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In Iskryne, the war against the Trollish invasion has been won, and the lands of men are safe again--at least for a while.  Isolfr and his sister, the Konigenwolf Viradechtis, have established their own wolfhaell. Viradechtis has taken two mates, and so the human pack has two war leaders. And in the way of the pack, they must come to terms with each other, must become b In Iskryne, the war against the Trollish invasion has been won, and the lands of men are safe again--at least for a while.  Isolfr and his sister, the Konigenwolf Viradechtis, have established their own wolfhaell. Viradechtis has taken two mates, and so the human pack has two war leaders. And in the way of the pack, they must come to terms with each other, must become brothers instead of rivals--for Viradechtis will not be gainsaid. She may even be prescient. A new danger comes to Iskryne. An army of men approaches, an army that wishes to conquer and rule. The giant trellwolves and their human brothers have never hunted men before. They will need to learn if they are to defend their homes.


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In Iskryne, the war against the Trollish invasion has been won, and the lands of men are safe again--at least for a while.  Isolfr and his sister, the Konigenwolf Viradechtis, have established their own wolfhaell. Viradechtis has taken two mates, and so the human pack has two war leaders. And in the way of the pack, they must come to terms with each other, must become b In Iskryne, the war against the Trollish invasion has been won, and the lands of men are safe again--at least for a while.  Isolfr and his sister, the Konigenwolf Viradechtis, have established their own wolfhaell. Viradechtis has taken two mates, and so the human pack has two war leaders. And in the way of the pack, they must come to terms with each other, must become brothers instead of rivals--for Viradechtis will not be gainsaid. She may even be prescient. A new danger comes to Iskryne. An army of men approaches, an army that wishes to conquer and rule. The giant trellwolves and their human brothers have never hunted men before. They will need to learn if they are to defend their homes.

30 review for The Tempering of Men

  1. 4 out of 5

    heidi

    My what a middle book this middle book is. There's nothing wrong with it, mind you. It's just, middly. We change focus from Isolfr, who was a pretty appealing character, to Vethur, who no one really liked in the first book, and Skajldwulf, who I kind of liked, and how they find comfort in each other. For a few pages at least, and then it's all roadtrip. We see the problems of the third book building, how will they remake themselves, what are we going to do about the not!Romans, etc. I think the t My what a middle book this middle book is. There's nothing wrong with it, mind you. It's just, middly. We change focus from Isolfr, who was a pretty appealing character, to Vethur, who no one really liked in the first book, and Skajldwulf, who I kind of liked, and how they find comfort in each other. For a few pages at least, and then it's all roadtrip. We see the problems of the third book building, how will they remake themselves, what are we going to do about the not!Romans, etc. I think the third book has the potential to be pretty spiffy. I think my favorite part of the book was the sworn-son. The jarl lost his heir to the wolfheall, so he took the most promising of his daughters and raised her as a son. It is a super interesting extension of the Albanian sworn-man theory. She is awesome, not because she is a woman, or not entirely, but because of the way you can see all the dudes in this very dudely series parsing out what jarl/woman/man/peer means to them. The plot, on the other hand, was sort of .... there was a road trip, and some bad guys, and a party at the end? Read if: You read and loved the first and plan to read the third. You will forgive it for only have two, relatively short, wolfboy sex scenes. Skip if: you are a patient person. Wait until the third book comes out and read all three at once.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Peggy

    This book was a big disappointment. I'd been looking forward to it for awhile, and then it was just a blatant and entirely boring setup for the third book in this series. And look, the middle piece of a trilogy does not have to be bad - Two Towers and Empire Strikes Back are the best of their respective series. But this book was disjointed and, quite frankly, boring. It inexplicably did away with Isolfr's POV and introduced a handful of characters to tell the story. And I didn't really care abou This book was a big disappointment. I'd been looking forward to it for awhile, and then it was just a blatant and entirely boring setup for the third book in this series. And look, the middle piece of a trilogy does not have to be bad - Two Towers and Empire Strikes Back are the best of their respective series. But this book was disjointed and, quite frankly, boring. It inexplicably did away with Isolfr's POV and introduced a handful of characters to tell the story. And I didn't really care about those characters or their stories that were little more than excuses for plot points. I wanted this book to tell me more about Isolfr and his relationship with his wolfjarls, and I didn't get anything close to that. I was also baffled by the decision to apparently make Isolfr 100% straight and just pair off his wolfjarls together. It would have been about a thousand times more interesting to develop that story as a threesome relationship. I will probably read the next book in this series, whenever it comes out, but only in the hope that the hours of my life spent reading this book weren't entirely in vain.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Wealhtheow

    In Companion to Wolves, Bear and Monette presented a dark and grim twist on the classic fantasy trope of telepathic bonds with animals. Men were forced to give up their expected lives and occupations when one of the gigantic wolves chose them, and lived instead the fierce but short lives of troll-fighters. In Companion to Wolves, (view spoiler)[the troll queen was finally destroyed, which will probably eradicate trolls from Iskyrne forever. (hide spoiler)] In this sequel, the men are left with t In Companion to Wolves, Bear and Monette presented a dark and grim twist on the classic fantasy trope of telepathic bonds with animals. Men were forced to give up their expected lives and occupations when one of the gigantic wolves chose them, and lived instead the fierce but short lives of troll-fighters. In Companion to Wolves, (view spoiler)[the troll queen was finally destroyed, which will probably eradicate trolls from Iskyrne forever. (hide spoiler)] In this sequel, the men are left with the question of what to do with themselves once their original reason for existing is gone. Even as they struggle with this question, a new threat appears: the endless armies of the Rhean. The story is told through the eyes of Skjaldwulf and Vethulf, who must share both the title of wolf-jarl and Isoflr's bed. A completely boring subplot about the aelfs is told via Brokklfr, who never seems to do anything; even his romance with Kari goes nowhere. And really, that's the basic problem with this book: it's all either clean-up of problems from the last book or set-up for the next book. There are a couple skirmishes, but it's all pretty low-key. Even the emotions and characters feel tamped down. All the pov characters talked and thought in similar ways, so I had a hard time keeping Skjaldwulf and Vethulf apart, even though supposedly they're completely different. (My other character related problem was that the wolves and the humans have similar naming conventions, so it was sometimes hard to remember which species someone belonged to.) The only character I was interested in was Fargrimr, who was born female but raised to be the male heir. The idea of a "sworn-man" is intriguing, but Fargrimr himself felt a bit like Aragorn back when he was Strider, and I super loved him. I'll read the next book in the series, because I'm already tense about the clash between the wolfthreats and the pseudo-Roman armies. But the characters and their interactions aren't interesting me; I hope Monette and Bear put a little more work into them.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kari

    While I liked learning more about the world, and what comes after the trolls, I had some big issues with this book that marred my enjoyment. Number one, it definitely falls prey to middle-book syndrome. There was no resolution, just more and more problems. Two, as much as I enjoyed the POV characters we get, Isolfr is not one of them. And number three, and my biggie: WTF is up with Vethulf, Skajldwulf, and Isolfr? I get that Isolfr is uncomfortable with attraction to men, but in A Companion to W While I liked learning more about the world, and what comes after the trolls, I had some big issues with this book that marred my enjoyment. Number one, it definitely falls prey to middle-book syndrome. There was no resolution, just more and more problems. Two, as much as I enjoyed the POV characters we get, Isolfr is not one of them. And number three, and my biggie: WTF is up with Vethulf, Skajldwulf, and Isolfr? I get that Isolfr is uncomfortable with attraction to men, but in A Companion to Wolves, I thought it was quite clear that he was both attracted to and had feelings for Skajldwulf, at the very least, though by the end I saw him also attracted to Vethulf. For crying out loud, one of the first things he says when he returns from Iskryne is lamenting how he's not as pretty any more! If that doesn't scream attraction, I don't know what does. I was expecting this book to have him (and them) coming to terms with that. (view spoiler)[Instead, we get Vethulf and Skajlwulf falling for one another, despite having no interaction throughout the entire book. Though I really enjoyed their first encounter after the battle--oh, how I love angsty stand-in sex, especially when both partners are lusting after the same stand-in--the rest didn't ring true for me. (hide spoiler)] In the end, I rather wish I hadn't read this sequel. Considering my fandom history, however, I have quite a bit of experience pretending parts of canon haven't happened, and I think that will be my defense here.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Collins

    A pretty good read, but not as compelling as the first book. The point of view changes from Isolfr to that of Vethulf and Skjaldwulf, which I was looking forward to, but I was a little disappointed in the external view of Isolfr. Plotwise (the sex is a minor element in this one) the wolf pack is worried that they’ll become obsolete since there are no more trolls to fight (another parallel with Dragonriders of Pern). Luckily a new enemy appears in the form of a pseudo-Roman invasion force. The end A pretty good read, but not as compelling as the first book. The point of view changes from Isolfr to that of Vethulf and Skjaldwulf, which I was looking forward to, but I was a little disappointed in the external view of Isolfr. Plotwise (the sex is a minor element in this one) the wolf pack is worried that they’ll become obsolete since there are no more trolls to fight (another parallel with Dragonriders of Pern). Luckily a new enemy appears in the form of a pseudo-Roman invasion force. The ending paves the way for a third book, which seems to be a bit slow in coming. I continue to enjoy the human-wolf interaction, and there's plenty of humor. For instance, when Skjaldwulf assures a nervous farmer that the wolves won’t eat his goats if they're asked not to, his wolf grumpily communicates a series of images, essentially complaining about the long list of things he's been asked not to eat.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Well, that was a quick and disappointing read. Despite my problems with the first book, I wanted to find out what happens next, especially to Isolfr and Viradechtis. HAHA say the authors, TIME FOR LOTS OF POV CHARACTERS, NONE OF WHICH ARE ISOLFR! Also, gah. The plots were less developed and interesting this time, probably because there were three distinct plots going on. The characterization was also worse. Maybe it's because the POV swapped around too much for the authors to really get deep into Well, that was a quick and disappointing read. Despite my problems with the first book, I wanted to find out what happens next, especially to Isolfr and Viradechtis. HAHA say the authors, TIME FOR LOTS OF POV CHARACTERS, NONE OF WHICH ARE ISOLFR! Also, gah. The plots were less developed and interesting this time, probably because there were three distinct plots going on. The characterization was also worse. Maybe it's because the POV swapped around too much for the authors to really get deep into anyone's head, maybe it was because they really didn't have a feel for the characters after the first book. I mean, yay, so we know more about the two wolfjarls and some other random people. That's all to the good, buuuuut. Meh. The entire book just feels like a sort of... middle piece of wondering how to set up and introduce the next book, and much of what happened could have been easily reduced without losing too much characterization simply through pacing of action. The one thing I really liked was seeing Isolfr through other characters' eyes, because maaaaan, no one gets that he is just this shy reserved sensitive dude at all and they all think he is scary and it just makes me laugh. Also: this book transferred from being fantasy to being AU history fantasy. sigh.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kaje Harper

    3.5 stars. I loved the first book in this series, A Companion to Wolves, (although be warned there is some dub-con sex in that one that is very disturbing to some people depending on how dubious you perceive the consent to be.) This book was more rambling, with the main characters separated again, delaying the emotional interactions that needed to happen to bind them into a working relationship. It is definitely only to be read after the first, or you will drown in the names and designations. Wh 3.5 stars. I loved the first book in this series, A Companion to Wolves, (although be warned there is some dub-con sex in that one that is very disturbing to some people depending on how dubious you perceive the consent to be.) This book was more rambling, with the main characters separated again, delaying the emotional interactions that needed to happen to bind them into a working relationship. It is definitely only to be read after the first, or you will drown in the names and designations. What I do love about this series is the feeling of authenticity, the realness of the details and the way the relationships between men and wolves are not all sweetness and light and do not make the wolves feel like furry people. There is obviously going to be another book, as this one ends in something of a cliff-hanger. Given the choice, I might wait to read this until the next one is available since it feels like it is building to something more and then stops short.

  8. 4 out of 5

    E

    This follows directly on A Companion to Wolves, where a Viking-like society soul bond with wolves to fight trolls, and occasionally have Viking sex with each other. The sequel has lost a lot of the id-scratching appeal of the first book, it spreads out the POVs to three secondary characters from the first book and divides the narrative as well. There's an increased focus on world-building which was interesting, also I appreciated the attempts to deal with finding a purpose for our wolf pack afte This follows directly on A Companion to Wolves, where a Viking-like society soul bond with wolves to fight trolls, and occasionally have Viking sex with each other. The sequel has lost a lot of the id-scratching appeal of the first book, it spreads out the POVs to three secondary characters from the first book and divides the narrative as well. There's an increased focus on world-building which was interesting, also I appreciated the attempts to deal with finding a purpose for our wolf pack after the victories of the first book, but the result is an equal lack of focus and drive for the story itself. I didn't mind seeing Isolfr from an outside perspective, especially as readers of the first book know that what comes across as coldness to others is really concealing major angsting, but the POV characters this time around weren't as appealing. One of the storylines sputters out before the end and the other two feel like set-ups for book three. The pace picked up sufficiently by the end that I will be picking up the next book but this was a bit of a letdown.

  9. 4 out of 5

    April

    (Originally posted @ CSI:Librarian.) 3.5 Stars - What both authors gave me was well worth reading and waiting for and everything about the book was solid and well-executed. And yet while virtually every page had something for me to highlight, applaud, commend, and/or appreciate in terms of writing or world-building skills... There just wasn't a lot that I could just flat-out love, gush, and/or rant about in a happy, gleeful way. For example, I appreciated the importance of the wolves as well as th (Originally posted @ CSI:Librarian.) 3.5 Stars - What both authors gave me was well worth reading and waiting for and everything about the book was solid and well-executed. And yet while virtually every page had something for me to highlight, applaud, commend, and/or appreciate in terms of writing or world-building skills... There just wasn't a lot that I could just flat-out love, gush, and/or rant about in a happy, gleeful way. For example, I appreciated the importance of the wolves as well as the men as individuals because I feel like that definitely made them all vivid and believeable. But I didn't love --or even like-- being relentlessly teased over and over again with the promise of the possibility of something happening between the male human characters gaining more forward momentum or at least a focus. Since finishing A Companion to Wolves over a year ago I had been very eager to learn what had happened with Isoflr, Skjaldwulf, and Vethulf. The results were certainly interesting and very well done over all, but I found a lot of the side effects to be quite an unwelcome, disappointing surprise. For one thing, Isolfr was even less likable here in the second book than he ever was in A Companion to Wolves and nothing was really even from his point of view. Even when I got over the fact that the three of them were never going to have a very worthwhile relationship all together, Skjaldwulf was constantly very far away somewhere and had maybe two scenes total with Vethulf. Two great scenes, mind you, but I wouldn't have minded more of them. Similarly, I wanted to see more of whatever was going on between Brokklfr and Kari at the beginning but that too went in a very different direction than I'd hoped. which isn't the same thing as not liking what the authors did, but I find it extremely tragic that the one book where I would have liked something romantic to be allowed to flourish was the one book where it was never allowed to really do so. I know there were hints of that or even the occasional interlude, but I didn't find that to be particularly satisfying. I also have to note that the original terms which, while interesting, were sort of jarring as they were used rather relentlessly throughout the length of this fairly short novel. I already know beyond a shadow of a doubt that both authors are accomplished and skilled. I already know that the world they're writing about is, quite literally, made of awesome. I also know I feel quite idiotic even bringing this up but having every single page littered with original terms in addition to original names I couldn't pronounce or often tell apart in some cases gave me a headache. So while this might not bother other readers, I have to admit that this aspect of the writing and world-building definitely kept me from ever getting completely lost or immersed in the story. In conclusion, The Tempering of Men was quite good. It was quite frustrating too, but I still think the Iskyrne series is worth checking out if only for the world Monette & Bear have created. I definitely think that the third book has the potential to be totally awesome given what happened in the second book and I'll be eager to revisit Iskryne once it comes out.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Trix

    I was so looking forward to reading this! I was left astounded by the intricate relationship and story telling in the first novel. And having to wait the order the second novel to arrive felt unbearably long. And now I kind of feel cheated of my expectations out of this book.(view spoiler)[ I was ready to continue the adventures alongside Isolf and Viradechtis. Instead they only played a secondary role (at best) while everyone else took stage front center. My attention was spread between each adv I was so looking forward to reading this! I was left astounded by the intricate relationship and story telling in the first novel. And having to wait the order the second novel to arrive felt unbearably long. And now I kind of feel cheated of my expectations out of this book.(view spoiler)[ I was ready to continue the adventures alongside Isolf and Viradechtis. Instead they only played a secondary role (at best) while everyone else took stage front center. My attention was spread between each adventure and character so much that it was easy to break from the world and find my thoughts wandering. Whereas the first book kept me hooked, totally absorbed in the world, re-emerging only after finishing, The Tempering of Men was opposite spectrum. It was interesting to view the world from different eyes and better understand the dynamics within the wolfheall but it clashed with my expectations and ruined the reading. I spent half the book hoping Isolf would finally take charge. Instead, he was presented as hating (or close enough) everything having to do with the wolfheall and his responsabilities in it. If it were up to him, he would just sit with Viradechtis and nothing else. Sure, he shied from attention and praises but I had to remind myself of that. A second novel was bound to enrich the world and bring into play politics and relationship with other powers in the lands but again, it tugged my attention in various directions and distracted rather focused me on the story. Half the characters were involved in breaking truce with a lost colony of alfar and the other half in discovering the Roman... I mean Rhean threat closing in on them and urging wolfjarls, jarls and other leading figures in joining for another war. Which pretty much obliterated any romantic infusions in the story. My remaining hope that I might learn more of the fragile trio formed between Isolf, Skjaldwulf and Vethulf evaporated, leaving Isolf cold and aloof (as his name indicated) with Skjaldwulf and Vethulf happy to bond with each other instead of keeping Isolf in the group. I got the feeling the author shied away from exploring that complex relationship and much rather took Isolf completely out of the equation, making the other two oh so happy and misty eye dreaming of each other. The book started with the two of them sighing wistfully after Isolfr and ended with them in bed, disregarding Isolfr totally. Way out of range of anything I could have imagined. And very much displeasing. (hide spoiler)] So, in the end, I can only say I started the book with fervent excitement and finished it struggling to keep a 3 star rating. The plot itself is worthy but my expectations concerning the direction of the story and character development were at opposite poles from what the book delivered. Sad, really.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    4.5 stars A wonderful visit back to the Iskryne world. It's such a fascinating civilization. I love what Monette/Bear do with the sexual politics and gender roles. Yet while those issues never overtake the story itself, they greatly inform the plot and culture. Vethulf and Skjaldwulf's stories really shed a lot of light on their characters. It was great to learn more about them, and their relationship dynamics are so interesting. I found myself reading slower and slower as the book progressed, so 4.5 stars A wonderful visit back to the Iskryne world. It's such a fascinating civilization. I love what Monette/Bear do with the sexual politics and gender roles. Yet while those issues never overtake the story itself, they greatly inform the plot and culture. Vethulf and Skjaldwulf's stories really shed a lot of light on their characters. It was great to learn more about them, and their relationship dynamics are so interesting. I found myself reading slower and slower as the book progressed, so I could stretch out the story. It's going to be tough waiting till 2013 for book 3 of the series. The only reason I didn't give this 5 stars is because I was so disappointed that Isolfr was such a peripheral character. I really missed him.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jacqie

    The was the middle-bookiest of middle books. I came into this series kind of ass-backwards. I read the third one first, loved it and then went back and read the first book in the series. Hm, looking at my reviews that was about one and a half years ago. Then I got to this book. I figured my way out through the third book with no problems- characters and relationships made sense and the authors did a good job with letting me know who they were without anything feeling like an infodump. In this boo The was the middle-bookiest of middle books. I came into this series kind of ass-backwards. I read the third one first, loved it and then went back and read the first book in the series. Hm, looking at my reviews that was about one and a half years ago. Then I got to this book. I figured my way out through the third book with no problems- characters and relationships made sense and the authors did a good job with letting me know who they were without anything feeling like an infodump. In this book, I couldn't figure out who anybody was, and I'd read the book in which they'd been introduced already! Eventually I started remembering some things, but it was not easy for me to get into the book, partly because of that. The other reason was that not much happened. In my opinion, you could go directly from the first to the third book and not miss anything of importance. There's LOTS of trekking through the cold wilderness, being hungry and smelling horrible because you can't wash. Maybe that's your jam, but it's not mine. I suppose the theme of the books is "what are warriors good for when they've vanquished their enemy?" but I wasn't really interested in the answer to that question. Also, Isolfr is really only seen at a distance. I liked him a lot as a character and missed him- the other characters didn't fill the void for me.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Juushika

    With the troll threat extinguished, the trellwolves and wolfcarls must determine their future role in Iskryne society. This sequel widens its perspective considerably to three PoV characters and as many overlapping plotlines--also to the larger world, and other human cultures, of its setting. It's rewarding to see Isolfr, protagonist of the first book, from an external perspective; the characters and relationships here have convincing nuance. But the slice-of-life feel of this can't rival the in With the troll threat extinguished, the trellwolves and wolfcarls must determine their future role in Iskryne society. This sequel widens its perspective considerably to three PoV characters and as many overlapping plotlines--also to the larger world, and other human cultures, of its setting. It's rewarding to see Isolfr, protagonist of the first book, from an external perspective; the characters and relationships here have convincing nuance. But the slice-of-life feel of this can't rival the intense personal investment or id-level payoff of the first book. It remains surprisingly likeable, readable, engaging; but the first book is more than likeable, it's striking, and this can't compare.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Aldi

    (This contains some spoilers.) More wolves! More swartalfs! More territorial wolfjarl pissing contests, many many journeys, and not quite as much – but still quite a lot – gay wolf-bonded viking sex. Good times. I really like the unique premise of these books and that they don't play coy with some of the more controversial issues. And I enjoy the sly sense of humour shared by many of the characters. I could explore this world for quite a bit longer than the books actually spend playing in it (but (This contains some spoilers.) More wolves! More swartalfs! More territorial wolfjarl pissing contests, many many journeys, and not quite as much – but still quite a lot – gay wolf-bonded viking sex. Good times. I really like the unique premise of these books and that they don't play coy with some of the more controversial issues. And I enjoy the sly sense of humour shared by many of the characters. I could explore this world for quite a bit longer than the books actually spend playing in it (but more on that later). Generally I enjoyed the switch in POVs. It was great to get more insight into Isolfr's two wolfjarls, especially Vethulf who was something of an enigma in the first book. And I love me some Skjaldwulf with his level head and wry sense of humour and rueful reflections on how he's older than dirt at the senile age of thirty-six (okay then, mate). Vethulf and Skjaldwulf coming to a more beneficial arrangement than growling at each other and secretly pining for a guy neither of them can ever really have was also nice to see, although I do wish more time had been spent on developing that. It started off great with their conversation about Isolfr but then almost immediately the plot sends them to different locations for almost the entire duration of the book, which felt like a bit of a let-down in terms of seeing a proper development of their relationship. (Though the way they started playing the "What Would Skjaldwulf/Vethulf Do" game across hundreds of miles and obviously missed each other was admittedly lovely and alarmingly close to being adorable). (Also, by wanting more development, I don't mean I wanted to see lots of them sitting around and talking about their feelings – I realise that would have been out of character. But I expected more than an entire book of physical separation with a quick shag on either end.) I did really like where they ended up, though (with Isolfr matchmaking, no less!), and I still think the entire relationship - Isolfr, Vethulf and Skjaldwulf plus wolves - is such a refreshingly unique and issues-ridden configuration. Oh Isolfr, why so very straight. I wasn't sure about Brokkolfr at first, but he quickly grew on me, and Amma with her boundless love for puppies of all species was just precious. His and Kari's adventures with the hidden swartalfar tribe were fascinating – it was wonderful to get more insight into their culture and background. And that cave/warren was an awesome setting. Nicely unique variation on the metal-mining elf type. I did miss Isolfr as a POV, I have to say. His perspective in the first book as someone who is never going to be quite comfortable with his role in this society and had some hard choices to make because of that was so complex and interesting and I missed being in his head and learning how he feels about the current situation. By necessity he came off mostly as "aloof, unavailable ice prince" in this second book as viewed by the other characters, and it was quite the contrast from the first book where we got to experience his own insecurities and conflicts first-hand. In a related vein, I found myself wishing more than once that these books were longer and that various plots and developments were more fleshed out. I don't mean bloated tomes like George R.R. Martin's latest few, but sometimes the narration is so perfunctory, almost summarising, when I would have loved for it to linger a bit and explore events more fully. I do like when an author knows which parts can be safely skipped or wrapped up quickly, but sometimes this made me feel like I was being much too quickly herded from one plot point to the next when I wanted to stay and play. The introduction of Otter was a major asset! One thing I felt was missing from the first book was the presence of any major human female characters – which kind of comes with the premise and I accepted it, but Otter's appearance was a very welcome surprise anyway. Loved her attitude and the rapport she had with Skjaldwulf. Can we hook her up with Isolfr please? Those two kids both deserve something good. Fargrimr was another character I enjoyed, although I was somewhat torn about the sworn-son arrangement – it was fascinating as a concept but in a world already so heavily male-focused, it'd have been extra-awesome if s/he could have held a position and commanded respect without having to completely deny her actual gender. I'm still struggling with the naming conventions in these books. I like intricately built societies with their own languages in fantasy, but I also really like clarity in world-building, so I wish these books had a glossary, given the sheer wealth of foreign-language concepts that are frequently used but less frequently explained. After two books, I'm still not entirely sure of the exact differences between a wolfheofod and a wolfheall and a wolfthreat, to name just one example. And a lot of the characters are not fleshed out enough to be particularly distinguishable, which isn't exactly helped by the fact that every single man is named something that ends in "wulf" or "olfr". Some terms (like "Franangfordthreat") are also just ridiculously unwieldy but that's a minor nitpick. All in all, this had a bit of a "middle book" vibe but it was still solid entertainment and I enjoyed it thoroughly, criticisms notwithstanding. Next, please!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Thistle

    I really, really wanted to like this book. I love the idea of being bonded to giant telepathic wolves. I love the word the books are set in. I love how natural and accepted gay sex was in this book. But I just couldn't like this book. I stopped reading it later than perhaps any other book I've read: I reached 92% (one more night of reading and I would have finished it). I was just so beyond caring at that point though, I wanted to spend my very limited reading time on something I might like bett I really, really wanted to like this book. I love the idea of being bonded to giant telepathic wolves. I love the word the books are set in. I love how natural and accepted gay sex was in this book. But I just couldn't like this book. I stopped reading it later than perhaps any other book I've read: I reached 92% (one more night of reading and I would have finished it). I was just so beyond caring at that point though, I wanted to spend my very limited reading time on something I might like better. Tempering of Men felt more like an in-between step between books instead of a book itself. There was no big plotline through the book, just a couple smaller things happening (most of which I didn't like/didn't work for me). There were three POV storylines. In order of how much I liked them: 1) The "love" (like?) story. Usually these wolf groups have one alpha male and alpha "female" (really a man), but in this case there were two alpha males and both of them loved the alpha female... but he was straight and didn't love either of them back. So, through time, the two alpha males realized they loved each other. In a book series where I still, after two books, had no idea who most of the characters were, it was unsurprising that the subplot with the characterization was the one I liked best. 2) Some new character who wasn't in book 1, met the world's elf race. As I never liked the elf race, this really was not at all interesting to me. 3) Half of the wolf group traveled south and met... the Roman Empire. It had a slightly different name, as everything in this book did from the real world version, but it was still the Roman Empire. While there had been nothing in the previous book that said there weren't other parts of the world other than the cold north where the wolf men lived, this felt like it came completely out of left field, and I really did not enjoy it at all. Usually I rail against books that include a list of who characters are and a glossary of made-up words, but this book needed those. However, instead of including them, I wish the authors had instead written in ways that hadn't made them necessary. Character names were 10-20 letter long, appeared mostly random order to English-only me, and more often than not, started with V. At the 90% point of the second book, I encountered a name and had no idea if it was even a wolf or a man, and that was the final straw. I wanted to like this book. Apparently I enjoy the "companion animal" genre (which makes sense, really). Sadly this one just didn't work for me. I never hated it (thus my "okay" rating for it), but I ever liked it either. I haven't deleted the third book from my Kindle yet, but I don't expect that I'll be reading it anytime soon.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Eisheth

    I started this book with equal parts eagerness and trepidation, because I truly adored A Companion to Wolves, so I was surely setting myself up for disappointment with unreasonable expectations. And I was right, kind of. I did like this book. These are the same fantastic settings and characters that I loved from before, and we get to learn more about their fascinating world and follow on more of their crazy shenanigans. And there were some awesome new things; brilliant layers added to this alrea I started this book with equal parts eagerness and trepidation, because I truly adored A Companion to Wolves, so I was surely setting myself up for disappointment with unreasonable expectations. And I was right, kind of. I did like this book. These are the same fantastic settings and characters that I loved from before, and we get to learn more about their fascinating world and follow on more of their crazy shenanigans. And there were some awesome new things; brilliant layers added to this already rich and intricate world. Some sequels leave me wishing I'd stopped after the last book, but that was not the case here. But I do I feel like it suffered from a distinct lack of focus. Companion felt very tightly plotted to me; it had a strongly woven central plot, revolving around Isolfr and his integration into a wolf-bonded, troll-killin' band of warriors during a time of war and upheaval. The Tempering of Men didn't seem have as much focus. It spun out in a lot of different directions, and I never got a strong impression of what the book was really about at its core, besides the further adventures of Wolf-Vikings and Co. Elements were touched on with some significance, only to trickle off into obscurity. Obstacles were raised, with little or no resolution. It felt like a lot of stage-setting for the next installment, so maybe my issues will settle down a bit with a third book under this series' belt. I feel that the writing slipped a bit from the "authentic" feel of the first. I hesitate to say "authentic," because of course this is a fantasy, not a historical. I don't know or frankly care how accurate the old-timey Scandanavian-ish details are. But this book, at times, had a more contemporary feel to the prose, and sometimes jarringly modern-sounding dialog. For instance, a character starting a monologue with "So I was thinking..." (Which just feels very current in style to me, but maybe I'm wrong.) All in all, a good book. Enjoyable, but not quite as riveting as the first. A definite link in the chain, that will flounder a bit in my estimation until it is joined by a strong third book to the series, which I await with eagerness.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Hilton

    I have loved everything I've read by this pair of authors, including the short stories on which they've collaborated. I really enjoyed this book, too, which is a credit to the authors, because it's pretty piecemeal. You get the idea that the authors thought they were done after one book, and the readers said, "More!" And the authors were like, "Really? Because what comes next isn't that exciting." And the readers said, "We want to know anyway!" So the author's said, "You got it." This book deals I have loved everything I've read by this pair of authors, including the short stories on which they've collaborated. I really enjoyed this book, too, which is a credit to the authors, because it's pretty piecemeal. You get the idea that the authors thought they were done after one book, and the readers said, "More!" And the authors were like, "Really? Because what comes next isn't that exciting." And the readers said, "We want to know anyway!" So the author's said, "You got it." This book deals with what happens after a successful war. The wolves and their bonded human brothers exist to fight the trolls. Their roll in the community is defined by this desperately needed task. However, in Book 1, they managed to actually kill or dive out all the trolls. So now what do they do? Fortunately, a number of lesser enemies present themselves, but you get a real sense of the frustration and futility of a honed military machine that is suddenly without a real opponent. The book follows a number of subplots, character relationships, and minor skirmishes. It lacks cohesion, but I still found it thoroughly enjoyable. The book is also interesting because it never shows Isolfr's point of view. You see him as others see him, which is eye-opening. You realize exactly how well Viradechtis understood her brother's dilemma when she chose her mates. Sexuality in the book is incredibly nuanced and realistic. For instance, you have a character trying to explain that, while he's capable of enjoying gay sex, he only falls in love with women. This is definitely a book for people who enjoyed Book 1. You should start with A Companion to Wolves and then read this one if you liked the first.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Meg

    The Tempering of Men OR We Ran Out of Trolls, Now What? I find it interesting how A Companion to Wolves was a strong stand alone book, but The Tempering of Men is anything but stand alone. It leans heavily on both the first book and a book that hasn't even been written yet. It's not that the plot is thin. The plot is quite thick. It's that the plot isn't remotely finished. Oh, we reach AN ending point by the time the book closes and its not even a forced ending. It's a fine ending. It's just not the The Tempering of Men OR We Ran Out of Trolls, Now What? I find it interesting how A Companion to Wolves was a strong stand alone book, but The Tempering of Men is anything but stand alone. It leans heavily on both the first book and a book that hasn't even been written yet. It's not that the plot is thin. The plot is quite thick. It's that the plot isn't remotely finished. Oh, we reach AN ending point by the time the book closes and its not even a forced ending. It's a fine ending. It's just not the end of the plot, so we're left lacking a deeper sense of resolution. Also, all of Brokkolfr's bits felt really tacked on. They were good for perspective on the wolfheal and I'm sure the things established in his book will come to be really important in the next story. But for this story, they felt tacked on. What I did like about this book was how it developed other characters in this world, most dominantly Skjaldwulf, with a side of Vethulf, Kari, and Brokkolfr. And through their eyes, we see further development of Isolfr, gaining access to knowledge about him that we couldn't get from the third person limited of the first book. That said, Isolfr is NOT the main character, not even close. He's present, he's active, but the book focuses far more on other characters. So if you're looking for lots more Isolfr, you will be disappointed. But if you just want more wolves and their gay wolf companions killing things, then you will be pleased.

  19. 5 out of 5

    mlady_rebecca

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Sequel to A Companion to Wolves. Well, damn. This was one of those “turn the page and the book was unexpectedly over” endings, a peculiarity of ebooks. I know there is a third book, but this felt like it stopped in the middle of the story. Biggest difference between this and “A Companion to Wolves” is that this book had multiple point of view characters, where the first book stayed with Isolfr. (Third person, but single narrator.) There are three perspectives here. (Though still third person.) The Sequel to A Companion to Wolves. Well, damn. This was one of those “turn the page and the book was unexpectedly over” endings, a peculiarity of ebooks. I know there is a third book, but this felt like it stopped in the middle of the story. Biggest difference between this and “A Companion to Wolves” is that this book had multiple point of view characters, where the first book stayed with Isolfr. (Third person, but single narrator.) There are three perspectives here. (Though still third person.) The two wolfjarls bonded to Isolfr ( Vethulf & Skjaldwulf ) + the boy bonded to another bitch in the pack ( Brokkolfr ). It was satisfying to see Vethulf & Skjaldwulf continue to develop as a couple, with Isolfr only participating in sex with his wolfjarls when Viradechtis is in heat. Only complaint with the split perspectives, we had several “pause on a cliffhanger to visit another character’s story” jumps. Those drive me crazy. Even paged ahead with one, and I don’t commonly do that.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Gardavson

    About 2/3rds of the way thru, I gave up on this book having any plot whatsoever. Still, the first book was largely character driven, so perhaps there was still hope. I'd say this book was character driven, but it was disappointing in that. The characters were just a bit loose. It was too far and between that we got good snatches of the characters. I think it was a mistake, separating Skaldwulf and Venthulf. Or at least for separating them for so long. I think we would have benefited from their s About 2/3rds of the way thru, I gave up on this book having any plot whatsoever. Still, the first book was largely character driven, so perhaps there was still hope. I'd say this book was character driven, but it was disappointing in that. The characters were just a bit loose. It was too far and between that we got good snatches of the characters. I think it was a mistake, separating Skaldwulf and Venthulf. Or at least for separating them for so long. I think we would have benefited from their spending more time interacting with each other. I get, though, that a lot of their relationship was reveled to themselves through their separation. Still. The best part of the book was the last line. And no, don't skip to that, you have to read the whole book for it to have any impact. Now I'm left wondering where the 3rd book is. It was supposed to have been published last year, but it wasn't and I haven't even heard it mentioned again.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Terri

    Mixed feelings on this one - I loved getting Skjaldwulf's and Vethulf's POVs (Skjaldwulf is kind of my favourite) but the book as a whole felt meandering, with a lot of set up for not much pay off. (view spoiler)[They fight wyverns! They fight bears! They fight Romans! They... meet some more svartalfs? I do kind of want the story of not!Vikings going to war against not!Romans, but as there seems to be a time jump between this book and the next book I'm not sure if we're going to get it. Skjaldwul Mixed feelings on this one - I loved getting Skjaldwulf's and Vethulf's POVs (Skjaldwulf is kind of my favourite) but the book as a whole felt meandering, with a lot of set up for not much pay off. (view spoiler)[They fight wyverns! They fight bears! They fight Romans! They... meet some more svartalfs? I do kind of want the story of not!Vikings going to war against not!Romans, but as there seems to be a time jump between this book and the next book I'm not sure if we're going to get it. Skjaldwulf and Vethulf being geographically separated for the majority of the book was frustrating and I wanted a lot more emotional resolution for them. (hide spoiler)] On the plus side, I still love this world, I love Otter, and I read the whole thing in two days.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Neeuqdrazil

    Very much a middle book - sets the stage for book 3, but a very enjoyable read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joy

    Clearly a middle book--less focused and more set-up than the first book in the series, which I loved, but still intriguing. I can't wait for the last one!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    This book wasn't as good as the first. Plot-wise, there's nothing wrong, per se, with the premise in and of itself... but the first book didn't exactly need a sequel either. The spot it left off at was perfectly fine: the main conflict had been resolved, permanently; the last of the trolls had been driven out, and it was well and truly established that they weren't coming back. It could have worked perfectly well as a standalone if the authors had left it at that. That just might account for a lar This book wasn't as good as the first. Plot-wise, there's nothing wrong, per se, with the premise in and of itself... but the first book didn't exactly need a sequel either. The spot it left off at was perfectly fine: the main conflict had been resolved, permanently; the last of the trolls had been driven out, and it was well and truly established that they weren't coming back. It could have worked perfectly well as a standalone if the authors had left it at that. That just might account for a large chunk of the problem, and it might just explain why this story frequently reads more like a fanfic than it does a true sequel. The conflict that drove the previous book is no more, so if they want to be able to keep this train going, the authors are either going to have to retcon it back into existence, or pull a new one out of thin air. The latter is definitely preferable to the former, but... it still is difficult, sometimes, not to wonder what exactly the point is. The story's other big weakness is the fact that it drops Isolfr as a POV character, a choice behind which it's frankly difficult to see the reasoning. Isolfr was an interesting character, and he had a compelling arc: as someone who took a path in life he never would have chosen on his own initiative because he saw it as his duty; as a straight man who took up a position where he knew he might very well end up having sex with a whole lot of men, again out of a sense of duty; as (a personal favorite) a fish out of water trying to navigate a world he'd previously only known through a lot of exceedingly unflattering rumors; as (another favorite) someone whose moral sense was beginning to clash strongly with his sense of duty to his people. Then, too, there was the complex web of relationships the previous book built up, with Isolfr as the central thread holding that web together: with his family, with his friends, with his daughter, with his svartalf allies, with the various men vying for his attention, and, of course, with his bonded wolf. Without Isolfr's compelling viewpoint, the whole thing promptly comes unraveled, and all we're left with is a barely-connected collection of threads blowing aimlessly in the wind. In terms of workability, the premise is fine. In terms of technical competence, the writing is also fine. There's just not much to get emotionally invested in, and this is the sort of story that needs emotional investment in order to be enjoyable. The first book was dark, it was gritty, it was brutal, it was morally gray, it ran the gamut from hot to horrifying over the course of a single page, and it was a damn good read. There was a really strong air of focusing on what was important not in spite of the fact that the world was ending, but because of it. This... while there is some good stuff there in Skjaldwulf's relationship with Otter and in Vethulf's efforts to grow into his role as a leader, overall, it's a lot more aimless. It feels recycled, as if the authors, after writing themselves into a corner where their heroes no longer had any trolls to fight, decided to throw some Romans at them instead, but with very little rationale behind that decision beyond "Hey, let's publish more books so we can make more money!" Then there's the fact that, unlike the first book, this one doesn't have any sort of real arc or tell any sort of self-contained story. There's no direction and no climax. Instead, the whole thing from beginning to end serves as little more than a setup for the final book in the series. Again, setting up stuff for subsequent books is fine, that's what a series is... but even a middle book ought to have some sort of resolution, or closure, or character arc, something to make this a story worth reading in its own right as opposed to just being a trailer for the grand finale. No one's expecting you to topple the Empire before the final book, but you could at least take out a Death Star or split the Fellowship.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Reija

    It's really hard to talk about the Tempering of Men, without mentioning my thoughts on a Companion to Wolves, the first book in the series. That book I loved when I first read it and on re-read it settled firmly on the 4 star range for me. It had a new take on the traditional hero's journey, the stakes were high and the world was introduced and developed in a plausible manner. The book was well written and there was a lot of thought put into it, even if some of the content may have been questiona It's really hard to talk about the Tempering of Men, without mentioning my thoughts on a Companion to Wolves, the first book in the series. That book I loved when I first read it and on re-read it settled firmly on the 4 star range for me. It had a new take on the traditional hero's journey, the stakes were high and the world was introduced and developed in a plausible manner. The book was well written and there was a lot of thought put into it, even if some of the content may have been questionable. It felt right in the context of the world. Also it had a strict three-act-structure and a single point of view character, which for a book that short were strengths. Now... The second book, while still holding true to the world building and even expanding it, crossing the bridge between fantasy and historical fiction in places, kind of squanders the goodwill gained from the first book. First of all the book is only 300 pages and it is told from the point of view of three characters. In addition to these three POV characters there are a ton of additional side characters, which causes character development to be either non-existent or very sporadic. I had the feeling like this story was a thin slice of butter being spread on a too large piece of bread. There was also no three-act structure, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but in this case felt like the book came to an end, just as the story was starting to go somewhere. Very little was resolved and there were some plot points that went absolutely nowhere, even though when they were introduced it felt like they were going to amount to something. I did enjoy the world building still, it remains as solid as in the first book, but unfortunately good world building can't hold up the whole book. It's like asking a four-legged table to stand whilst the plot-leg, character-leg were chopped off. What story there was, was still entertaining to me, but my entertainment was laced with a lot of frustration of how little the authors were doing with the story. Which is a shame because I've never been disappointed by neither Monette nor Bear's work. I also enjoyed the main relationship a lot, but I wish there had been more build up and character interactions between the two. As it was, it felt like that particular plot was kindled, but never really brought to a proper conclusion, most likely due to the fact that the book was cut short. And that really is my main issue with Tempering of Men. There is a good story hiding there, but it's impeded by a lack of word count. If this book was say 500-600 pages I feel the authors could have fleshed out the characters a lot more and tied up a lot of the loose ends whilst still leaving something for the final installment. I'm still going to read the third volume, but I'm a bit skeptical because it will follow a different pov character and be another 300 page book, so I'm not sure how much closure I'm like to get. All this said, a Companion to Wolves remains a good book and works perfectly as a stand alone. I'm just a little saddened that the sequel missed its mark.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    This was an odd sequel. It started where the previous book left off, but now we see the story from the viewpoints of Brokkolfr, Vetulf, and Skjaldwolf. In the first few chapters it appeared that we would be getting a story about how the two wolfjarls are settling into their new position and dynamic with each other and Isofr. Not so much... They all end up separated dealing with minor issues, which were resolved, and then a major issue (invasion), which was not at all resolved. We did get to see This was an odd sequel. It started where the previous book left off, but now we see the story from the viewpoints of Brokkolfr, Vetulf, and Skjaldwolf. In the first few chapters it appeared that we would be getting a story about how the two wolfjarls are settling into their new position and dynamic with each other and Isofr. Not so much... They all end up separated dealing with minor issues, which were resolved, and then a major issue (invasion), which was not at all resolved. We did get to see a bit more of the world, but even that was very sparsely sketched out. The biggest problem with this novel is that it's missing an actual conclusion. It's like the authors had a couple ideas, wrote the pieces up, turned in what they had, and just walked away. There is no clear conclusion to the two wolfjarls' relationship and no resolution to the impending invasion. I expected a lot more from those two authors.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Amy K.

    I liked this second book even better than the first, perhaps for the changing narrative POVs, perhaps for the change of scenery, or maybe just for the fact that now that the worldbuilding is mostly done, I get to see the intimacies and intricacies of daily life, which, after character development, is my favorite thing. Anyway, there are worse things than to see Vethulf growing into his role in the threat and to see the wider world through Skjaldwulf's experienced eyes. The Rheans are a menacing I liked this second book even better than the first, perhaps for the changing narrative POVs, perhaps for the change of scenery, or maybe just for the fact that now that the worldbuilding is mostly done, I get to see the intimacies and intricacies of daily life, which, after character development, is my favorite thing. Anyway, there are worse things than to see Vethulf growing into his role in the threat and to see the wider world through Skjaldwulf's experienced eyes. The Rheans are a menacing collective antagonist, too. I'm looking forward to seeing how it all plays out in the third book.

  28. 5 out of 5

    sigaloenta

    Very middle-y, with a lot of small incidents, that didn't resolve anything, and just set things up for the big confrontation to come in the third book. That said, they were nice incidents, and stretched out the world in interesting ways. I continue to very much enjoy the elves in this series: weird, inhuman and v. saga-like. I'm guessing this is largely Monette's part of it, because the aesthetic does seem like it might be moving toward the stuff we see in very different context/setting in Gobli Very middle-y, with a lot of small incidents, that didn't resolve anything, and just set things up for the big confrontation to come in the third book. That said, they were nice incidents, and stretched out the world in interesting ways. I continue to very much enjoy the elves in this series: weird, inhuman and v. saga-like. I'm guessing this is largely Monette's part of it, because the aesthetic does seem like it might be moving toward the stuff we see in very different context/setting in Goblin Emperor.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I'm not really sure why there's a troll on the cover of this book seeing as how they were all eradicated in the previous book. I was really hoping the trolls would somehow make another appearance, though. I found the Rhean army to be boring. That may be on me, though, because Roman themed fantasy stuff gets old quickly in my eyes. I was hoping for more Kari and Brokkolfr, too. Still, I greatly enjoyed the books because I just love their writing style.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ale

    3.5 stars Same triumphs/mistakes as the first one, and though some of the new POVs certainly added to the story, some others felt somewhat superfluous and like they didn't add anything to the plot. Still though, I couldn't put it down until I finished it, so that's points in its favor.

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