The Winter Road by Adrian Selby
Updated: Mar 21, 2019
Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: fantasy, epic fantasy, grim-dark
Publisher: Orbit books
Pub. Date: November 13, 2018
The circle is a treacherous and unforgiving land home to warring clans and unknown magic. Teyr Amondsen, an ex-soldier with dreams of building a road across the perilous forests that were once her home. With a small caravan and crew of mercenaries, she embarks on this quest, but finds herself faced with a greater danger. Khiese, a warlord is bent on uniting the clans of the circle through any means necessary. As Teyr’s past and present collide, she’s faced with battles she may not have the strength to win.
*** Thank you to NetGalley and Orbit books for providing me with a free eARC of this book ***
The first thing I have to say about this book is that it is brutal. And I loved every minute of it. Selby has created a completely brutal world, thrown in a badass female ex-soldier, - a war crow - and mixed it all up with a fantastic dose of magic. The world is completely immersive, and at no point does he hold the reader’s hand, rather the reader is dropped in an expected to follow along - my favourite way to experience a book. Even better is how the information about the brews in this book is revealed. I call it magic, but really, what they do is use the plants found in the natural world to create elixirs that affect the drinker’s attributes. So there are brews for strength, for enhanced sight, the list goes on and on. But none of this is really spelled out, rather the reader gets to experience it, and even more it’s made clear the stakes behind using the brews - it’s hard on the body and if made improperly can be deadly.
Teyr’s voice was incredible, and it was almost as if I could hear her talking to me from the page. The way she regarded the world, her hopes and fears, were so clear through the writing - which was gorgeous - and yet it was never monologuey or anything like that. And it is rare to find a female character like Teyr - a completely badass veteran - and the most important part of the book is that she’s just allowed to exist like that. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the other characters in the book are just as well-formed, and I got so attached to all of them.
What I loved most about this book, is how it completely shattered my heart. Though it was a little slow to get into, I was somehow hooked and completely invested without even realizing it. It’s been a long time since I just sat there and cried after finishing a book, and this one did it for me. All I could think was that this is how fantasy ought to be written. I wasn’t sold on the format at first - switching back and forth between past and present tense first person got a little confusing, but once I was used to it, I completely understood why, and then when I got to the last part of the book, that’s when my heart really took a beating.
So, in terms of recommending this book - it’s not for everyone. It’s violent, gritty and dark, and the reader is thrown in with little explanation. So, for readers who tend towards grim-dark and gritty military fantasy, definitely give this one a go.
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