It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.
To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.
Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.
Today I review yet another popular one that has been a long time coming: The Gilded Wolves! Always nice to see that it is a BIPOC author putting out these amazing stories. This book was once again suggested to me by our very own Andge, and she was definitely right in predicting that I would enjoy it. She actually rated it 5 Drink Me Potions. I would be inclined to agree, but I had a couple of small issues holding me back, some of which will be discussed below.
The Gilded Wolves is a story that revolves around what is essentially a heist. But there really is so much more. The story is told through many POVs, and is basically comprised of the team that Séverin (our “main” protagonist) has put together into his employ. Each has their own unique skills to add to his quests. If this sounds a lot like Six of Crows to you, you’re right! I found many parallels, though I felt that this story had even more, and as such I enjoyed it more. The Gilded Wolves also features many historical and fantastical elements, which I thought were executed well. The main magic involved in this story is known as Forging, and is fueled by a mystical Babel Fragment (all biblical references intended).
The plot was quite excellent. I am always a fan of heists: watching all the pieces move simultaneously for the final execution of all the moving parts to attain a goal. Each individual(ish) story line was interesting and moved well, and we really got to see every character’s POV. Not everything goes smoothly and according to plan, which is a sign of something well-written. I’m not personally a fan of when things that are pre-meditated go 100% according to plan – it’s a little bit too unrealistic for me. I found the plot in this novel to have great depth and complexity, which I found to be very satisfying.
For the most part, all the characters that were introduced were quite loveable and interesting, in the sense that I cared about all their little POVs. A big loss is when there’s a whole storyline that I couldn’t care less about. None of that here! Although none of the little sparks of relationships were too surprising, I enjoyed the character development and relationship development in this book (my one gripe described later). The diversity in this novel is also great. None of the characters have the traditional Western/Causcasian names, and their names all match the general heritage from which they come, and avoided using the overly common ones too. I thought this was very good attention to detail, and very refereshing to see. The way the relationships were approached were also diverse, which was another plus in my books.
Although this book wouldn’t really be classified as historical fiction (historical fantasy I suppose), the historical elements in this novel were great. The biblical references were also well done, and I thought that the two combined really gave a stunning backdrop for this fantasy to take place. Speaking of fantasy, I enjoyed the way the “magic” (Forging) worked in this book as well. It is not overall particularly well described, as in all the details of how it works isn’t necessarily obvious, but I felt that it left a good amount up to imagination. There is a careful balance in fantasies to give enough details for the reader’s interest, yet leaving enough to the imagination to not trip up over your own descriptions, and I felt that this author did that perfectly. So kudos to her for that!
Lastly, I just wanted to cover a bit about why I didn’t want to label it the 5 Drink Me Potion masterpiece. The first one may be a bit contentious – I didn’t like the title. Yes the book does eventually make reference to the title and I could see how it is technically related. However, I am the kind of reader that often keeps the book title in mind, looking for a way that it either ties to something paramount, or how it relates to the entirety of the book. In this case…I found that this book did neither. Do any of you also do this with respect to book titles? Let me know in the comments below, maybe I’m just weird.
The second reason why I couldn’t give the max rating was one of the characters and how he reacted near the end. Without giving anything away, I just wanted to see a different ending to that particular point of the story, but I suppose this is also purely personal opinion. But anyway, those were the two main reasons why I have it rated just below perfection. Overall though, I would highly recommend this book, and I can’t wait to get started on the rest of this series.
The Gilded Wolves is a historical fantasy in which a crew (of friends) bands together for a heist to gather sacred objects (“acquisitions”). Full of complicated pasts and even more complicated decisions, this story takes place over multiple POVs as the team works together to achieve their common (and individual) goals. Full of magic and intrigue, together the team must navigate the world of ancient treasures. A combination of history, magic, biblical stories, and mythology, this book has truly got it all. I highly recommend this first book in the series for any reader interested in a historical fantasy!