4 out of 5
When I first picked up The Silvered I wasn’t sure what to expect. Werewolves have never been an interest for me. I was pleasantly surprised to see that these are not your typical werewolves, instead they are more shape changers. Huff has created a world on the edge of the industrial revolution where magic and technology are struggling to find a way to co-exist. Aydori is a small country ruled by the Pack, a combination of Mage Pack and Hunt Pack. The Empire, ruled by a very insane Emperor, is attempting to dominate the world. The main plot concerns Mirian, a young mage and Tomas the Hunt Pack member who rescues her, and their attempts to free the Mage Pack and save their land. A strong undercurrent to the story is the Emperor’s attempt to control all of the Pack members in order to use them for world dominance by declaring them abominations with less rights than the lowest animal. It is difficult to read the book without making comparisons to various attempts throughout history to purge various groups of humans. The Emperor’s use of science in these endeavors is an obvious reminder of Hitler’s horrible experiments on the Jews during WW II. While the members of the Pack show the effects of this dehumanization it is Captain Reiter, a soldier in the Emperor’s army, who provides a counterpoint to the Emperor. Having spent his whole adult life following orders, he suddenly finds himself questioning the Emperor and his plans. Unable to get the image of a dead female Hunt Pack member wearing earrings he begins to doubt that these are truly abominations. The more time he spends with Mirian the more difficult it is for him rationalize his orders. An interesting side note is the treatment of men and women. While sex doesn’t determine ones possible abilities, men can be Mage Pack, women can be Hunt Pack, the Emperor doesn’t seem able to grasp this and focuses all of his efforts on finding male Hunt Pack and female Mage Pack.
Huff tells a good story about a difficult subject without becoming preachy. The characters are believable and all too human despite their various abilities. The magic system is different and fully realized. While the novel is not part of a series and the story begins and ends in one book, it is easy to see the possibility of future novels set in the same world. I would be very interested in something about the past, how the Pack came to be, which is hinted at but never completely described. This book is one that I definitely recommend.