Monday, August 4, 2014

'The Wolf Talk' by Shaun Ellis - A Review

A Tool for Research on 'Wulfsuna'

            For me, this book began as a casual dip into research on wolf behaviour, intended to supplement a character profile. I anticipated a light read that would provide me with insights into the ways wolves move and communicate, thus enabling me to transpose those elements into the character. I wanted to know how these animals hunted, ate, slept, fought, played and spoke to one another. I wanted to understand pack hierarchy. The book did not disappoint.

            ‘The Wolf Talk’ is indeed a wonderfully light read. You can breeze through the pages and come and go as you please. Shaun’s prose is relaxed and familiar. You could be sat with him in the trees, watching the wolves as he relays all he knows. The subject matter is, however, by no means light. Shaun is informing, without being condescending; he is knowledgeable whilst humble. As per the spiritual connotation for the wolf, Shaun calls them his teachers. His book is not about training wolves, it is about learning from them. Having spent a lifetime engaging with Canids in the wild and in captivity, he has a unique insight. Shaun has lived among these secretive and intelligent creatures, sleeping with them, playing with them and challenging them to retain the status of a Beta wolf within the pack. In one amazing entry he recalls how an alpha male brought him a piece of meat from a kill because, although he had defended his Beta position at the meal itself, he had consumed no flesh. Alpha and Beta wolves feed on the more sumptuous areas of rump and shoulder, consuming the higher protein meat, thereby increasing their intake of nutrients and giving them a mental and physical advantage over lower ranking wolves.