Publisher: Blue Hound Visions
Publication date: 07/27/2011
Type: Fiction, Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery
Ray's rating: 3 stars
Characters: Kelyn of Ketura, Thainn (Wolverine), Endre, Petissanji, Gergo, Abendar
Amazon book page.
Goodreads review page.
Wolverine’s Daughter is a solid sword-and-sorcery story with a strong female protagonist. Set in the “primitive” world of such stories, it contains all the trappings of fantasy tale-thrillers and shows Ms. Durgin’s comfort with the genre. The story’s strength is depicting its hero, Kelyn, as a woman in a role that is classically male. Its weakness is its fairly lame central plot and one-dimensional secondary characters. There’s enough heart in it, however, that I can recommend it to lovers of the sword-and-sorcery genre and of Ms. Durgin’s work.
The book’s title caught my eye, as I’m sure it does for many, because the intimation is that it’s a story about the daughter of the Marvel comic book and movie superhero, Wolverine. That’s not the case, but don’t let that put you off. Ms. Durgin explains that confusion and where it came from in an afterword. It’s probably better that she didn’t go in that direction, anyway, though it’s an interesting idea.
The premise of Wolverine’s Daughter is of a warrior-huntress, Kelyn, wandering through a roughly neolithic world on a quest to find her father who abandoned her and her mother. In the process, of course, she is finding herself. Kelyn’s character is interesting enough to carry the reader through her wanderings as she fights the usual bad guys and gathers the tools and helpers she’ll need to fight the boss bad guys later. She also has to deal with being the daughter of a famous warrior that everyone admires but whom she hates.
Kelyn’s journey shows the hero archetype applying to female heroes as well as males. In doing so, Ms. Durgin does not sacrifice any femininity in Kelyn and that is possibly the best aspect of the story. Often, female heroes in this genre are female in name only.
The lead male character is Kelyn’s father, Thainn, who is the well-known warrior called “the Wolverine” (though we’re never told why). This character type is usually presented as basically misogynist, but that’s tempered here with Thainn’s respectful, sometimes wistful, attitude towards Kelyn’s mother. It’s an interesting slant that actually could have been deepened.
While I enjoyed the book overall, I did find the plot losing my interest towards the end. I think the big reveal is not big enough to drive the thriller plot as it needs to. In fact, the plot’s driving situation regarding the intrigue around Abendar and his “court” is weak. I could forgive this if other elements, such as character back-story or some twist in the genre, were stronger but they aren’t. I also think the antagonist, Petissanji, is too one-dimensional and is introduced too late into the story. He needs development with more motivation to oppose Kelyn and/or Thainn, personally.
Thainn needs more development as well. A major hingepin of this story is his relationship to Kelyn, and it falls flat because we don’t know enough about him. He is supposed to be a larger-than-life character, but that doesn’t really come out enough. Or if we had more background on his exploits, that would help. Some of the story told from his point-of-view would also strengthen his scenes with Kelyn, and make the ending stronger.
Another area that needs to be stronger is the romance thread. Now, overall, Ms. Durgin handles it as it needs to be handled, but it still suffers from being too shallow. I just didn’t believe it. I think that’s because the male character is not developed enough to be convincing. Even so, the relationship did work out in the way it needed to for the story being told.
For all that, I did like the character of Kelyn and I think she is strong enough to carry a series. She just needs some better problems to tackle and a better defined quest. Still, if you are a fan of sword-and-sorcery fiction, and of Doranna Durgin, you’ll enjoy Wolverine’s Daughter.