What do an outcasted engineer, botanist, ignored historian, dancer, and a hotelier have in common? On the outside, nothing. But internally they are bound by love, fear, and a desire to outrun pieces of themselves.
The Gilded Wolves is book one of a trilogy by Roshani Chokshi. If you were searching for a book that brings treasure hunting together with clues that can only be answered by math, history, and science, then you have come to the right book. Or if you wanted a really great fantasy novel that has elements of grandeur and treasure hunting, no fear. This is still your book.
Synopsis: (from inside cover)
“It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure hunter and wealthy hotelier Severin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Severin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.
To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Severin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not in blood.
Together they will join Severin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history — but only if they can stay alive.”
I was originally drawn to the series because of the cover of book two in the trilogy – The Silvered Serpents. But I knew that I needed to start with book one in order to get a sense of the world building and the elements of magic that would be entwined with this narrative, and I am happy that I did.
The Gilded Wolves is told from multiple points of view (each limited 3rd person) where every chapter switches between characters. In other books, I have found this style off putting and confusing, but Chokshi executed this very well. Each character was unique and had their own personality to contribute. She structured the chapters so that we were also able to get more of an insight into the team’s mission and adventures, while still being drawn to the mystery at hand. Clues were able to come together, insights were shared, and each character was played to their strengths.
There was a moment while reading book one that I worried that it would be overrun with the math and science that accompanied the element of forging – a kind of magic that allowed certain individuals to control mind or matter and bend it to their will – but it was blended nicely with history and mythology to help the clues come together in a seamless and natural way. It was obvious, from a writer’s standpoint, that Chokshi did her research in order to pull off such great storytelling.
One of my favorite parts about The Gilded Wolves was the depth of the world. The Order of Babel is full of mystery and loopholes that could be explored and exploited. The amount of building that went into their society created a unique setting that kept me engaged throughout the entire book. The element of forging and its emphasis in this society allowed the reader to see how deeply rooted cultures and people can become in their pursuit of attaining and maintaining power.
The Gilded Wolves is a nail-biting tail of power and treasure that leaves the reader pining for the continuation of the adventure in The Silvered Serpents.
“Everywhere he looked, he was surrounded by gilded wolves. And for whatever reason, it made him feel perfectly at home.”Pg. 361 – Severin
I would definitely recommend this book to a high-school student. There were a few brief references to a night shared between two of the characters and some tension built with their emotions, but nothing inappropriate or “steamy” was written. There are historical references and elevated language which might cause some readers to struggle, but the story is interesting and engaging enough to carry them through.