Cold and grim, but extremely engrossing.,
This review is from: Lord of Snow and Shadows [Book One of The Tears of Artamon]. (Paperback)
This is the first volume of The Tears of Artamon (before Prisoner of the Ironsea Tower, and Children of the Serpent Gate).
Lord of Snow and Shadows tells the story of Gavril, a young painter who is suddenly snatched from his quiet life in sun-bathed Smarna after the father he's never met is murdered, and forcibly taken to the snow-bound kingdom of Azhkendir, where he's expected to avenge and succeed him.
Moreover, he soon learns that his heirloom comes with yet another price: the blood that runs in his family's veins is slowly transforming him into a Drakhaoul, a beast of incredible might but needing to be refuelled with the blood of young innocents. Gavril must absolutely resist it to preserve his soul and not give in to this dreadful craving.
In the meantime, his mother Elysia searches for him, imploring the help of the neighbouring Muscobite aristocracy, only to find herself caught in the middle of a powerplay between people lying in wait of a sign of weakness from the North to attack her son. She'll end up trusting the wrong people, who'll use her to invade Azhkendir.
I was taken in by the story from the very first pages and soon lost myself in the account of these intricate events, trying to see through these complex characters. The book is no light and happy fairy tale, though and some passages are terribly grim. However, Gavril's helplessness and good-heartedness make him very lovable, and I became very fond of Kiukiu, the cook's young niece and other maids' bully target, who'll discover powers of her own and finally befriend the Kastel's other desolate soul... I also enjoyed Sarah Ash's descriptions of winter in Azhkendir, so true to life I could feel the harshness of the cold. I'm eager to go on reading and see how the very tricky situation everyone is entangled in evolves.