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The Wolves of Time

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Tony Bass

May 1, 1995, 3:00:00 AM5/1/95
For a millenium the Mennen have been spreading across Europe, driving
wolves towards extinction. But there is a legend, the story of the
Wolves of Time, that begins to be told in _Journeys to the Heartland_ by
William Horwood, a long novel of about five hundred pages.

The principal characters are wolves, the handful or two of individuals
who travel from their first home territories at the four corners of
Europe to meet at the heartland in the centre and begin to form a pack.
For the most part, Mennen are seen only collectively by their effects,
but there are occasions with two individual representatives, a Mann, and
the Huntermann.

At first I read in doubt, until a hundred or so pages into the story
when some of the words began to have weight,

Out of this dry land
This wolf will be great,
A leader of leaders,
A maker of gods
And those of Segundera
And of Aragon
And of the high Cabrera
Will look to him,
And weep at news of his passing,
For he was of them
And their own.

as the story that began in the material world begins to connect to the
other side, the living world that is this one forever,

One dawn Lounel knew a rabbit would round a rock, and that it would
be white on its left flank and that when it startled at his attack it
would veer right, then right again, then stop, then start and chase
off to the left before doubling back. All these things Lounel knew
before the creature first appeared at the spot where Lounel, who had
hardly moved at all, had been waiting to take it: waiting, as he
felt, in that spot for that rabbit from the very start of time.

That was the first occasion when Lounel knew with certainty what
would be.

What words need a wolf use to describe such certainty?

A note by the publishers, HarperCollins, says

We hope you will enjoy _Journeys to the Heartland_ - the first volume
of William Horwood's WOLVES OF TIME trilogy. The second volume -
_Wanderers of the Wolfways_ is already in production, with the third
and final volume - _Seekers at the WulfRock_ to follow soon

"in production" means "not yet published", I think. I found this first
volume worth reading, and look forward to the rest, but it is too soon
to say whether this will be special for me as was _Duncton_.

I have written previously about the _Duncton_ books of William Horwood,
that I found so special. I have not read any other of the author's
novels, cursory inspection suggesting more human beings than animals in
them. But the new book is almost all animal viewpoints again, and it
was a pleasant surprise to find the hardback in the lending library so
soon after publication.

There is no connection between WoT and D, but the question of
comparisons is almost inevitable. For wolves, the social structure is
individual-and-pack rather than individual-and-community. There is
direct involvement of human beings. In early exposition the theology is
pagan and reincarnate, but later development may transcend. Material
accidents differ, but the spiritual journey is one. Beyond that I feel
it would be premature to draw any conclusions.

One poster spoke of finding excessive the inflicted hurt and pain in the
_Duncton_ books (and so it is). I advise that the wolf story is
unlikely to be found any different in this respect. My own view is that
something of this is inherent in the theme and style, the dark and light
parts that I, or the author, see on looking in a mirror. The business
of _Duncton_ is redemption and reconciliation.

Tony Bass

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