Book Review | The award-winning Norwegian author’s novel about wolves and blood opens a very promising fantasy trilogy

Siri Pettersen’s new fantasy trilogy is about transitioning to adulthood and wolves.

Siri Pettersen: The Iron Wolf (Jernulven). Eeva-Liisa Nyqvist, Finland. Elm. 486 s.

A wolf hunterwho has always been afraid of wolves. A 19-year-old young woman, Juva, has worn all her life the monster she saw as a child, Iron. The monster has killed Juva’s father and Juva knows he is to blame for the incident.

Juva has abandoned the profession of her mother and sister as blood scanners, fortune tellers who see the future of her clients from their blood. At the beginning of the story, Juva has to face all the things she has rejected: her duty and her legacy as a blood reader – and Iron itself.

Norwegian Siri Pettersen the new Vardari trilogy takes place in the same complex of several worlds as his acclaimed Raven Circles trilogy. However, it is a completely independent sequel: Readers of the Korpinkehä series may notice unifying bonds, but they mainly enrich the reading experience. In the raven circles, Pettersen introduced three interconnected worlds, in Rautasude it is the fourth.

The Vardari trilogy is a fantasy aimed at degree adult readers. Korpinkehien Hirka was 15–17 years old, Juva is already 19 years old at the beginning of the story. However, both young women perceive themselves as outsiders. Hirkka’s difference was visible: he was a tailless man in a world of tails.

The difference in juva is more internal. She suffers from a panic disorder that makes her heart beat as if there were two of them in her chest. Juva has been able to control his symptoms by ingesting a soothing torah tea – until he is practically addicted to it.

Juva’s mother and sister are simply creepy. Blood readers are practically scammers, they tell people what they want to hear and charge a good fee for it. They strengthen their vision of the future with blood beads supplied to them by mysterious rodents. The Vardars are rumored to be immortal.

Blood beads are also a drug. Those who use them too much get wolf disease, which makes them bloodthirsty beasts. Juva hopes to become a red hunter who hunts these dangerous “werewolves” instead of wolves.

In the new one too in the series, magic forms a whole in which people, animals, blood and the omnipotent Mahti merge with each other. As a skilled world builder, Pettersen has not explained the magic of the eruption.

He demonstrates the same skill in creating the venue for the story: The town of Náklav, crammed into Hyise Island, and its inhabitants, with their customs, are their own fascinating world, to which Pettersen has drawn with peethite materials from Gothic imagery. Gothic is perfectly compatible with blood, wolves, rugged landscapes and unknown creatures lurking in the dark.

Juva is on the border between youth and adulthood, at a stage where the rebellion of youth must move forward. Juva finds his own crappy way to do this. Unlike often in Anglo-American youth fantasy literature, Juva is no real girl waiting for it.

Juva has her own desires, in the realization of which she has the relevant touch of the bottom of her youth. For example, adjusting with the hopeless Rugen, who is good mainly for sex and cheating, is the kind of interpersonal depiction you come across less in British or American youth books.

Vardari trilogy the first part is very promising. It is possible that the series will develop into an even better fantasy work than its predecessor.

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