Robert V.S. Redick – The Red Wolf Conspiracy

My first impression after reading the back cover of The Red Wolf Conspiracy (2008) by Robert V.S. Redick was that it would focus on the ship on which events would take place. Instead the ship itself would take a lesser role and the plot took center place. In fact quite a large portion of the story takes place on land.

The fantasy elements in The Red Wolf Conspiracy, the first novel of The Chathrand Voyage, take some strange shapes. Redick introduces several quite different ideas concerning magic, myth, races and creatures and mixes them together. To me they seemed somewhat out of place with each other. They could have easily been split apart and for as far as the novel goes they form independent components. Maybe a greater picture will be drawn in the later novels. I can’t tell yet.

The story itself keeps a good pace, not too fast or too slow, switching between several points of view, although there are two main characters. Redick pushes his plot forward so that at the end of the novel he is able to get to a satisfying conclusion while providing plenty of entertainment. Redick doesn’t manage to include much character development, even within the plentiful plot development. This is not a flaw, as stories can be plot or character driven, although in my opinion he created ample opportunity to do so.

The tone of the story is somewhat grim and dark. There is no clear good or dark side and the reader is not sufficiently informed to create a clear opinion of his own. It all remains dubious which caused me a lack of attachment to one of the sides, although the main protagonists, who play a relatively minor role in the greater affairs, get a favorable view.

There are a number of quirks in the story. I already mentioned the different fantasy components. Another one relates to some of the minor characters whose behavior does not always fit and who also don’t seem to be able to live up to the status they are given. While stearing clear of clich├ęs throughout much of the novel, Redick sometimes does fall for them, which forms a strange contrast with the overall atmosphere. Especially the ending had some oddness to it as if Redick forced the plot conclusion to the story. There is a conclusion and while it is satisfactory it does not complety do so either.

The Red Wolf Conspiracy is a quite original fantasy story that certainly makes for something different. It is fairly well written and did not contain big annoyances or flaws except for the earlier mentioned quirks. I expect I will read more to find out how the rest of the story will turn out, so for that it is recommendable.

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