Den of Wolves is the third book in the series following the healer Blackthorn and her devoted and unlikely companion, Grim. In the first book in the series, Dreamer's Pool, (the second book is Tower of Thorns) the pair were rescued spectacularly from prison where they and others had been been falsely imprisoned by Mathuin, a vicious chieftain who dispensed torture and cruelty without mercy or justice, by Conmael, a fey nobleman. Embittered and desperate for revenge for the abuse and losses she had suffered at Mathuin's hands, Blackthorn found herself bound by promises demanded by Conmael that she return to her profession as a healer, do only good and seek no vengeance for seven years.
Since then Blackthorn and Grim have lived together as friends who help and support each other to deal with their demons for some time and have become a respected part of the community. Both are flawed and this is a large part of their appeal. This is no tale of a hero's journey in grand terms, just one of two damaged people learning to survive in a world that has not treated them well and along the way coming to value one another.
In Den of Wolves both are drawn into the complicated lives of others - a girl who struggles to speak, a wild man with crippled hands and a wealthy landowner who wants a magical house built to protect him and his family. At the same time Blackthorn and Grim's nemesis, Mathuin, is causing trouble that threatens to engulf the entire kingdom and stirring up memories of the injustices the two have endured at his hands and the danger that still stalks them.
I found this an engrossing tale of relationships - and I'm not only referring to the romantic kind although they do exist. Family, community and friendship are just as important and I loved how people related to one another in a detailed and totally believable world where reality and magic co-exist. Den of Wolves is beautifully written - one of the author's skills is to be able to write in a way that is poetic but without losing realism, something that is hard to do successfully - with well drawn characters motivated by all the usual human frailties.
Den of Wolves answers many questions that I for one have been wondering about and brings this part of the story of Blackthorn and Grim to a convincing and satisfying end. A truly enjoyable read
Den of Wolves is published by Pan Macmillan Australia in Australia and is due for release September 29 and by Roc in the USA where it is due for release on November 1.
Juliet Marillier's website is here