Edition: Gollancz, 2009
Review number: 1457
This excellent fantasy novel tells of the voyage of the great ship Chathrand on a mission apparently to seal a peace between two empires which have been involved in a cold war for decades. But there are plots woven by several of those involved in the journey, from the Emperor himself downwards, and the story is mainly about the workings of the plans of the different factions aboard the ship. There are several major characters who take turns, chapter by chapter, to provide the narrative viewpoint (a common device in the fantasy genre); all of them are innocents in the machinations of others. One group aboard, the Ixchel, seem to be remnants of the sort of idea that sparks the writing of a novel: suppose Gulliver's Liliputians were taken from their home to be zoo exhibits, escaped, and spent the next few centuries trying to avenge the kidnapping - what would they be like?
The fantasy world in which the story is set is a richly realised one with technology approximately equivalent to the real eighteenth century (though it would have been impossible to build a ship the size of the Chathrand then - and the ship is old, built with knowledge lost by the time of the story's beginning). This means that The Red Wolf Conspiracy draws heavily on the many sea stories set during the Napoleonic Wars, particularly those less fenced in by the boundaries of the officers' quarters.
Exciting, fascinating; I am pleased that this is in fact the first of a series, because that promises much pleasure to come.
My rating: 8/10.