So do werewolves need a pack? If so, why? I've been reading more urban fantasy lately and it seems like every book I read about werewolves defaults to a pack setting. The Mercy Thompson and Kitty Norville series are the two I'm most familiar with- both have packs that play a prominent role- and it does seem like this is the norm. And that brings up a related question- are some of these werewolves really werewolves, or are they just... wolves?
I know that some protagonists are more shifters than werewolves per se, so maybe that partially answers the question (I know Mercy is a coyote shifter but her neighboring wolf pack play a huge role), but it almost seems to me that once the transformation is complete, it's like they're just wolves sometimes. They hunt for game and howl at the moon and hang out together- strength in numbers- but they don't always act like werewolves do in movies or folklore. I'm used to werewolves hunting people, or at the very least being very dangerous, whereas a lot of the werewolves in UF seem to try avoiding people.
That's nice, of course, if you want to read about characters that are, you know, decent. Who wants to read about a crazed psycho werewolf killing people constantly? Um... me maybe? But seriously I think there's room for both, but obviously a story like that is going to be very different from the relatively sympathetic protagonists we typically get. I can't help thinking, though- where are the solitary werewolves? Why are there so many that there's always a pack? Would a pack of werewolves really go unnoticed, even if they live in a remote area?
Also something else that's been bugging me. Why does the transformation into werewolf hurt? I mean it might seem intuitive- you're changing form, of course it's going to hurt, right? But, if it's a magical thing... it doesn't have to. I mean you can make either one your default as a writer, but I almost always see painful transformations as the standard. Again, maybe moreso in books? On screen I think I've seen more immediate shifts, or some that are painful but some that aren't.
So... what do you think? Pack or no pack? Should werewolves (or other shifters) be running around solo?
I would say I'd imagine a werewolf as more of a solitary hunter like An American Werewolf in London, hunting new prey and being wild and dangerous. I do like a good Pack with personalities and hierarchy like Kelley Armstrong and Patricia Briggs as long as the focus isn't on full moon orgies and soulmate romance!ReplyDelete
I'm the same, and yes American Werewolf is an example I thought of! It seems like it would be so traumatic and the werewolf would be evil, or at the very least feeding on humans... ? But maybe not. I guess variety is the thing. :)Delete
You know I agree with you on this. I feel like there's a difference between wolf shifters and more traditional werewolves. I think portrayals can also straddle the line and be a bit of both. I don't tend to read the shifter books because pack politics and alphas and all that just isn't usually my thing. It's nice to find different portrayals. I do have The Last Werewolf but haven't gotten to it yet, I imagine that one is probably solitary lol. Although it's interesting that you see more painful shifts cuz I feel like I've seen more painless ones!ReplyDelete
Yes! I need some solitary werewolf stories for sure! Like them wrestling with their problems without a pack to fall back on. I mean I like a good pack story too, don't get me wrong, but it seems like they're ALL pack stories, mostly.Delete
Ooh I like a painless shift for some reason- I don't even know why, maybe the whole bones shifting/ agony thing seems overdone to me for something that seems inherently magical?- but I hope I encounter more of the painless variety!
Interesting topic. I was watching a few programs about wolves, and each one showed that they have a pack mentality in most instances, which was pretty interesting. Years ago, I used to really get into the shapeshifting of wolves because it seemed fascinating, but the shapeshifting days are gone, but it's cool to see how they are portrayed by various authors like Christine Feehan and others. Happy Wednesday to you Gorgeous Greg and hugs...ROReplyDelete
Thanks Ro! I do like a good wolf pack, I have to admit. :) For some reason I got thinking though about wolf shifters vs actual werewolves, and if there was a difference. I think it does, but I guess I haven't seen many of the werewolf varieties (or solo ones anyways). And I'm not familiar w/ Christine feehan but now I will definitely look her up!Delete
I haven't given it much thought, but there is a huge difference between the more traditional werewolf lore (i.e. classic horror movies, An American Werewolf in London) and the modern YA depiction of werewolves. The latter ones do resemble wolves and not this mythical man-eating creature that's cursed to walk between two worlds. Speaking of which, have you seen "What We Do in the Shadows"? The werewolves there are hilarious.ReplyDelete
Exactly. I thought much the same! I think I'm coming up at werewolf lore like the traditional depictions, and the newer wolf pack/ shifter thing is new to me. Not that it's bad, just different. And no I have not seen that, but I wil definitely check it out!Delete
I always felt there is a difference between shifter and werewolf. I feel a shifter completely changes into the animal form and weres are somewhere in between. that is my feel on it at least. I feel the old legend of werewolf does not need a pack but the magical shifter thing does... not because they are w are a wolf but because well you are a shifter. isn't that hard enough. I guess the pain is the entire thing about it being a curse maybe. I guess. I have read some books where it doesn't hurt but most of the time it seems too. I love that all the shifter stories out there are just a tad different.ReplyDelete
That's a great point, and I think you're right. Makes sense! The social aspect of helping shifters cope makes a ton of sense. Maybe there is a difference!Delete
You bring up some good points. I always thought that since wolves have a pack nature, that werewolves inherited that trait by nature. I also don't understand why the transformation needs to hurt all the time. I think you have some very valid points and this is a very interesting discussion.ReplyDelete
Thanks Barb! And I agree- it totally makes sense that wolves have a pack nature so werewolves would too? At least some times. That probably explains why so many authors go that route. :) I think I'm more used to werewolf movies and stuff so I'm still thinkin in that werewolf terrorizing the countryside mode haha!Delete
My answer is that this sounds like you need to write your own werewolf story😁ReplyDelete
Ha you might be right- and thanks!!!Delete
My answer is no. They should be in packs cause they are wolves technically. If someone wrote them as loners I am OK with that. But, for the most part they should be in a pack. I have read most of my shifter in the form of romance and it doesn't hurt them to change at least not in any of the books I have read. I agree it shouldn't hurt.ReplyDelete
Oh really? See I haven't read much PNR (I know there's a fine line- or is there- between PNR and urban fantasy) so I didn't know there were so many painless shifts! That's good to know. And I'm fairly new to UF so I might be blowing smoke haha. But the pack thing does make sense to me from a wolf perspective? I guess I just feel like sometimes werewolves are more magical/ loner creatures and not subject to mundane wolf traits? But there's room for both!Delete
I am on the other side where I have read little UF and mostly PNR. I have never seen them write in that it hurts so that is new to me but I can understand it. I get the pack thing too. I do think you have a great point on being a loner. Like how many of them should there be out there? To me they are magical. I don't to each his own. I like shifter books tho and find them pretty cool to read. I will have to check out a UF with wolves - not a romance.Delete
They need a leader...an alpha and they need a pack. Then when one of the pack wants to take down the leader...it all works out?ReplyDelete
Makes sense! And like I said above- I think it makes a certain sense to have wolf traits manifest if you're a wolf shifter. I just think there could be more solo werewolf stories too, or maybe there are and I haven't found 'em!Delete
Oh and you have a good point about werewolves getting larger!
The transformation has to hurt...better viewing in a movie! Plus the werewolves have to get bigger!ReplyDelete
About the pain...in some books, once they are used to it, there is no pain, but I can see why there would be. About a pack...They are a 'wolf' and wolves do run in packs, so it makes sense.ReplyDelete
sherry @ fundinmental
Yeah that seems to be a consensus about packs, a bit, and it makes sense. I just wonder if sometimes werewolves are more solitary/ predatory/ loner type characters.Delete
I think the werewolf pack thing comes from real wolves roaming in packs. Other shifter animal who are solitary in real animal form are usually written as solitary shifters as well. I like that authors most times follow what the real animals would do and how they live.ReplyDelete
I think you're right. And it makes sense. Wolves WOULD follow real wolf behavior, right? I guess I'm thinking more of horror movies or lore where often the werewolf is a solitary predator or whatevs.Delete
This is a tough one... I don't think they need packs exactly, from what I have read...It seems that pack represent a "family", my favorite books are the ones where they are lone wolves with no pack. I equate transformation with birthing a child....ReplyDelete
I think it'd be more interesting to read about solo wolves once in awhile. Because not everyone likes to run with a pack.ReplyDelete
I've never thought about this really....my guess (other than it makes the world building more interesting) is with wolves it is supposed to mimic pack dynamics in human form because the shift affects personality traits and tastes. But when I look at say the Ilona Andrews series, there's still packs (although they work differently) involved even with animals like rats so....this is honestly a great question that I can't believe never crossed my mind!ReplyDelete
I can honestly tell you, that I have never thought too deeply about this topic, but all that keeps filling my head are the wolves from Teen Wolf and how they were stronger as a pack than on their own. This post was lots of fun and I loved reading it.ReplyDelete
I’ve read quite a few books with werewolves and shifters in them. They do vary. I read one of Maggie Stiefvater’s novels and found her view fascinating. In her world, you turn into a wolf and run with a pack all winter - in summer everyone changes back. But while they are in wolfskin they ARE wolves, plain and simple. Eventually they don’t come back - and they live only a wolf’s lifetime, not a human one.ReplyDelete
Terry Pratchett’s werewolf heroine Angua is part of an aristocratic werewolf family - no other pack, though she has sometimes run with a regular wolf pack before moving to the big city, Ankh Morpork, and joining the police force. She can change whenever she likes and describes the change as a sort of full body sneeze, definitely not painful!
Teenage girls like their paranormal heroes, including romantic young men who skinturn. Those do tend to have packs, of which, of course, they are the leaders! Hey, I’m a school librarian - I have been buying those books for my library for years.
I mean, I feel like the pack thing stems from humans and wolves both being social animals, Once werewolves shifted (ha) away from being the folkloric "changes into half-person, half-wolf, will eat you at the full moon without question, and yes. It's contagious, or a curse, possibly both," situation, it kind of grew out of adding complexity and social dynamics? (And some deeply flawed studies on captive wolf populations but THAT is a story for another time.)ReplyDelete
I have read books with solitary werewolves but they're usually the ones that are the monsters more in line with English werewolf lore.
Hmmm, I can't say I've ever thought about either of these conundrums before, but you make great points. Wolves aren't always pack animals so I guess werewolves should reflect that.ReplyDelete
For transformations it's the reverse- from wolf to human - that intrigues me. Does all the fur just fall off or ... what?
Interesting post on a topic that I've never given much thought to. In my mind, I've always assumed they would need packs, but as you say, an author really has the leeway to present them however they choose. I'd be interested in reading books with either one, packs or solitary.ReplyDelete
Well this is an interesting topic! So I think I have a lot of trouble with werewolves and such in general because I ask way too many questions like this. And like, do they have to keep buying new clothes? And exactly, wouldn't animal control just take a pack of them out? Too much suspension of disbelief for me, I think.ReplyDelete
Have you read the Kate Daniels by Ilona Andrews? They keep sweats and t-shirts around for post-shifting. Hehe. I think werewolves and shifters being partially human keeps animal control from hunting them like animals. They're also dangerous, so unless someone could definitely kill them all at once, you'd have trouble afterwards.Delete
love this post!ReplyDelete
I do think wolves are social creatures, They need their pack :) pack setting. I think of them as the animals they are supposed to represent so Panthers, Tigers, Bear shifters.. I picture them going solo but dogs, wolves, lions, I picture them in packs (prides, etc) Did I say I love this post? :)
Awesome post! Personally, I do think they need a pack. Wolves (and most other shifters) are pack animals, and having a sense of hierarchy keeps them focused and organized. I also think there are so few of them, they need to stick together in order to survive. I'm sure the world isn't fond of werewolves or shifters, so they are their own minority. They should look out for one another.ReplyDelete
Have you read the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews? You have a Pack, but you also have individual leaders/alphas for the different groups. There are were-hyenas, werewolves, were-rats, etc., and they all have someone that leads them. There is also one Pack leader, the strongest of all the alphas, that leads the entire pack. I've really enjoyed learning about the different dynamics and seeing how they function separately and as a unit. There are always those that don't play well with others! Kate's also not Pack, so her presence is a sore spot for a lot of the shifters, but she proves herself again and again. I think you might like the series now that I'm rambling about it, haha.
Have you seen the British version of Being Human? They lived separately, I think. But the werewolves in the Sookie Stackhouse books and the HBO show had packs. Interesting thoughts. 👍✨ReplyDelete
Pack! Because otherwise you'd have to live alone with a big secret and that would be depressing and exhausting! Think also that people who look alike, have the same upbringing and culture do tend to gather together. Why would it be different for werewolves? Sophie @bewareofthereaderReplyDelete
I think I like the packs but I could get behind reading something about a werewolf hunting people too. Some of my favorite series have some kind of shifters or packs and I love how they create their own community.ReplyDelete