I work at a library and occasionally we get advanced previews of upcoming books.  Most of the time I pass them by but not this time.  First the cover got my attention then summary on the back sealed the deal for me.  I have always loved animal stories like Watership Down, The Sight, Wind in the Willows so I was expecting to like Dorothy Heart’s The Promise of the Wolves.  I did – in fact I couldn’t put it down.  Even more exciting is that this book is the first one in a trilogy.  I can’t wait for the second book! Ever since an old neighbor introduced me to her companion, a wolfdog named Raina, I have been fascinated with wolves.  Keen hunters, devoted family members, intelligent teachers – it is no wonder why these animals have been both revered and feared by many. 

Dorothy Heart weaves a tale starting 40,000 years ago that allows us to become one with the wolves. She first pulls you into the story by showing the powerful relationship that exists between wolves and humans.  And therein lies the problem.  The wolf packs have rules – first you are never to consort with humans, nor are you supposed to kill a human unprovoked.  Finally you are never supposed to let a mixed breed pup live.  Fast-forward about 25,000 years, Nessa, a wolf mother is about to introduce her pups to the pack for acceptance.  Unfortunately, acceptance won’t be offered to these pups as they are mixed bred and therefore must be killed.  One though, Kaala, is spared when the Greatwolves intervene.  Though spared, Kaala finds herself struggling to become accepted and part of the pack. The male leader pack dog, Ruuque mistrusts her and the others quickly follow suit. He doesn’t let her participate in hunts so she must fend for herself, prove her worth Kaala is accepted by two other young wolves, Marra and Azzuen and together as the three grow they learn the ways of being a wolf. It certainly doesn’t help her case any that for some reason she is drawn to humans and this feeling only grows stronger after she saves a small human girl from drowning.  Since some of the wolves do not want her around, Kaala starts spending more and more time with the human she saved.  This is of course against everything she has learned about being a wolf.  Conflict, both physical and emotional was just a matter of time but the decision on who she stands by, the humans or her pack mates will be a issue that I can see playing out in the rest of the books to come.