Ahoy there me mateys! I received this fantasy eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .
the winter road (Adrian Selby)
Title: the winter road
Author: Adrian Selby
Publisher: Orbit Books
Publication Date: TODAY!! (hardcover/e-book)
Damn, what a good book! The blurb does not do this one justice at all. This is a grimdark fantasy that follows Teyr Amondsen, an ex-soldier. She be awesome! Her goal is to build a trade road that will bring the communities of the Circle together through commerce and thus allow more people to prosper. While a lofty goal, her plans are threatened when a selfish warlord begins conscripting the Circle communities for his army to help take over the Circle. Teyr had put her battles behind her but she blatantly refuses to give in to the warlord’s plotting. She fights back.
The highlight of this for me was Teyr’s character. I admire her tenacity, grit, fortitude, and intelligence. Talk about suffering! This book is one long slog for Teyr and I was both horrified at how bad her luck was and was boldly cheering on her pure stubbornness. For all that she is a hardened fighter, her life as a merchant and relationship with her partner and his son shows her softer side. She cares for those she works with and has her own version of integrity. She is complicated and interesting. Life around her is certainly never boring.
The secondary highlight was the world building. In particular, I loved the use of plants as a major resource. Plants are a type of currency and have many uses. One is for battle brews that enrich a warrior’s sight, strength, and other attributes based on what is in them. Each war band has it’s own secret recipes and fiercely guard them. What was awesome is that ye have to “pay the colour” for their use. Besides causing the user to be violently ill and face potential death, the mixes also ruin the user’s skin and cause a period of complete defenselessness. I just loved everything about the plant use in both war and in daily life. Add in the clan of plant users with mystical abilities and it be just plan awesome.
But besides the cool plants, I also very much enjoyed the clan structures and family bonds. I thought the world was very believable and loved that women have strong roles in many places. I loved the dual narratives of Teyr’s past and present that really did set the correct tone and allowed for the reader to experience excellent character growth. And then once the timelines merge, the pace picks up and the tension increases. The epistolary nature of the ending of the book was different and perfect.
Apparently this is one of three planned companion books set in Sarun. There is another book called, snakewood, that takes place 250 years after this one. I will have to give that one a shot. Arrr!
Don’t just take me word for readin’ this book (though it should be enough!). Also check out what me crew had to say about this one:
Drew @ thetattoedbookgeek – “There is a darkness to The Winter Road and the story that Selby is telling. It is a tale fermented in misery and steeped in pain with Selby putting his characters through many a hardship. There is suffering aplenty handed out for many involved and the world is savage. The journeys undertaken are fraught with peril and the Circle is a cruel mistress for those who inhabit it. I was drawn to the darkness in The Winter Road and I absolutely loved it!”
So lastly . . .
Thank ye Orbit Books!
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
The greatest empire of them all began with a road.
The Circle – a thousand miles of perilous forests and warring clans. No one has ever tamed such treacherous territory before, but ex-soldier Teyr Amondsen, veteran of a hundred battles, is determined to try.
With a merchant caravan protected by a crew of skilled mercenaries, Amondsen embarks on a dangerous mission to forge a road across the untamed wilderness that was once her home. But a warlord rises in the wilds of the Circle, uniting its clans and terrorising its people. Teyr’s battles may not be over yet . . .
All roads lead back to war.
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