have conveniently distracted the public from a recently surfaced child abuse scandal.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Talulla sees Madeline this way in the second book, claiming that Jake's portrayal of her as a Dumb Blonde Gold Digger type in book one was probably due to his desire to keep their relationship professional and avoid an emotional attachment.
- I Have Your Wife: Konstantinov's reason for helping Talulla is that his wife has been kidnapped along with one of Talulla's twins.
- Improbable Weapon User: Talulla manages to use an eyeliner pencil to fend off a rapist.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Cloquet before his Heel-Face Turn. He tries to murder Jake twice before switching sides from the vampires to the werewolves, and Jake still ends up grudgingly feeling quite sorry for him, mainly because he is so pathetically ineffectual.
- Walker calls back to this attitude in book two by regarding Cloquet as a Bumbling Sidekick when he fails to prevent a series of kidnappings, referring to him as "Clouseau" and asking Talulla why she doesn't ditch him for a better familiar. Talulla chastises him, pointing out that Cloquet actually is far more competent as a carer than he is as an assassin.
- Les Yay: Between Talulla and Madeline in Talulla Rising, although since their attraction to each other is explicit it's really more of a Ship Tease.
- Flashbacks to Talulla's youth imply very strongly that there was a (probably) one-sided attraction to her best friend Lauren, as well.
- The Men in Black: WOCOP (The World Organisation for the Control of Occult Phenomena). In reality, they're in the pay of the vampires and only very rarely go after the odd renegade, and instead almost exclusively hunt werewolves.
- Mama Bear: Talulla to Lorcan and ZoŽ, despite her initial indifference to them. Although Mama Wolf would be far more appropriate.
- Multi-Ethnic Name: Talulla Mary Apollonia Demetriou, courtesy of her Irish mother and Greek father.
- Our Vampires Are Different: By Blood We Live reveals the very specific needs of Duncan's vampires: they must drain their victim to death or risk their own lives when feeding, but must also disengage before their victim's final heartbeat or the same hazard will occur. They also need to take a life once every three nights to ensure peak health, but can last eight or nine days without feeding if necessary. Feeding more than once every three days risks death by "overdose". They are functionally immortal (except for fire, beheading, sunlight and overdose) but the majority become bored or overwhelmed with life and choose suicide after 1000 years or so. They retain the physical appearance of whatever their age was when they were turned.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: Duncan's werewolves seem to fall on the "more man-like" end of the scale based on their own descriptions of themselves when transformed - except scaled up to almost double their human size, so five-foot-something Vali becomes nine feet tall when transformed. They also must kill and eat a human being every full moon, and according to Jake, they must feed on innocents occasionally; trying to target their kills to "bad" people (murderers, rapists, and so on) only works for a few months at a time. They have a life-span of around 400 years, and retain the physical appearance of whatever age they were when they turned.
- Pair the Spares: Cloquet and Madeline, in a set-up very deliberately engineered by Talulla.
- Pretty Boy: Cloquet is described as looking like a male model, to the point of being a ridiculously feminine caricature of one. It's probably worth noting, though, that he's only described this way in Jake's narration, and his descriptions of a number of secondary characters are later dismissed by Talulla as unreliable.
- Prison Rape: Walker is raped repeatedly by his guards after being captured by Murdoch, the intention being to Break the Badass in the worst way possible.
- Murdoch tries to have another guard do the same thing to Talulla after she is re-captured, but she manages to keep the guy at bay long enough to transform and kill him.
- Prophecy Twist: Remshi's prophecy that he'll join the blood of the werewolf is interpreted by Talulla - and the reader, probably - that they'll have a child together who will start a vampire/werewolf hybrid race. While the two do eventually hook up (Talulla even Lampshades the idea that she might be pregnant again), the immediate product of "the joining of the bloodlines" is that Talulla becomes resistant to silver.
- Rape as Backstory: As a child, Justine was repeatedly sexually abused by two men. Not only was her mother aware of this, she was actually in the room when it happened.
- Romantic False Lead: Talulla Rising ends with Talulla hooking up semi-monogamously with Walker, but she admits to herself that he's likely to become this to her. For one thing, she acknowledges that he's a poor substitute for Jake. For another, she's suspicious that she and Marco/Remshi are destined to become the werewolf/vampire couple mentioned in the prophecy, who will join the two bloodlines together.
- Sacrificial Lion: Jake, therefore making this a possible case of Decoy Protagonist too.
- Someone to Remember Him By: Jake, the trilogy's original protagonist, dies at the end of The Last Werewolf. Talulla already knows she is pregnant with his baby at this point, although she never gets the chance to tell him.
- Lampshaded by Talulla in By Blood We Live, who idly wonders if she's pregnant again after having sex with Remshi shortly before his Suicide By Sunlight. Immediately Averted, however, in that the culmination of the "joining bloodlines" prophecy proves to be not a hybrid pregnancy but an acquired immunity to silver. Though the possibility does remain that she might be pregnant as well.
- Ship Tease: Talulla and Madeline, despite being two (mainly) heterosexual women, experience intense attraction to one another, apparently because all werewolves are bi. Talulla, who is attracted to women but has never had a sexual relationship with another woman, considers straight-up asking her for sex and is fairly confident she'd be accepted. In the end they instead hook up with Walker and Cloquet, respectively, though.
- Talulla/Cloquet and Jake/Harley, since their werewolf/familiar relationships can often cross over into romantic-seeming situations. Cloquet and Harley are pretty clearly hoping for something more. Nothing ever comes of either, though, despite both Talulla and Jake giving it some slight consideration in the narrative.
- Stuffed into the Fridge: The ultimate fate of both Jake and Talulla's familiars:
- In The Last Werewolf, Harley is beheaded, and his severed head left in a bag in the boot of Jake's car.
- In By Blood We Live, the werewolf pack lead by Talulla returns home from a hunt to find that Cloquet has been brutally murdered and his remains left in the kitchen.
- Suicide By Sunlight: Remshi, after deciding he's reached the end of his psychology.
- The preferred method of several of Remshi's vampiric friends; one of his recurring memories is of one companion simply crawling out into the sunlight after several centuries, having decided not to go on any more.
- Take That / Writer on Board: Remshi's disdain for anyone who values books based on whether they'd like to be friends with the main character feels like one of these, considering that it's a criticism levelled fairly frequently against Duncan's books.
- Unreliable Narrator: When Talulla takes over from Jake as the narrator she claims that he was this when describing other characters, particularly in his unflattering depictions of Cloquet and Madeline. In truth, she's probably as unreliable as he is in her own way.
- Unusual Euphemism: "Boochie" is Jake's (and later Talulla's) preferred slang term for a vampire.
- Villain Protagonist: The status is openly claimed by Jake, Talulla and Remshi, who are under no illusions about the fact that they're technically the bad guys by almost any standard. However, considering that the Hero Antagonists they're up against are revealed to be anything but saintly...
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Talulla Rising ends on a happy note, with Talulla reconnecting with her father for the first time since her disappearance. She mentions that he now visits for a week every month or two, is a near-constant presence in his grandchildren's lives, and the care she has to take to ensure his visits never coincide with a full moon. In By Blood We Live, he isn't mentioned once - not that his absence isn't understandable, but it seems weird that he and Talulla don't appear to be worried about each other.