Gillian Bradshaw,
The Wolf Hunt
(Forge, 2001)

Gillian Bradshaw, a Cambridge-educated classics scholar and author of ten previous historical novels, bases The Wolf Hunt on one of the lais of Marie de France. It is a breathtaking adventure that showcases her talents as both a historian and a novelist.

Marie Penthievere of Chalandery is a wealthy noblewoman who is abducted from a Norman priory and taken to a court in Brittany. She vows never to dishonor her family by marrying a Breton. Tiernan of Talensac, a Breton overlord is the only one who might change her mind, but he is already getting married -- and he keeps a secret from all. Tiernan disappears shortly after his marriage and is presumed dead. His widow remarries his rival and assumes title of the land, which steadily declines under her unskilled rule. Marie is the only one clear-headed enough to solve the mystery of Tiernan's disappearance.

Bradshaw's refreshing prose demonstrates a knightly jaunt at the same time that it revealed the harshness of the feudal system and the serf's dependency on the whim of his lord. With this heroine, Bradshaw provides a feminist twist to an old character that is very refreshing and believable. Medieval Brittany is fantastically portrayed and the book demonstrates a great deal of good research by Bradshaw. She also cleverly avoids the usual pitfalls of the lycanthropic genre and brilliantly shows Tiarnan's dual nature, thus creating an unforgettable hero. Fine supporting characters are to be found here as well; I was fond in particular of Tiher, Duchess Havoise and Duke Hoel.

Gillian Bradshaw is right in believing the lais by Marie de France deserve to be better known. The Wolf Hunt is a wonderful tribute that you should, in my opinion, read!

[ by Melissa Kowalewski ]
Rambles: 13 April 2002

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