The Silver Wolf

( 68 )

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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 . . .

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
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.

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

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.
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345423610
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 518,254
  • Product dimensions: 4.17 (w) x 6.86 (h) x 1.13 (d)

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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Read an Excerpt

The sun was going down.  The fiery circle shone past the acanthus-crowned columns of a ruined temple.  They cut the incandescent ball into slices of red radiance.  Almost night, the girl thought.  She shivered in the chill autumn air gusting through the unglazed casement window.

It was barred--heavily barred.  One set of bars ran horizontally, the other vertically.  They were bolted into the stone walls of the tiny room.

She knew she should close the window.  She should reach out through the bars, pull the heavy shutters shut, and seal them with the iron bolt.  But she pushed the idea out of her mind with a sort of blind obstinacy.  The sight of freedom, even an unattainable freedom, was too sweet to give up.

Not yet, she told herself, only a little longer.  Not yet.

The air that raised goosflesh on her arms was sweet to her nostrils.  Oh no, more than sweet.  Each vagrant increase in flow, each slight change in direction, each passing movement sent images to the deepest part of her mind.

She could sense the fragrance of thyme.  The delicate scent was mixed with the heavy smell of wet marble and granite.  These scents and others stood out against the tapestry of odors given off by the flowers and greenery that cloaked the ruined palaces and temples of the ancient emporium.  

The vast restless spirit of this place, the greatest of all empires, seemed at last brought to rest at the soft hand of the great green mother herself.

Regeane hadn't known what to expect of the once-proud mistress of the world when she'd come to Rome.  She didn't expect what she found.

The inhabitants, descendants of a race of conquerors, lived like rats squabbling and polluting the ruins of an abandoned palace.  Oblivious to the evidence of grandeur all around them, they fought viciously among themselves for what resources remained.  Indeed, little was left of the once-vast river of gold that flowed into the eternal city.  The gold that trickled in these days gilded the altars of the churches and the palms of papal officials.

Regeane's mother, desperate to save her daughter's soul, pawned what few jewels she had left.  The money paid the bribes necessary to obtain a papal audience and finance the equally expensive papal blessing.

Regeane had gone into the awesome presence, her body drenched in a sweat of terror.  If her ailing mother said the wrong words to the church's leading prelate, she might find herself being burned or stoned as a witch.  But, as she approached the supreme pontiff, she realized just how foolish her fears had been.

The man before her was a ruin.  Ready to be taken by age and sorrow.  She doubted if he understood much of anything said to him.  Weeping, her mother implored the intercession of God's chief minister on earth with the Almighty.  As the ever-dutiful Regeane knelt, she kissed the silken slipper and felt the withered hands pressed against her hair.  

In addition to the thick smell of incense and Greek perfume that pervaded the room, she detected the musty, dry smell of aging flesh and human decay.

God, it was powerful.  He is ready to die, she thought.  He will go to speak on Mother's behalf to God in person very soon. However, she knew this blessing, as all other blessings her mother, Gisela, had traveled so far and squandered so much of her wealth to gain, would do no good.

This was the end.  Regeane knew it.  She was frightened.  If the pope himself could not lift this strange curse from her and let her live as a woman, to which earthly power could she turn?  More to the point, to which power could her mother turn?

Gisela was fading as quickly as the only-too-human man on Saint Peter's throne.  Though a comparatively young woman, Gisela was worn down by the fruitless journeys she had taken with Regeane and by a secret sorrow that seemed to fill her mind and heart with a bottomless wellspring of grief.  

Regeane lied.  Her mother believed.  And for the first time in many years, Regeane felt the tiny woman who had traveled so far and borne so many burdens was at peace.  Regeane's lie carried Gisela through till the end.

Three days after the papal audience she had gone to awaken her mother and found Gisela would never wake again--not in this world.

Regeane was alone, staring through the bars.

She watched with greedy eyes as the sun became a half circle that faded into a glow silhouetting the tall cypresses of the Appian Way.  The deep blue autumn twilight emerged.  Then, and only then, did she turn from the window and wrap herself in an old woolen mantle and return to her pallet bed.  With the exception of the low bed and a small, covered, brown terra-cotta pot in the corner, the room was bare.  

Regeane sat on the bed, her shoulders against the stone wall, her legs dangling, head thrown back, eyes closed.  She waited silently for moonrise.  The silver disc would be lifting itself above the seven hills now.  Soon, very soon, its journey across the sky would bring it to her window where it would throw a pool of silver light on the floor.  Ignoring the cross-hatched black lines of bars, she could drink at that pool, allowed once more to breathe in the air of freedom.

The door to the outer room slammed shut.  Damnation. The girl on the bed scoured her mind for oaths.  No...curses.  As a young girl, she was never allowed to speak them, but she could think the words.  And she often did.  Oh, how she did when those two were present. There were worse things than loneliness.  Overall, Regeane felt she preferred silence and emptiness to the presence of either her Uncle Gundabald or Hugo, his son.

"I pissed blood again this morning," Hugo whined.  "Are all the whores in this city diseased?"

Gundabald laughed uproariously.  "All the ones you find seem to be.  It's as I told you.  Pay a litte extra.  Get yourself something young and clean.  At least young--so all the itching and burning a few days later are worth it.  That last you bought was so old, she had to ply her trade by starlight.  What you save on whores goes out in medicines for crotch rot."

"True enough," Hugo said irritably.  "You always seem to do better."

Gundabald sighed.  "I'm sick of instrucing you.  Next time, retain a bit of sobriety and get a look at her in a good light."

"Christ, it's cold in here," Hugo said angrily.  A moment later Regeane heard him shouting down the stairs for the landlord to bring a braizer to warm the room.

"It's no use, my boy," Gundabald told him.  "She's left the window open again."

"How can you stand it?"  Hugo grumbled.  "She makes my skin crawl."

Gundabald laughed again.  "There's nothing to worry about.  Those planks are an inch thick.  She can't get out."

"Has she ever..." Hugo asked fearfully.

"Oh, once or twice, I believe, when she was much younger.  Then I took matters in hand.  Gisela was too soft.  That sister of mine was a fine woman--she always did as she was told--but she was weak, my boy, weak. Consider the way she wept over that first husband of hers when the marriage was so abruptly...terminated."

"She divorced him?"  Hugo asked.

"Ah, yes," Gundabald sounded uneasy.  "To be sure, we told her to divorce him.  She had no choice in the matter.  Even then, everyone could see Charles' mother was becoming a power at court.  There were many well-endowed suitors for Gisela's hand.  The second marriage was much better--it made us all wealthy."

"Now all that's gone," Hugo said bitterly.  "Between you and Gisela, if our coffers have a miserable copper in them we're lucky.  You always wanted to rub shoulders with the great magnates of the Frankish realm.  In order to do that, your shoulders had to be covered with velvet and brocade.  And, oh yes, the magnates wanted to feast.  Worse than a horde of vultures, they swarmed over your household devouring everything in sight.  And like vultures after the carcass was picked clean, they departed in a cloud of stink and were never seen again.

"Whatever they missed, Gisela laid hands on, squandering it on relics, shrines, blessings, and pilgrimages, trying to lift the curse from that wretched brat of hers.  You told me to get myself something younger.  I've a good mind to pay that cousin of mine a visit...by day of course and--" Hugo screamed.  "Father, you're hurting me."

Gundabald's reply was a snarl of fury.  "You so much as touch that girl and I'll save us both a lot of trouble and expense.  I'll slice off your prick and balls.  You'll be the smoothest eunuch between here and Constantinople.  I swear it.  She's the one and only asset we have left and she--must --marry.  Hear me!"

Hugo howled again.  "Yes, yes, yes.  You're breaking my arm.  Oh, God. Stop!"

Hugo's howling ceased.  When he did speak, he sniveled sarcastically. "Who would marry that...girl?"

Gundabald laughed.  "I can name a dozen right now, who would kill to marry her.  The most royal blood of Franca flows through her veins.  Both her father and mother were cousins of the great king himself."

"And those same ones who'd kill to marry her will run a sword through both you and the girl the moment they find out what she is."

"I don't understand how you are the fruit of my loins,"  Gundabald snarled.  "But then your mother was a brainless little twit.  Perhaps you take after her."

Despite the sadistic nastiness of Gundabald's voice, Hugo didn't rise to the bait.  Most of the people around Gundabald quickly learned to fear him.  Hugo was no exception.

Gundabald continued, "You liked the way we lived well enough when we were in funds.  Vultures, eh!  That's the pot calling the kettle black.  You fucked all night, fed all day, and drank the clock 'round with the best of them.  Shut up!  Leave things you don't understand to your elders and betters.  And send for some food and wine--a lot of wine.  I want my supper, and I want to forget what's in the next room."

"It was a mistake to bring her here," Hugo said.  His voice was high and nervous.  "She's worse than ever."

"Christ Jesus!  God!"  Gundabald roared.  "Even a dumb animal has the sense to do what it's told.  Dolt with the brains of a cobblestone!  Shut up and at least get the wine.  My God!  I'm dying of thirst."

Marry, she thought listlessly.  How could she marry?  She didn't believe even a snake like Gundabald would connive at something so dangerous, or succeed if he tried.  Her mother still had a little land left in Franca, a few run-down villas.  They generated only enough money to feed and clothe the three of them.  But nothing she was heir to would be enough to attract the attention of any of the great magnates of the Frankish realm.

    As for her relationship to Charles--a rather distant connection to his mother--a king beginning already to be called the great.  The dear lady, Bertrada, had never even for one moment acknowledged Regeane's existence.  In fact, one of the things that endeared Bertrada to King Peppin the Short was that she was followed by a whole tribe of relations. They approached the court ready to swing their swords for church and king.  However, their odd wagon load of loot managed not to fall into the king's treasury.

Regeane was not distinguished--she had nothing to offer.  She was a woman--poor and not beautiful.  She didn't think there would be many seeking her hand in marriage.  Yet if Gundabald could find some poor mope to swindle, she had no doubt he would auction her off without the slightest compunction and then leave her to her fate.  Regeane just didn't think he would find anyone.  Besides, Gundabald had, as they said, a hot throat and a cold prick.  He wanted to cool the one and heat the other as frequently as possible.  To indulge himself he needed what little money came in from her estates.  He would certainly sell her, but not cheaply. It remained to be seen if he could get his price.  At the moment, she couldn't bring herself to care much one way or the other.

When the papal blessing proved fruitless, the thread of hope that had drawn her across the Alps and sustained her in the difficult journey to Rome...failed.  

Gisela's death had been the final blow.  She had been her daughter's only protection against a world that would destroy Regeane in an instant if it so much as guessed the girl's secret--and against the worst excesses of Gundabald's greed.  She had been Regeane's only confidant and companion. Regeane had no other friends, no other loves.  She was now abandoned and utterly alone.

Dry-eyed, Regeane had followed her mother's body to the grave.  She was overcome by a despair so black, it seemed to turn that bright day into bitter night.  

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.  She saw 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.

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Table of Contents

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Interviews & Essays

On Monday, July 6th, barnesandnoble.com welcomed Alice Borchardt to discuss THE SILVER WOLF.


Moderator: Welcome, Alice Borchardt! We are so pleased that you could join us this evening to discuss your new novel THE SILVER WOLF.

Alice Borchardt: I am fine. The city is kind of hot around here.


Sean from Culpepper, VA: I understand that the main character of this book is a part human/part werewolf. Can you describe her for us? Thanks!

Alice Borchardt: Regina is not part anything. She is a human who at times has the power to become a wolf. She lives in the whole spectrum. Her mind is a continuum from all the way to wolf to all the way human. What she really is, I suppose, is a human being with expanded powers. We all have animal in us. We all carry it around in our minds. She has more excess of the experience of the animal than most of us do.


Bill G. from aol.com: Do you find it difficult to make your protagonist both sympathetic and still something we would consider a type of monster?

Alice Borchardt: That is an interesting question. I don't consider anything human or animal to be monstrous. As I said, she is a human with expanded powers. Why I would call her a monster, I don't know. The only things I see as monstrous are things doing evil. Regina in the book only uses her powers to do good. I have read a great deal of sci-fi, and many are written about creatures that were once considered monstrous. But in the future, when we meet another species, would humans be considered monsters? I don't like the word "monster." Once upon a time the word monster was coined to describe human beings who developed improperly in the womb and who therefore could not live. So we first called ourselves monsters. The monster is in the eye of the beholder.


Karin Hawkins from Charlottesville, VA: I love your books, Ms. Borchardt! I just wanted to ask you what inspired you to write this book? Have you always wanted to write a book about werewolfs? Thanks!

Alice Borchardt: Like any creative work, this book had many origins. One was, I wondered when I was young how wonderful it would be to roam free in the night as a creature of the night -- roam as a bat or a wolf. And then of course, part of it is the idea of freedom and the idea of imprisonment are marked throught the book. Regina is trying to escape imprisonment in the book. Women are often prisoners. They are prisoners of cultures that seek to control them. They are often imprisoned in marriages that they can't escape. Often imprisoned by a self-concept that makes them dress and behave in ways that make them constantly uncomfortable.The whole book is about self-realization and freedom. Regina doens't just reach for freedom. She is willing to take responsibility for her behavior but she feels she must have choices.


Susan from Long Island: This is quite a departure from your earlier novels. Why did you decide on such a radical change?

Alice Borchardt: I don't consider it a departure. They were set in the same historical period. They are both about self-development, self-actualization. There were fantasy elements in the first but they were more disguised. And they were as much creatures of the imagination as the werewolf is.


Elaine Strauss from St.Louis: I love the setting of your new book. Did you have to do a lot of research on ancient Rome and the pre-Dark Ages?

Alice Borchardt: Research is sometimes a bit difficult but writing is always a pleasure. Yes I had to do research for this book. I could add that I have a profound interest in history. It is a passion of mine.


Denise from Florida: Alice, I loved your previous books and I can't wait to read this one. My question, however, is about writing. I have just finished my first manuscript and I'm searching for an agent. I plan to do a multiple submission query. Is there an amount one should not exceed when sending out queries at the same time? Thank you.

Alice Borchardt: That is a tough one! I will be frank. My sister,Anne Rice, got me my first agent. I am timid and I had no idea how to get an agent. My first novel, the agents weren't happy with. It never sold. So you have to write something that is good enough that an agent feels they can present it as publishable material. This is the difficulty with learning to be a selling writer. To learn enough to be able to write publishable material. It can't be done overnight. An agent will tell you if she or he sees what you have done as being sellable or not. I wrote five books -- never expecting the first four to sell! I was eventually able to sell the sixth. I tried with the fifth but failed. I came from a family of writers (my father, too). I was aware of the challenge of what I was undertaking when I started.


Andrew from New Mexico: Did you use a lot of the old werewolf "rules" about what they are and aren't vulnerable to (silver bullet, etc.) or did you decide to discard them and create your own rules?

Alice Borchardt: I discarded them and created my own.I used Poul Anderson's rules (a science fiction writer). He considered that lycanthropy would be inherited. I picked up on his ideas. If there could be such a thing as a werewolf, I think it would be inherited -- an inherited talent, so to speak. I also tried to make the rules consistent within the laws of nature as we understand them. Regina cannot take her clothes with her -- into the wolf state. She can't become any bigger or smaller. If she is 110 pounds as a woman, than she is 110 pounds as a wolf.


Jason from Iowa: I am interested to know, Alice, how you got started in writing. I am an Anne Rice fan and was rather surprised to find she had an older sister that was also a writer. What plans do you have for the future?

Alice Borchardt: Anne was braver than I was. She became a writer. I left home about the same time that she did. We both had to do something to earn a living. She married but I didn't so I had to take up a profession. So I became a nurse. But, the hospital situation changed, and nursing became more difficult and more unpleasant, so I began to look for something else. One day I said a prayer and the answer I received was a plot for a story in my mind. I began to write. I sat down and worked four hours every night after I came home from work. I didn't expect it to be handed to me. I had to teach myself the craft, even as I had learned the craft of nursing. I worked very hard and I produced four books in those four years. I didn't read any other book, didn't watch TV. Just wrote until I went to bed. Because I did see that I had the gift for thinking up the gift and telling them. Steven King has a wonderful thing he says about writing; he says, "Talent is like a knife. Some of us may be given a very big knife. But nobody ever gets a sharp knife. This is how you hone your talent. You sharpen your knife." Afer I had written a fourth book, my friend told me that I was very close to being published. I was right on the threshhold. I will add this for the aspiring writers. You will know when you are ready. True, my fifth book didn't sell, but it was publishable.


Bill Jones from Tacoma: I have read your book. And it was excellent! For only your third book published, it was an extremely well crafted and tight novel. Do you think that doing it by longhand, rather than computer, assisted you in such a great book?

Alice Borchardt: No, I don't think it matters how you write. This one just fell together really well. All books are different. I put it through seven revisions, and I rewrote the first four chapters.


Matt from New York: Do you feel that you are often unfairly compared to your sister, Anne Rice, since you two write completely different types of fiction?

Alice Borchardt: No, I don't feel that there are any unfair comparisons. I don't worry about that too much. If people feel like making comparisons that's okay. It is an intellecutal exercise that people like to do, but it isn't important.


Ralph from Tampa, FL: Your book is fantastic! It is also radically different from any other werewolf book I've ever read or any werewolf movie I've ever seen. Are you a fan of some of the more horror-themed werewolf books or movies?

Alice Borchardt: That goes to the heart of what I feel about it. It is like the monster question. No, I am not a fan of that type of horror. At least not in the sense that it says anything about the human or animal condition. Real wolves living in the real world are not monsters. They are part of a natural world -- a natural system of life on this planet that we don't understand very well. There are predators that kill to live as we are also predators that kill to live, too.


Jack C. from aol.com: Why do you think it's always been that werewolves are often portrayed as males? I thought it was great you used a young female as the star of this book!

Alice Borchardt: Actually, I was interested in writing about women. There is no reason why a woman can't be a werewolf. With the idea for the book came the characters and central problem in the story. The central problem is her marriage. The whole idea is more like a flash of insight. You see a landscape. If the problems don't work out I can't write the book. Perhaps I see wolves as feminine. The reason I say this is that woman have suffered many of the same problems that wolves have. Men have tried to control them, made up mythologies about them. Men have not had the slightest compunction about writing books about the female experience when they had no understanding of them. For years, men made fools of themselves writing about female sexuality. And I often get the feeling that if men could carry on the species without us, there are some times and some places where they would have tried to exterminate us as they tried to exterminate wolves in the lower 48 states.


Michael Pox from Vermont: Why do you think werewolfs are a good horror/suspense vehicle? What draws us to them?

Alice Borchardt: That is difficult to answer. We have lost our contact with the natural world. We live in air-conditioned buildings (thank heavens!), buy our food in supermarkets, our clothing is made of synthetic fibers (we have lost touch with the animals which served us in this respect), but we remain creatures created by the mother of all life. And in a way this book is a prayer that we respect the Earth, the ancient and beautiful mother of life.


Marcy from Petersburg: Are you and your sister Anne Rice close? Do you share your manuscripts with each other and talk about your book plans? Thanks for BEGUILED. I loved it!

Alice Borchardt: No, we don't share manuscripts. Writing is a very private act. While we are close, we are not alike in many ways. So our creative lives have to be separate in order for us to be creative people. It doesn't mean anything. We are very close about a lot of things but not about what we write. For you aspiring writers You can talk an idea to death, even with your own sister. Then all your energy goes into the talking and not the writing. Anne believes this, and so do I.


Bill and Marcia from Tacoma: We both thoroughly enjoyed your book. While I read a lot of gothic, my wife is not very keen on it. However, we liked this book so much that we are going to recommend it to our SF&F book reading club as a selection (that will be a hoot!).We wonder if you have read Elizabeth Moon's? Your book, like Ms. Moon's, has an appeal that crosses gender and age boundaries. Was that aspect, such broad appeal, a factor in your writing? Or was it just a story that had to be told? -)

Alice Borchardt: It was a story that I had to tell. I haven't heard of Elizabeth Moon or that book, but I am writing that down so I can take a look at that. I am always interested in other writers. I am a passionate reader!


Tina from California: Who would you consider to be your favorite authors and greatest literary influences?

Alice Borchardt: I suppose I was a big fan of Tolkien -- THE HOBBIT. And H. Ridder Haggard -- KING SOLOMON'S MINES and AYESHA THE RETURN OF SHE. And of course, Edgar Rice Burroughs, THE RETURN OF TARZAN. I just bought one of his Mars books. It is in absolutely perfect condition with his autograph! I loved all of his stuff! I gladly give the finger to all the people who raised hell with me about my taste in literature as a teenager. They kept telling me to read LITTLE WOMEN.


Lycaon from Tracy, CA: I'm so happy to see another werewolf tale out there finally. I haven't read your book yet because I want to finish a couple of your sister's works first (MEMNOCH THE DEVIL and PANDORA). I've always loved lycanthropes more than vampires. I was almost [going to] try to find Anne's email address, if she had one, and ask her to do a werewolf story. When I found out that her sister did a werewolf story, I had to buy it. So I went out on the first day it came out and bought it. I just want to ask, do you plan to make this a series? I sure hope you do.

Alice Borchardt: Well, I sure hope so. I have a contract with Del Ray to write two more books for them. I am writing one more book about HIM and you will know who that is when you finish the book.


Stephanie from Alexandria, VA: As a writer of historical fiction, what do you think would have been the most exciting era to live in?

Alice Borchardt: I would not have liked to have lived in any of the eras I write about. The lifespan was short, and the hazards for a woman were very great. I believe that we are living now in a tremendously exciting era. No other era had been this exciting. And you will find that no other era has been problem-free. They are just as great now as they ever were.


Kim from Maine: Do you think you will continue writing in the fantasy genre, or possibly break out into yet another type of fiction?

Alice Borchardt: I would like to continue writing fantasy, at least for the present. I obviously have a contract, but I enjoy fantasy more than anything else. I have always been a great reader of fantasy and sci-fiction and still am.


Pam from Los Angeles: Your books describe little-known periods of history. How do you pick these eras? In the case of SILVER WOLF, what drew you to Charlemagne's era?

Alice Borchardt: One of the things that interested me most about that era was that historians know so little about it, but it was so crucial for Western civilization. Western civ was born in the collapsing Roman empire and rising barbarian states of Europe. They created modern civilization, and we understand very little about the process.


Wise Coyote from Wolfless, Florida: If there is a message you want the readers to come away with from reading the book, what would it be?

Alice Borchardt: That we not forget that we are children of the Earth, the great mother of all life. We must learn to take care of her.


Moderator: Thank you for taking the time to field all of our questions, Alice Borchardt. We wish you continued success with THE SILVER WOLF and hope you'll join us online again. Do you have any final comments for the online audience?

Alice Borchardt: Enjoy! Above and beyond the intellectual consideration, THE SILVER WOLF is meant to be a story to be enjoyed. Have fun!


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 68 )
Rating Distribution

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(50)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 68 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 26, 2011

    A Very Interesting Read

    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!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2000

    Amazing Book, Amazing Author

    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.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2000

    TRUELY AMAZING

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 9, 2013

    Best Historical Werewolf Book Ever!!

    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

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2011

    Love these books! Disappointed that there won't be any more.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 12, 2011

    Great!!!!!

    Great read, wonderful melding of the supernatural with the historical. Surprisig and satisfying endig.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 13, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Wolf book like non other

    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!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The Silver Wolf

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2009

    Not great

    Seems that this one made it through publishing based on who the author knows rather than sheer talent. Seemed like a good premise, but the oh so predictable plot dragged on & on. Some characters were interesting but inconsistent. Did not like the "little girl" with the vocabulary & mannerisms of a jaded aristrocrat. Found several contradictions within the story line, so that i had to keep going back & re-reading to try & figure out what was going on, which was very distracting. Did not continue in the series, too frustrating to wade through.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2006

    Simply put incredible.

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2005

    What a great book!

    The best summer read I have found.Love the way the story is intertwined with werewolf lore.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2004

    A really good book!

    This book was one of the best boks I have read this year. It had romance and werewolves. What more could you ask for?

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2002

    TRUELY AMAZEING

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2000

    I AM 16 YR OLD WHO READS ALOT

    THIS BOOK WAS SO GREAT THAT ACTUALLY WAS SORRY I READ ALL OF IT SO SOON. I DEFINATELY RECCOMEND IT FOR ANY ONE WHO HAVEN'T READ IT.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2000

    this book is great, i can't wait to read Night of the Wolf

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2000

    A definite must read

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 1999

    Excellent !!!!

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2014

    Like werewolf stories

    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!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2014

    Robin

    Pads in and sniffs the ground smelling something

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2014

    Dark

    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

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 68 Customer Reviews

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