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Winterbirth: Book One of the Godless World Series Hardcover – 5 Oct 2006
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Winterbirth is written with great assurance and tells a gripping story that builds to a grim climax. No one who enjoys heroic fantasy should miss this - The Times (An intriguing and imaginative story... particularly evocative - Dreamwatch)
A spectacular epic fantasy debut from a new British author destined to become a major new name in the field.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Correction, I can. And this is that time.
I write this review as a fan of historical fiction and fantasy novels. Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden, George RR Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, David Gemmell and Tolkien all rank as authors I read and enjoy.
I bought this book after having read some decent reviews. I like to give a new author a chance and heard some reasonably encouraging things about Ruckley.
So to the story. The concept is fine; a grim 'dark' or 'semi' fantasy world. Some grim and heartless characters to inhabit it. A good bit of violence and stabbing. Given the book's title none of this is unexpected. And that's why I bought the book. I love a good bit of violence and stabbing. Mix in some intrigue and a decent plot and you're onto a winner. So why the 2 stars?
Well, Ruckley's novel seems to have a decent plot, and it certainly isn't poorly written. The problem I have is one of visualisation. I have no idea where I am or who I'm looking at. At the time of writing I'm half way through the book and I don't have the first idea what sort of world I'm reading about. What do the characters look like? What weaponry and armour do they wear? What sort of buildings do they inhabit? If you could let me know Ruckley, that would be great.
You see, most dark fantasy novels I've read have a grounding in reality, and it's that reality which makes it convincing. Martin's Westeros is full of gilded armour and medieval pagaentry, so I know the type of environment within which the story is taking place. Clothing is properly described, further adding to the sense of knowing.
Ruckley's novel lacks this, and it lacks it big time. Without it I can't begin to visualise the world I'm reading about. Judging from the cover artwork, we're in a cold, snowy world where the warriors wear spartan-style helmets, but this isn't eluded to within the novel itself.
Don't get me wrong, I know that reading involves imagination, but I'd at least like to imagine the same world as the author.
Oh, and don't get me started on the names. Not a bad concept (they do actually make sense) but without being able to properly visualise the characters, it's difficult to attribute what are rather long and forgettable names to them. It makes for a toilsome experience all in all. Will I go back to the book? Maybe, if I'm really bored.
It's a shame really as the storyline is ok and Ruckley clearly has an idea where he's going with it.
At First it is a bit tedious at times, i'll give you that. But as soon as you get to know the different groups of characters and their struggles it turns to edge of your seat tension. Those who gave this book one or two star ratings should to be honest not be reading fantasy books. This book clearly shows the realistic horrors of a harsh, winter war but also the political dealings which go on in the background between the two high thanes, the shadowhand and the heads of the inkallim. Also Aglyss is a brilliant character, the only true 'bad guy' i could find in the entire story.
This book shows the slow steady descent of the land into darkness, something which is carried on in the second book- Bloodheir and hopefully the third- fall of thanes.
This epic fantasy series, i think is up there in the top then fantasy stories ever.
As you follow the central band of characters you are left sometimes questioning if events unfold they way they do because of the choices that they make. If you are on the side of the `True Bloods', as our band are, then you may believe that it is all your fault. Though, if you are with the Black Road it is all pre-written and what will happen is already decided.
I enjoyed the bands journey and reading the history of the places they passed through. There is also magic in this world. It is however kept frustratingly enigmatic and hidden that I couldn't really handle what those who wield it can and can't do.
If there was something that kept me reading even when I was getting swapped in the detail was Ruckley's excellent characterisation - all the characters are solidly portrayed even those whose blood flows a few pages after they are mentioned. He does have a way of making you care about them and you may find yourself gasping about how merciless he is.
Winterbirth is a confidently written, well plotted, excellently characterised tale, that needs a good level of concentration and a strong stomach - but leaves you wanting more with a lot of questions that just have to be answered in the next book.