Winterbirth by Brian Ruckley


By: Brian Ruckley

Synopsis: An uneasy truce exists between the thanes of the True Bloods. Now, as another winter approaches, the armies of the Black Road march south from their exile beyond the Vale of Stones. For some, war will bring swift and violent death. Others will not hear the clash of swords or see the corpses strewn over the fields. They will see an opportunity to advance their own ambitions. But all, soon, will fall under the shadow that is descending. 

For while the storm of battle rages, one man is following a path that will awaken a terrible power in him – and his legacy will be written in blood.

Format: Winterbirth is the first book in the Godless World trilogy. The book is 654 pages long, and contains a dark story with a twisting plot. It was published by Orbit in 2006.

My Thoughts: Brian Ruckley introduces a very well built world in his first installment of the trilogy. You can feel yourself standing beside the characters, observing them. From the descriptions of the mountains, to the trailing of a cloak in the sea, nothing that would remove the reader from this world was added. The descriptions and imagery used in this book really set the tone of what was happening in the plot, with the world becoming darker with the continuance of the plot. 

Another impressive feat in this novel is the characters. Whether I liked or disliked them, all seemed like real people, with real motivations and desires. The characters also liked to blur the lines between good and bad, allowing the reader to sympathize with a character that has committed heinous acts, that would disgust and terrify anyone in the real world.  

With no true “main character” the viewpoint of the reader jumps through most of the introduced characters, allowing a multiple viewpoint approach to all problems in the plot. It was cool to be able to understand what each character wanted out of a situation, when you know not everyone was going to get what they wanted. It allowed a tension to develop between the characters that the reader could feel, as if they actually knew the characters personally. This allowed a deep understanding of the plot, that makes this book very enjoyable.

The plot, while dark and bloody, was created in such a way that the reader could never anticipate what would happen. Characters would die often enough that any injury becomes questioned on whether we lose a character or not, and every battle had no pre-determined outcome. I found this built the anticipation, and made me reach for the next book in the trilogy as soon as I finished this one. Overall, I thought this was an excellent book that should provide entertainment to many fantasy readers.

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