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The Silver Wolf

The Silver Wolf

4.6 73
by Alice Borchardt

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Into decadent Rome of the Dark Ages comes Regeane, an enigmatic young woman distantly related to Charlemagne. But the blood she has inherited from her murdered father makes her much more than a child of royalty. Regeane is a shapeshifter—woman and wolf, hunter and hunted—possessed of preternatural agility and strength, primal memories extending back


Into decadent Rome of the Dark Ages comes Regeane, an enigmatic young woman distantly related to Charlemagne. But the blood she has inherited from her murdered father makes her much more than a child of royalty. Regeane is a shapeshifter—woman and wolf, hunter and hunted—possessed of preternatural agility and strength, primal memories extending back thousands of years, and senses so keen they can pierce the veil of death itself.

Betrothed to a barbarian lord she has never seen, Regeane is surrounded by enemies. But outside the gates of Rome, baying at the moon, there is a mysterious dark wolf whose scent awakens the animal in Regeane. Now, as deadly plots tighten like a noose around her neck, Regeane must fight to live with dignity as the proud creature she is: civilized and savage, partaking of both, yet infinitely more than either . . .

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Alice Borchardt turns away from her romantic fiction and takes a cue from her sibling Anne Rice in her wickedly delightful werewolf fantasy tale, The Silver Wolf. Carnage, romance, a cast of thousands, and lots of fur — what more could you possibly want in a fantasy novel? Author Douglas Clegg takes a look at this wild genre-breaker, which may be the breakout Borchardt has long deserved.

Alice Borchardt has written some lyrical fiction in her novels Beguiled and Devoted, but with this new novel, she has what is often called in the trade a breakout book. This usually means a book that is the best, biggest, most expansive novel from a writer who has yet to break into the bestseller lists. With The Silver Wolf, Borchardt has, I believe, just reached critical mass with her fiction.

The Silver Wolf is a richly textured, lush epic of history, romance, and fantasy, all interwoven like a beautiful tapestry. This is a novel not to be missed, particularly if you're a fan of Borchardt's sister, Anne Rice. Although Borchardt definitely has a voice distinct from — and less horrifying than — that of her more famous sibling, The Silver Wolf is a novel that, like The Vampire Lestat or Rice's recent Pandora, is ripe and delicious in its panoramic view of history and the fantastic beings who inhabit it. A thread of strong romance flows through The Silver Wolf, despite its supernatural trappings. For lovers of romantic paranormal fiction, werewolf lore, and ancient history toldwith bravado, Borchardthas written a winner.

The Rome of the Dark Ages is gorgeous in its decay and dying glamour. Regeane, a stunning waif, has a blood legacy of both royalty and supernatural darkness. Her parents were cousins to the Emperor Charlemagne, which is as much a curse for her as it is a blessing. There are those who will use her for political means by forcing a marriage that she does not want. But a lycanthropic tendency also runs in her blood: Regeane is a werewolf. Her uncle, Gundabald, who had a hand in murdering Regeane's werewolf father, treats her as a prisoner in order to ensure that she will marry according to the royal decree. Gundabald's brutality toward her is matched by that of the Roman world Regeane finds herself in after her protective mother's death. But even on this journey and struggle that becomes her life, as she learns both the good of her wolf self and the evil of the human world, she can't deny the strong chemistry she feels with the barbarian she is meant to marry.

Lest you think that The Silver Wolf then descends into scenes of carnage, rest assured, it is first and foremost a fantasy tinged with romance in a historical setting. A great many scenes of life in the raw do occur in this story, but the nobility of the human and animal spirits that emerges lifts the reader from the darkness of Regeane's life. Regeane is torn by loyalties, both to family and within her own soul, but what takes over this novel is its baroque atmosphere and the passion and obligation that pull at Regeane. True love among her own kind is her only possibility for happiness and finding her place in the world.

A cast of thousands populates this epic novel, and Borchardt lovingly sketches the dozen or so of the most fascinating of them. The outcasts who befriend Regeane, including Antonius, the leper, and Elfgifa, the young Saxon child Regeane cares for, enrich this tale. But the character that comes most brilliantly to life is Maeniel, the barbarian lord who must accept the marriage with the penniless Regeane for his own political purposes.

This is fantasy at its best, and storytelling that is vivid and engaging. I loved this book, and for those who relish a swashbuckling story of the supernatural, Alice Borchardt delivers. Her history is colorful and lively, and her supernatural love story is enchanting. Highly recommended.
— Douglas Clegg

Douglas Clegg is the author of numerous horror and suspense novels, including Dark Of The Eye and The Children's Hour. His recent critically acclaimed short story "O, Rare and Most Exquisite" can be found in the anthologyThe Year's Best Fantasy And Horror: Volume 10.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Borchardt spices her usual recipe for breathy historical romance (Devoted, etc.) with a generous pinch of the supernatural. Regeane is a secretive shapeshifter living in Rome at the end of the Empire's decline. Distantly related to Charlemagne, she becomes a pawn between the French and Italy's scrappy Lombards when she is betrothed to Maeniel, guardian of a passage through the Alps who is sympathetic to the French king. Intrigues and counterplots abound as Maeniel speeds his way to retrieve his reluctant bride and Regeane lends her supernatural powers to curing the leprous Antonius, whom the Lombards hope to use to discredit his father, Pope Hadrian, and turn the Roman citizens against Charlemagne's advancing Catholic army. In Regeane, whose woman and wolf selves often spar contentiously with one another, Borchardt finds the perfect metaphor for the once opulent Roman civilization, now hostage to its bestial appetites. She elaborates the decadent excesses of the time with gleefully vivid descriptions of gluttonous banquets, grotesque leper colonies and violent lusts sated both on the battlefield and in the bridal bed. Readers who like their fantasy dusted with gritty realism and who can forgive anachronistic modern dialogue in a period melodrama will find themselves indulged with more than a few twists to this werewolf tale. (July) FYI: The galley to Silver Wolf carries a note to "Dear Reader" from Borchardt's sister, Anne Rice, stating that "it is with immense joy that I introduce to you a daring and vibrant new voice on the female literary frontier"--although the novel is Borchardt's third.
VOYA - Mary Arnold
The Dark Ages were truly dark for women, whose lives were inextricably bound by custom and law to the control of a male-whether it be a husband, father, or master. In an epic blend of history and fantasy, Borchardt explores the decadence and splendor of ancient Rome through the eyes of teenage female werewolf Regeane. Betrothed by command of the high king Charlemagne to a barbarian lord she has never seen; betrayed and held captive by a brutal and ruthlessly ambitious uncle; and living in fear that that most high authority, Holy Mother Church, will burn her at the stake if her secret is revealed, Regeane must wend her way through the dangers of plots and counterplots. And always, the siren song of the wolfish blood boils just below the surface of everyday actions, animal instincts that make her vulnerable to the lure of a mysterious dark wolf that haunts the borders of Regeane's "civilized" world. Similar in feel to Klause's Blood and Chocolate (Delacorte, 1997/VOYA August 1997), with its theme of the many hidden faces and sudden changes common to adolescence and its exploration of female self-knowledge and power, this book gets off to a much slower start that may have teen readers restless to see a werewolf or two before the first hundred pages. The story has an intellectual rather than emotional tone, and the intricate weaving of historical detail is reminiscent of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's historical vampire stories or Borchardt's sister Anne Rice's recent Pandora: New Tales of the Vampires (Knopf, 1998). The cover art, with its glowing golden eyes, may draw in die-hard werewolf fans but reluctant teen readers may find this book hard going, and the supernatural impact subdued. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, Broad general YA appeal, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Library Journal
This wolf is a werewolf, running loose in Rome at the time of the Dark Ages. What's more, this wolf is a woman, possessed of royal blood and in need of her wits as she evades diabolical plans to marry her off or turn her over to the Church for burning. Expect lots of publicity on this one.
Kirkus Reviews
The third and best yet by Anne Rice's older sister, following the two-volume, ninth-century saga of Devoted (1995) and Beguiled (1997). This time, however, Borchardt enters bona fide Rice territory, centering her tale on the rise of a werewolf clan during the last gasp of the Roman empire and the rise of Charlemagne. (Recall that sister Anne's current bestseller, Pandora, is a vampire historical also set in Rome.) Borchardt's version of the immortal city includes sewage systems, glass factories, thieves' markets, and much more. Adding an extra fillip to her tale, Borchardt's teenage female werewolf, Regeane, has an animal nature perpetually simmering at the surface of her character (like many an adolescent) while she goes about her daily life in human form. Young Regeane is the daughter of a warrior werewolf who was killed by a crossbolt when he was a man. Adopted by her uncle Gundabald, the girl is kept in a tower under strict lock and key, since each and every night she is transformed into a silver wolf. Gundabald wants to marry her off to royalty, for Regeane can claim royal blood on her mother Gisela's side. But, actually, Gundabald and his sister Gisela had themselves murdered Regeane's father. Regeane does, at the command of Charlemagne, become engaged to wealthy barbarian lord Maeniel, but before she marries she escapes from the clutches of her uncle. A series of adventures leads her through episodes involving lepers, a young slave girl, the Pope Hadrian, and the courtesan Lucilla. Lucilla, who has eyes for the virgin, also has some secrets of her own: She, too, is a werewolf—and the mother of Maeniel. Borchardt reaches descriptive and dramaticpeaks with Regeane's vulpine supersenses as she noses about Rome by night, reading the dead city's skin and air. Top-flight fantasy.

From the Publisher
"A daring and vibrant new voice on the female literary frontier . . . The Silver Wolf is a stunning initiation into a dark and dazzling realm."
—Anne Rice

"A fascinating tale—brutal, ribald, engrossing, poignantly beautiful."
—Johanna Lindsay, New York Times bestselling author

"Mesmerizing . . . Astounding . . . A lush, richly crafted tale . . .With intricate detailing and hypnotic prose, Alice Borchardt unleashes a new world to readers."
Romantic Times

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.42(w) x 9.26(h) x 1.21(d)

Read an Excerpt

Now a faint silver shadow appeared against the blackness of the floor.

There is nothing left but moonlight, Regeane thought. Drink it, drown in it. She will never reproach me. I will never see her tears again or suffer because of them. Whatever may become of me, I am alone.

She stood, stripped off her dress and shift, and turned toward the silver haze.

The gust from the window was icy, but pleasure wouldn't exist without the sharp bite of pain. Even the brief flash of orgasm is too intense to be absolutely pleasurable. The cold caress was seduction, the quick cruel touch that precedes pleasure.

Regeane went forward boldly, knowing that in a moment she would be warm. Naked, she stepped into the silver haze.

The wolf stood there.

Regeane was, as wolves go, a large wolf. She had the same weight as the girl, over a hundred pounds. She was much stronger than in her human state--lean, quick, and powerful. Her coat was smooth and thick. The pelt glowed silver as it caught the moonlight on its long guard hairs.

The wolf's heart overflowed with joy and gratitude. Regeane would never have admitted it in her human state, but she loved the wolf and, papal blessing or not, she would never let her go.

From the bottom of her heart, she reveled in the change. Sometimes, while in her human state, she wondered who was wiser, she or the wolf. The wolf knew. Growing more beautiful and stronger year after year, the wolf waited for Regeane to be ready to receive her teaching and understand it.

The silver wolf lifted herself on her hind legs and, placing her forepaws on the window sill, peered out. Shesaw not just with eyes as these maimed humans did, but with sensitive ears and nose.

The world humans saw was like a fresco--dimensionless as a picture painted on a wall. To be believed in by the wolf, a thing had to have not only image, but smell, texture, and taste.

Ah God...how beautiful. The world was filled with wonder.

The rain must have come in the evening. The wolf could smell the damp, black earth under the green verdure as well as mud churned up by horses' hooves in a nearby lane.

The woman hadn't noticed it. She'd spent the day wallowing in her grief, mourning her mother. For this she earned a brief flash of contempt from the wolf. But the wolf was too much a creature of the present to dwell on what was past. She was grateful for each moment. And this was a fine one.

Usually in Rome, the scent of man overpowered everything else. The effluvia of stale perspiration, the fetid raw sewage floating in the Tiber, the stench of human excrement which--even by comparison to that of other animals--is utterly vile. All these filled the air and pressed in around her. Overlaying them all were the musty omnipresent evidence of human dwellings--stale wood smoke, damp timber, and stone.

But not so tonight. The sharp wind blew from the open fields beyond the city, redolent of dry grass and the sweetness of wild herbs growing on the hillsides near the sea.

Sometimes the fragrant winds from the Campagna carried the clean barnyard smells of pig and cattle, and faintly, the enticing musk of deer.

The night below was alive with movement. The cats that made their homes among the ruins sang their ancient songs of anger and passion among forgotten monuments. Here and there the slinking shape of a stray dog met her eye; occasionally, even furtive human movement. Thieves and footpads haunted the district, ready to prey on the unwary.

Her ears pricked forward and netted what her eyes could not see--the barely perceptible thump of a barn owl's wings in flight, the high, thin cries of bats swooping, darting, foraging for insects in the chill night air.

The rush and whisper of the hunters and the hunted, silent until the end. The agonized death cry of a bird, taken in sleep on the nest by a marauding cat, rent the air. The chopped-off shriek of a rabbit dying in the talons of an owl followed.

Those sounds and smells, and many others, were woven together by her wolf senses into a rich fabric of unending variety and everlasting delight.

The silver wolf dropped her forepaws to the floor with a soft, nearly inaudible cry of longing. Then her lips drew back from her teeth in a snarl at the sound of voices in the other room.

Hugo and Gundabald ate. The wolf's belly rumbled with hunger at the smell of roast meat. She was hungry and thirsty, longing for clean water and food.

The woman warned her night side to rein in her desires. She would get nothing.

The wolf replied. For a moment they were both gone--the woman from her prison, the wolf from her cage. The wolf stood beside a clear mountain lake. The full moon glowed silver in the water. All around the lake, black trees were silhouetted against mountains glittering white with unending snow.

The memory faded. The wolf and woman stared at the locked door.

The wolf and woman both understood imprisonment. Regeane had spent most of her life behind locked doors. Long ago, she'd learned the punishing futility of assaults on oak and iron. She ignored what she couldn't change and bided her time.

They were speaking of her.

"Did you hear that?" Hugo asked fearfully. Hugo's hearing was better than Gundabald's. He must have heard her soft cry of protest.

"No," Gundabald mumbled through a mouthful of food. "I didn't and you didn't either. You only imagined you did. She seldom makes any noise. That's one thing for which we can be grateful. At least she doesn't spend her nights howling as a real wolf would."

"We shouldn't have brought her here," Hugo moaned.

"Must you start that again?" Gundabald sighed wearily.

"It's true," Hugo replied with drunken insistence. "The founders of this city were suckled at the tits of a mother wolf. Once they called themselves sons of the wolf. Ever since I found out about her I've often thought of that story. A real wolf couldn't raise human children, but a creature like her..."

Gundabald laughed raucously. "A fairly tale made up by some strumpet to explain a clutch of bastard brats. She wasn't the first and won't be the last to spin a yarn to protect herself."

"You won't listen to anything." Hugo said petulantly. "She's gotten worse since we came here. Even while her own mother was dying she..."

The silver wolf's lips drew back. Her teeth gleamed in the moonlight like ivory knives. Even in the wolf's heart, Hugo's words rankled.

The smoldering anger and the brief, sad rebellion were pointless. The locked door stood between her and her tormentors. The barred window remained between the magnificent creature and freedom.

She began to pace as any caged beast will, obeying the wordless command: Stay strong. Stay healthy. Stay alert. Fear not, your time will come.

Meet the Author

Alice Borchardt shared a childhood of storytelling with her sister, Anne Rice, in New Orleans. A professional nurse, she has also nurtured a profound interest in little-known periods of history. She is the author of Devoted and Beguiled. She lives in Houston.

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The Silver Wolf 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
Sinclair_San_Tonava More than 1 year ago
Going in apprehensive because of some of the reviews, I got much more than I expected from this book. It was complex, interesting, and very emotional at times. It did not sugarcoat anything like passion or the harsh realities of society at the time, and though the main character was a mythical creature, she was portrayed as very real. This is by far the best werewolf story I have ever read, and I highly recommend it. However, if you are expecting a fantasy book, this is not for you. Though it does have some humor, it is a very mature book; not like a fancy romance novel or deep-brooding-teenage-soul book. It will make you uncomfortable at times, and there are some points where I had to go back and reread to completely understand what was going on, but overall it was fantastic!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Before I was done with the first page I knew this would be a great book. The author's prose was magnificent. Ms. Borchardt has a way of opening a portal into another universe and letting you see not only the beauty of life, but of death as well. Borchardt, as well as her sister, Anne Rice, are the best modern day authors. The imagery and characters are enough to hold you in rapture. The new take on the werewolf, and the development of Regeane was well done. This book has all you could possibly want:history of Rome in the Dark Ages, werewolves, great characters, amazing fighting scenes, and lively prose.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In this novel of emotional exploration and self discovery Ms. Borchardt has opened a new realm of ficton that will intrigue readers of popular ficton/fantasy/horror. This novel is amazing well written and thought out with a story line that just won't quit. I especially enjoyed the historical setting and the accuracy with which it was portrayed. Ms. Borchardt has stepped out of the shadows and taken center stage from her sister, Anne Rice, who has not exhibited such talent since THE MUMMY (or RAMSES THE DAMNED) and MEMNOCH THE DEVIL.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So ya didnt expect the book to veer the way it did but i cant say i didnt like it . Actually im not sure if i liked it or loved it.. its kind of this inbetween thing. But i did enjoy reading it.. tell u it caught be by suprise a few times which doesnt usually happen . However it did and i can say that i ENJOYED IT. So if ya get the chance give it a read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw this book years ago in a run down antique store and i loved the cover and the description sounded interesting once I started reading it i couldn't put it down. It shows ancient Rome like I've never seen it before, it is very descriptive about architecture and food, this book really made me hungry a lot. It is a wonderful book and I reccomend it to everyone
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Details on the scene. Kind of trails on.. but very good over all story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love these books! Disappointed that there won't be any more.
Hana Silverlieb More than 1 year ago
Great read, wonderful melding of the supernatural with the historical. Surprisig and satisfying endig.
Kyara More than 1 year ago
I've read this book once before and lost it so I ordered it online since the store didn't carry it. I fell in love with how everything was described. "The Silver Wolf" is, by far, the best werewolf book I have ever read. The details, the emotions. If there were any truth to the myth, it would be as it is in this book. It might've started off a bit slow in the beginning but it soon shot up.This world is truly filled with unrivalled magic! Alice Borchardt, rest her soul, did an amazing job. She, like her sister, Anne Rice, are brilliant geniuses. I can't wait to read the two books that follow!
book-chameleon More than 1 year ago
The Silver Wolf's plot was original and appealing to any non-fiction fanatic. Alice Borchardt has a writing style all her own in this first book of the trilogy. The characters are realistic (except for the shape-shifting of course) and mostly enjoyable although there are a few that are worthy of a good ass-kicking. However, in the end all is well and it leaves you with a touching end open for the next book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was one of the best books that I have read in a long time, I was completely entrapped, reading the book in two days. This was my first book by Alice Borchardt and I had to read all of her others! Great summer read, I recommend it to all of you who enjoy the sensuous side of fantasy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The best summer read I have found.Love the way the story is intertwined with werewolf lore.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was one of the best boks I have read this year. It had romance and werewolves. What more could you ask for?
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book is a real new way of looking at werewolves, from their point of veiw. This book is a must read of werewolf fans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Silver Wolf was awesome. I got it on my 14th birthday and when i saw Night of the Wolf on the back flap, i just knew i had to get it. For those of you who haven't shared adventures with Regeane i suggest you do so quickly. Once you do, i assure you you won't forget it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This intriguing erotic tale of Regeane was a perfect blend of fiction and romance. The characters were as real as breath and captured you with their struggles and passion. This author brings their world to you in an unique and admirable way. This was by far one of the best novels that i've ever read, it's definately the most intriguing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a very good story! It was full of surprises. The story was captivating and held the attention. The sequel (which is actually a prequel) 'The Night of the Wolf' is not as good, but it will help answer some question from this story. If you have not read it I highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Crouches down waiting for her prey to arrive then she sees it and pounces right at it attacking it sinking her teeth into it using her paws to take it down finally it's dead she had done a perfect job killing her prey for her pups so that they may eat so they can become as strong as her and become great leaders some day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was one of the best books I have ever read. If you love Anne Rice you will love this book!
dragon_dreamer More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books, I've read it over and over. The storyline and writing is excellent and it takes place during a very interesting time in history, shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire. If you are a fan of fantasy and historical fiction I would definitely recommend it. However, it does contain strong language and sexual content so it is not for everyone, especially younger readers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book- for werewolf lovers (like me) anxious to experience the thrill of the hunt, try Skyrim V and go to Jorrvaskr in Whiterun. Join Companions- you become werewolf eventually and can eat human hearts!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
He crouches seeing a deer and he gives a loud fierce growl before jumping and attacking the deer his large teeth sinking into its neck paws pulling it down, as he kills it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago