• Tina S Beier

Blood Binds the Pack (Book Review)

By Alex Wells

2018

Sci-Fi Western

Angry Robot

5 / 5 Stars


Blood Binds the Pack is a wholly engrossing, exciting, and atmospheric jaunt through a world with diverse characters, a fascinating setting, and lots of fun action.

I’m not going to give a synopsis as it will ruin the first book, so go and read Hunger Makes the Wolf if you haven't yet!


Right off the bat, I’ll say the plot, while quick-paced and cohesive, was a little disjointed to me, in that it felt like Hob took a backseat to driving the story - a lot of the story is reactionary for every character. Shinge’s story also didn’t do much for me. Yet, at the same time, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and couldn’t stop reading it. The allusion to workers’ rights issues gave the novel a sense of gravitas and it’s clear whose side we’re supposed to be on.


While the characters are a lot of fun and I liked all of them, no one really changed or developed over the course of the story - there was so much going on no one got a real chance. Hob and Mag’s main arcs were completed in Hunger Makes the Wolf, so in this novel, there wasn’t much we learned about them. That being said, I cared about all the characters and I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with them again. This novel was a direct continuation of the first, so all the main characters are back, including my favourite: the Bone Collector.


Hob’s trajectory with the Bone Collector was one of my favourite aspects of the novel, as their odd and compelling relationship built on that from the first book. Wells did a great job driving the tension between them and showing how they complement one another. This is a great novel about why you should never hesitate in telling someone how you feel.


Yet, despite the character development being a little static and the plot less compelling, the setting, prose, and readability (how much I was entranced by the novel) were a full five stars.


The setting is utterly fantastic with so many interesting facets. The planet itself is fascinating in not only its geographical and physical aspects but the details of the world-building were intricately woven. The Weathermen and how TransRift uses them, and how this relates to the rest of the universe, was expanded upon from what we learned in the first book, and the way magic was incorporated was believable and plot-relevant. Wells also manages to impart this sci-fi western with lovely prose that was a strange but enthralling mix of visceral and ethereal - it suited the story and the setting. The dialogue felt authentic to the characters but wasn’t annoying in its twang, and the battle scenes were fun and exciting. I really loved this book. I couldn’t put it down!


I recommend it to people who liked Ten Low, The Gunslinger, and Firefly.


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