Arkan of Wolves

(book review)

Ukrainian fantasy is a fascinating thing. It seems to exist, but it does not exist. That is why Pavlo Derevyanko’s book ‘Arkan of Wolves’ became a real discovery for me.

1845, the country of Bohdan Khmelnytsky survived. The plot of the book revolves around the Gray Order and its members – the Cossacks kharactenyks, who could now be described as supersoldiers, who take their power and ability to transform into wolves from nature and otherworldly being, not from serum. The main protagonist is Severyn Chornovovk (Blackwolf), he is a young kharakternyk, who wants to protect Motherland like his father Ihor Chornovovk. Together with his sworn brothers, Severyn begins the service but quickly realizes that the wolf’s path is covered with blood. “You didn’t tell me, Dad, that only blood and pain are hidden under the robes of the legend, and I realized that when it was too late.”

At first, the plot unfolds rather slowly, but thanks to this we learn better about each of the main characters. Moreover, the main plot alternates with Severyn’s flashbacks about his training before joining the Gray Order. The author skillfully shows us inexperienced wolf knights who celebrate their entry into the Order and who quickly fall into a whirlpool of events that would leave dark marks in their souls. “Severyn moved between the bloodied bodies, took a few steps, and then fell to his knees helplessly and groaned.

Regarding the characters, all of them are different, but Cossacks kharacternyks are united by the fact that they are warriors and patriots of their country. At the same time, the characters become like a family to you and you care about their fates. My favorite kharacternyk is Taurian Pylyp Olefir, who is balanced, intelligent, and not inflammatory as his sworn brothers. Farther, Pylyp always foreshadows things a few steps ahead and does not give in to emotions. “It was a hook, Taurian looked at him intently. Do you understand? Now you want to know more; you are ready to race the world by the eyes.

‘Arkan of Wolves’ has its specifics. This book may not be completely clear if you do not know Ukrainian history and culture at all. Also if Ukrainian is not your native language, you don’t understand many archaisms and dialectisms like “klyarma,” “cheres,” “osavula” etc. As well, if you are a Muscovite, then you would burn hard because instead of Russia near the eastern border of the Ukrainian Hetmanate there was the Emerald Horde.

As a result, I can rate this book at 9/10. This is fair niche literature designed for Ukrainians, but the novel is undoubtedly good and gorgeous. My rating is 4.5/5.

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