The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
ARC received via trade for a fair review.
Publish Date: January 15, 2019
I was fortunate enough to receive this ARC and it was one of my favorite books I’ve read this year so far! There is something about a band of misfits that join together to scheme and plot their way to victory and it calls to my soul. I love the friendships that bond together and the mix of such different personalities as they do what each of them does best to become an unstoppable force, and this book has all of that and more. It was action packed, and kept me guessing what could possibly happen next. I kept telling myself, just one more chapter, and next thing I knew it would be 3 am and I still couldn’t stop! It was worth every bit of missed sleep though because this book was such a fun and entertaining read. I have heard such great things about Roshani Chokshi and this only proved to me that I really need to read her other books because wow, this was some great writing! Consider me a fan!
Set during La Belle Epoque era in Paris, France this book takes you back in time but to a different type of Paris than you read about in the history books. This Paris is full of magic and royal bloodlines and schemes and deception. In this alternate world people are said to manifest a certain type of magical powers by the age of thirteen but not all manifest the ability to Forge. If you are able to Forge, it is either with the mind or with matter. And of course with power there is always a society set out to control such magic and in this case they go by the Order of Babel. The French faction of the Order was originally made up of four houses that swore to safeguard the location of their Babel fragment (that which controls all magical abilities). Over time greed and corruption lead to the fall of one house and the end of another when they died without an heir. The only problem is that there is an heir and he wants his return to claim his family name and the House of Vanth once again. But its not as easy as you would think. There is a lot more involved than lost legacies, and one scheme will open up a world of chaos in which we can only hope everyone will survive.
The Characters were my favorite part of this book. There is a hefty gang of them so lets start with the leader of this diverse crew, Severin. Severin is a biracial character who has been shunned since “failing” a test to prove that he is the heir to the House of Vanth. And because of this failure House Vanth fell because there was no one else to carry on the bloodline. Since then, he has become a force to be reckoned with. Severin has pulled together and unlikely crew of misfits that can each help in their own unique way and with them all he is fiercely protective and will do whatever it takes to keep them all safe. Mostly his brother in everything but blood, who he has sworn to always protect since they were small children going from one foster family to the next, trying to survive. Now that he is older though he has his own hotel business and secret “acquisition” business on the side where he for lack of a better term has been stealing magical artifacts back from the corrupt Houses in hopes that one day he will be able to prove that he is the rightful heir and with that position he could effectively protect all those he cares about with ease.
Next we have Laila, who is an indian dancer but passionate about baking. She has had a really rough past as well, and coming to this crew has found the companionship and safety that she needs. Laila has a special power due to events of her past, and through this power she has the ability to touch objects and “read” them. While reading them she sees certain things about the objects, like what the object has “seen” or who it belongs to, or how it has been used. With this ability she has become an integral part of Severin’s crew and she has found a place and a purpose.But she also has a mission of her own, to find a specific book that can help her find out who she is before its too late, because she has a secret and time is running out.
Tristan is Severin’s brother in everything other than blood. They have grown up with each other being transferred from one foster family to the next, all ending in tragedy. Its because of this that Tristan looks to Severin for safety and a home. Tristan is a botanist who has the ability to Forge materials. He is very fond of his pet tarantula named Goliath even though the rest of the crew could do without the spider. He is also the one that is called to do most of the gardening work for the remaining two Houses because he has a strong ability to Forge with plants. He is definitely the cinnamon roll of the crew. I liked the sweet and sensitive parts of his character, you can tell that he is part of the glue that holds them all together.
Enrique is our biracial Filipino and Spanish bisexual historian. He has a lot going on, obviously! Although he doesn’t have the ability to Forge he has made it his goal to become knowledgeable in all things. He isn’t just your average book worm, spending all his time researching and reading has given him the upper hand in a world where not having magic can put you at a disadvantage. Not only that, but because of his heritage he is also persecuted for being a minority as well. This book focuses on the time in France when there was a lot of colonization going on and Enrique refuses to be put down because of the color of his skin. He is extremely intelligent and because of his smarts he has made himself irreplaceable in the crew.
Then there’s our quirky Zofia. She was one of my favorite characters. She is Polish and Jewish with a bit of social anxiety thrown in the mix. She is also an amazing mathematician. She finds comfort in numbers. When her anxiety flares up in certain situations, she likes to count in order to relax. She can easily spot patterns and remember equations and likes when things are all in order. Zofia like the rest of the crew had a hard past and cares a lot for her little sister who she tries to send money and clothes to support her in any way that she can. I love that Zofia’s character has a boldness that can only come with a very practical way of thinking. She is blunt and says it like it is, no sugar coating or beating around the bush. While sometimes she doesn’t understand the joke, she still tries. And with time she comes to find that its okay to just be herself and that people love her for that.
And lastly, we have Hypnos. Being the heir in charge of one of the remaining Houses, he comes off at first as a snob. His character isn’t well liked at first not only from the reader’s POV but as we get to know his history we see that being a black leader among a group of people who are trying to purify the bloodlines in rule, he is somewhat of an outsider. His mother was a servant and so even though his blood runs true he is still seen as less than by the Order of Babel. But along the way we find that he really doesn’t have evil intentions at heart and he becomes a character that you want to stand behind.
There is a common theme that we see in this diverse group of characters and that theme is that they all want to overcome the prejudice and higher powers that are keeping them down. Whether it be gaining back your family House and title, saving your family from colonization, finding a safe place to call home, proving that your heritage isn’t all you are. They all band together to create an unstoppable force to be reckoned with. With each of them bringing their own individual talents to the group, there really isn’t anything they can’t accomplish without each other. I love the bonds that were formed throughout the book and the love that so clearly they have for each other. Its books like this that create such a beautiful definition of friendship and family that speaks to how with the support of those we love we can accomplish great things. Books where you learn to love the characters so much make the reading a personal experience in the end. You can’t help but feel for each of them and hope that their plans are successful so that they can go on to become what they have been reaching for all along.
If you liked this book:
If you liked The Gilded Wolves then I suggest reading Six of Crows. Throughout The Gilded Wolves I was constantly reminded of the group of characters that you come to love in Six of Crows and how they plot and plan and scheme their way through all their hardships in order to overthrow their power hungry enemies. Six of Crows was one of my favorites books of all time when it was published way back when and all this time I have been looking for a book to compare to the amazingess that is the Dregs. I think that this is the closest comparison I can come up with in all the years I’ve been looking for a follow up book, and finally I have found it with The Gilded Wolves. Both of these will make you want to run off and find your very own crew of unlikely heroes to join. Maybe you’ll find me there too 🙂
Is there a certain type of book that speaks to you? The kind of book where as soon as you find out the plot and it fits your taste, you just know you will love it? What are those tropes that you can’t pass up? Do you like a lot of characters in the books you read, or do you tend to like a smaller cast of characters? Let me know what you think!