I have been craving a real epic fantasy novel and Winterbirth by Brian Ruckley is exactly that — gods, diverse races, medieval setting, and plenty of warfare. What more could a lover of epic fantasy want?
Well, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Ruckley also does a really good job of creating fascinating characters and plot. Too often you get one or the other, but Ruckley really paints a picture that you can get into. That is due in large part because he doesn’t try to feed you too much all at once — it’s really well-paced.
The main character (if there really is just one), Orisian, is a younger son of a minor noble family. He seems immature for his years, which makes him both interesting and annoying at the same time. The progression from young and weak to mature man is very well done; Orisian’s reaction to life-changing events feels real, not like the typical hero who nonchalantly passes through the refiner’s fire with barely a thought. The other characters are equally interesting.
I really enjoyed the way that Ruckley allowed the reader to see how something that one person sees as evil could be another person’s good. It’s not that you want the bad guy to succeed, but his motives are understandable and reasonable for his character.
I am excited to start the next book in this series, Bloodheir. If Ruckley can maintain the intensity and pace that he set with Winterbirth, then this promises to be one of the best trilogies released recently. Fans of excellent epic fantasy shouldn’t miss Winterbirth.