I was brought up with wolves.
I don’t mean that literally of course – I wasn’t that lucky, and had to make do with the usual dysfunctional family. But I did spend a lot of time escaping into books from everyday life, and wolves seem to have figured quite largely in them, either as the main protagonist or as characters playing important supporting roles.
It started early on with the usual fairy tales: Red Riding Hood of course (I always considered the pro-bloodsports huntsman who hacks off the unfortunate wolf’s head to be the real villain of the story) and The Three Little Pigs. Very early on in my school life we were introduced to tales featuring Uncle Remus’ Brer Wolf, Aesop’s boy who cried wolf and learned about Romulus and Remus. A bit later I read for myself Kipling’s Jungle Book, Joan Aiken’s Wolves of Willoughby Chase, and John Masefield’s Box of Delights – the phrase “The wolves are running” still sends a delicious thrill of excitement down my spine.
Wolves didn’t vanish from my life as I got older: they still kept on popping up everywhere, in Jack London’s Call of the Wild and White Fang, our own Susan Price’s Ghost World sequence (plus others) and for the last twenty odd years in Robin Hobbs’ magnificent Seven Duchies books featuring Fitz, the Fool and Nighteyes. And you must have been taking an extended holiday on a distant planet in a galaxy far, far away if you haven’t heard of the direwolves in GRR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire (aka Game of Thrones) books …
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