With a first glance, Lord of The Wolves is attractive and immediately made me open the cover and read the first sentence. I can only assume that, as a successful middle-grade writer, Raney must be proud to have written and published 4 books. I was introduced to his first book, Jim Morgan and the King of Thieves, as a young undergraduate studying Social Science and English. After reviewing his first book, I came to appreciate the hard work it takes for one to successfully deliver a well-received and well-enjoyed story.
Lord of the Wolves is a story about journeys and maturity. We are faced with the five young pup’s difficult choices and realities as well as their family squabbles and rivalry, including the rivalry among different wolf packs. We read about competing ideas of progress — on one side, progress in the name of loyalty and heroism; on the other, progress in the name of revenge and power — challenges that five young pups must face and overcome together. From our main point of view, we see the world and the story through the eyes of a runt pup who is in a constant struggle between fear and courage — all to do with his physical abilities rather than a lack of love and loyalty. Part of this journey has to do with overcoming great difficulties by learning how to master one’s inner strengths. The story teaches us that strength comes in all shapes, sizes, and abilities; with every turn of the page, we begin to understand that there is more than one kind of strength to be valued — and Raney does a marvelous job in delivering that message.
I became increasingly surprised at the richness of detail this story possess the further that I read. Not only is the world-building something that is emblematic to that of high fantasy adult literature, it’s interwoven within every word and phrase used to describe the characters and the events. We have a religious aspect with the wolves’s interaction with the trees (“for the tree’s sake!”), a cultural aspect with the affirmation of “the ancient laws,” and a physical landscape aspect with the building of the mountains, forests, rivers, and other geological temperaments which play a large role in the five young pup’s journey. Although we also have the aspect of family and love, themes that Raney builds on from the Jim Morgan series, the writing definitely differs from the Jim Morgan series and reads as if it was written for the maturing middle-grade reader. I would not be surprised if adults picked up this book just as much as young readers would. The journey is written with a confidence and a delicacy that comes from a capable writer who is passionate in what he does.
As a book set in an in-depth world where wolves are interconnected with the Earth and have a purpose to balance out nature, Lord Of The Wolves will quickly become one of your memorable favorites. Raney does an excellent job at engaging and guiding his readers through each new chapter and through each new event. Be prepared to take your time reading Lord of the Wolves; it’s a marvel for lovers of great depth and lengthy journeys that will keep you occupied until the end.
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Read James Matlack Raney’s Interview
About The Author
James Raney grew up all over the world, in Europe, Latin America, and Africa, leaving him with a lifelong love of adventure that escapes through his daydreams and lands on the pages of his stories. He is the author of the Jim Morgan series, a two-time Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Finalist for Juvenile Fiction, and winner of the 2015 Writer’s Digest Book Award for YA/Middle Grade Fiction. He is currently working on a new novel and visiting as many schools and bookstores in Southern California as will put up with him. James loves spinning yarns he would have howled at when he was a boy, eating sushi, strumming his guitar, and wishing he had a dog to play frisbee with on the beach. Website | Facebook | Buy Lord Of The Wolves