Thistle (thistle_chaser) wrote,

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Book #15 of 2016: The Tempering of Men

The Tempering of Men by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette
Rating: Okay (Hated-Disliked-Okay-Liked-Loved)

I really, really wanted to like this book. I love the idea of being bonded to giant telepathic wolves. I love the word the books are set in. I love how natural and accepted gay sex was in this book. But I just couldn't like this book. I stopped reading it later than perhaps any other book I've read: I reached 92% (one more night of reading and I would have finished it). I was just so beyond caring at that point though, I wanted to spend my very limited reading time on something I might like better.

Tempering of Men felt more like an in-between step between books instead of a book itself. There was no big plotline through the book, just a couple smaller things happening (most of which I didn't like/didn't work for me). There were three POV storylines. In order of how much I liked them:

1) The "love" (like?) story. Usually these wolf groups have one alpha male and alpha "female" (really a man), but in this case there were two alpha males and both of them loved the alpha female... but he was straight and didn't love either of them back. So, through time, the two alpha males realized they loved each other. In a book series where I still, after two books, had no idea who most of the characters were, it was unsurprising that the subplot with the characterization was the one I liked best.

2) Some new character who wasn't in book 1, met the world's elf race. As I never liked the elf race, this really was not at all interesting to me.

3) Half of the wolf group traveled south and met... the Roman Empire. It had a slightly different name, as everything in this book did from the real world version, but it was still the Roman Empire. While there had been nothing in the previous book that said there weren't other parts of the world other than the cold north where the wolf men lived, this felt like it came completely out of left field, and I really did not enjoy it at all.

Usually I rail against books that include a list of who characters are and a glossary of made-up words, but this book needed those. However, instead of including them, I wish the authors had instead written in ways that hadn't made them necessary. Character names were 10-20 letter long, appeared mostly random order to English-only me, and more often than not, started with V. At the 90% point of the second book, I encountered a name and had no idea if it was even a wolf or a man, and that was the final straw.

I wanted to like this book. Apparently I enjoy the "companion animal" genre (which makes sense, really). Sadly this one just didn't work for me. I never hated it (thus my "okay" rating for it), but I ever liked it either. I haven't deleted the third book from my Kindle yet, but I don't expect that I'll be reading it anytime soon.

Currently reading: The Fate of Mice, by Susan Palwick. Loving it!
Tags: 2016 books, book review, book: the tempering of men
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