Review of "Where the hills howl" by Francisco Narla

Review of



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A few days ago and thanks to the Albardonedo Literary Agency, we were able to know the new work by Francisco Narla "Where the hills howl" (Editorial Planeta, 2016), a novel located between the years 45 and 44 BC. during the last moments of the mandate of Julius Caesar and his death at the hand of the senators.

However, this is not the center of the plot but the work takes us to Roman Hispania, more precisely among the forests of the mountains of Galicia, a place to which a group of men trusted by Julio César (and himself) traveled with the aim of finding gold, starting a journey that will take us through the Alps and finish in Rome.

Of start, offering us an idyllic view of the Galician mountains, we enter the domain of the great wolf, one of the central characters of the work (not to say the main one) who will take us through the whole book through his instincts, thoughts and emotions, all motivated by his desire for revenge.

It all starts with the centurion Lucio Trebellio Máximo, a man of maximum confidence of Julius Caesar to whom the dictator entrusted a fundamental mission so that he could seize the maximum power in Rome, and his men Cainos, Píramo, Tito, Druso and Segios, who pretend to be alimañeros before a Hispanic tribe with whom they perform a tattoo: they would hunt the wolves that plague the village and in return they would give them the information they were looking for.

At the beginning of the work almost all the wolves have been hunted except a couple, which Cainos, the Hispanic character of the Romans, knows that they are totally different from the others. They manage to capture the female but the great wolf escapes, a decisive moment for Cainos, who knows that a victory has not been obtained as his companions including Julius Caesar believed, but that they had just signed their sentence.

At that moment begins a journey that contains many key moments including brawls with the local tribe as a result of the appearance of their Druid and of course, several attempts to get rid of the wolf, a trip that will culminate in Rome itself with an ending that I will not reveal to you.

I do want to especially highlight a fragment of the book where the thought of the wolf is seen in a clear, impressive and very touching way if possible: your reaction the first time you see the sea:

The strip of the beach seemed eternal to the wolf.
He forgot about the hunters. The indelible mark of the trail in his memory seemed to fade. His spine sagged. His skin flared and he answered the immense beast by growling at him, daring it to attack. He was not disappointed.
And a wave fell. A crash the likes of which I had never heard that shattered the night. And the wolf took off on the run. Oblivious to fear. Ready to kill or be killed.
But the wet sand stopped him. As soon as he stepped on it, amazement held him. Still. Incredulous. With the eyes open. He did not understand what that bog was, different from everything.
The savage bite that he had prepared was half left on him.
And he was staring down at his hands, burying themselves in the trail of the tide, when the next wave hit him. A salty largemouth that gobbled him up in a mess.
The sea chewed it up. And he spat it out right where the tide was sinking under the sand on the beach. With fur dripping from sucked-up strands.
Draft. Shaggy. Bones sticking out from under the soggy skin. Made a guru. He stumbled to his feet. Prepared to fight back, scraping his lips over his huge fangs. And, barely compiled, another wave melted on his hands, splashing flakes of foam.
A sneeze escaped him.
I'm slow to react, in awe.
His muzzles began to relax. The wires that stretched the hides were cut.
And suddenly he lowered his shoulders, shook his tail uneasily, put his hands out in front of him. Ready to play.
He ran after the waves. Biting the tinsel. Tasting the ridges that were painted silver with the reflections of the moon….
[…] It was a puppy again. Her face changed, her eyes widened. He had the honeyed countenance of a cub that comes out of the den for the first time ...
[…] I played hunting the sea. And the sea followed suit.

This is just an excerpt from a moment from the book, but what I wanted to rescue for the poetic and emotional, leading us to feel first-hand what the wolf is experiencing in a timely manner. These sensations that increase when we are already hooked on reading and we did not expect it. And of these, there are several more in the work.

Narla has been able to give the wolf personality, as well as with the other characters, being especially remarkable (personal opinion) that of Cainos el Hispano, who is also capable of making us feel at all times everything that goes through his head and who we could describe as «antagonist"Of the wolf, while at the same time showing himself as the only one capable of fully understanding it. They are opposites, but they have the same way of thinking.

In "Where the hills howl«, Narla shows us a very rich Galician lexicon focusing especially on the description of the place, fauna and flora, although his nods to history are continuous and perfectly brought into the novel, which, although not historical, has a great setting of impeccable time.

This work is a turning point in his career, where he shows us a side perhaps more people, and positions him as one of the most versatile and talented writers in Spain, who achieved success with «Assur»(2012) and«Ronin»(2013) and will surely do so with«Where the hills howl«, Making it a reference of the historical novel in our country.

After studying History at the University and after many previous tests, Red Historia was born, a project that emerged as a means of dissemination where you can find the most important news of archeology, history and humanities, as well as articles of interest, curiosities and much more. In short, a meeting point for everyone where they can share information and continue learning.


Video: Entrevista Francisco Narla por su Assur