The Wolf King

Written by Ann Turnbull

Bronze Age Britain. ‘We are the Wolf Clan. Long ago our people swore brotherhood with the wolves.’ But now Coll’s tribe is under attack by their former friends, led by the terrifying Wolf King, a masked horseman dressed all in black. Two people have already disappeared: Coll’s brother Ruadh, whose inadvertent killing of a wolf began the present feud, and the travelling smith, Arven. Desperate to find their missing kinsmen, Coll and Grayla, Arven’s daughter, go in search of them.

Can they find a way to break the power of the Wolf King?

Ann Turnbull has written over thirty books for children and been short-listed for both the Guardian and Whitbread children’s fiction prizes, and The Wolf King does not disappoint. I found it gripping. Conn must learn to discard his prejudices and judge people for what they are; he must also face his deepest fears and take responsibility for his actions – and he is tested to the uttermost.

The book reminds me of Rosemary Sutcliff’s Warrior Scarlet, another story of a world on the cusp: the Bronze Age giving way to the Iron Age. Ann Turnbull shows us how the smith, Arven, is respected by the various communities he visits. Not only does he bring news but he also knows the secrets of working the new metal, iron – a metal regarded with both awe and superstition by the Wolf Clan. We also meet the indigenous ‘Dark People’ who still use stone tools. Once they owned all the land but now they have been ousted by the Bronze Age tribes and are either enslaved or live in the forest.

The Wolf King would be a good introduction to the dawn of history and a world in transition.

– Elizabeth Hawksley

The Wolf King is set a long time ago, at the beginning of the Iron Age. The main character is Coll, and he sees something in Grayla, the blacksmith’s daughter that no-one else can see. It isn’t a frightening story, the wolves sometimes taunt the humans, but they aren’t scary. In the winter, the community moves because it is too cold where they are. I wouldn’t have liked to live with them, it felt very bleak and uncomfortable. This is a very action-packed story and it makes you feel like you are there in the cold mountains. I enjoyed it, but I thought the story moved too fast at the beginning, and I would have liked to get to know Cole and Grayla better first. I think 9-10 year olds who like a bit of action and suspense would like this book.

– Minna McNulty, aged 9