S.A. Swann's Wolfbreed; A Book Review by 'Goji' Rob Morris
In the earlier part of this past millennium, the Western Church launched the Northern Crusades. It was often marked by bloody, Un-Christian actions.
The line between the world of the old gods and the adherents of the One God is a thin one, as a knight of the Teutonic Order in 1221 learns during an incursion into Prussia (Prusa), when he sees his entire troop wiped away by a feral creature that seems also Human. The plans he initiates after his very near triumph drive the bulk of this novel.
After her wolf-form gets her out of the Order's keep, Lily, the cub survivor of that earlier creature is found in the woods by a young man named Uldolf and brought home to his adoptive family. Uldolf has lived with his uncle's family since the Christian knights conquered the village that once stood nearby, a horrific attack that saw his family torn apart and cost him his arm. Uldolf does not recall how all this occurred, and has no real desire to. As the family comes to care for the gentle loving girl Lily can be, they have no idea of what she can become, or the lengths to which two feuding factions within the Church will go to get her back.
Swann acknowledges straight out in his foreword that this novel owes its direct initial inspiration to the manga-anime series Elfen Lied by Lynn Okamoto, and the debt is both deep and apparent. Readers/viewers of that series will quickly spot the stand-ins and recombinations and common situations, but this is far from all the novel has, and the differences aside from the time-setting also become apparent.
While the odd word is bandied about here and there, the Hercules/Xena rule of common talking is in effect, so no ten-footnote references await the unwary. It is strange for someone who thinks of Prussian and German as synonymous to see it so firmly set apart in this story. Christianity itself does okay in this story; some of its supposed officers not so much, as they are very willing to turn away from responsibility for what they have created, and almost incapable of seeing how at odds their mission and methods are with the beliefs they go to the sword for.
Swann recreates life and death on the German forested frontier well. A very good book in any event, and for me as an Elfen Lied fan, a lot of fun. I recommend it.