November 21, 2017

A bleak, beautiful beginning

By Rachel Neumeier
Review by

Winter of Ice and Iron is dark and unflinching, but also surefooted and heartfelt. What a welcome way to bear out the winter.

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Winters in Rachel Neumeier’s Winter of Ice and Iron can get pretty rough. As snow and ice blanket the Four Kingdoms, the obsidian winds rip down from the mountains, the night lasts for days and massive winter dragons terrorize commoners and nobles alike. Fortunately for us, the characters that Neumeier weaves into her tale of ambition, duty and family are more than ready to face it all.

When the Mad King of Emmer threatens her native Haravir, Princess Kehera rides to the border to avert all-out war. On the way, she discovers there are forces and powers at play far beyond her understanding, and she is forced to go on the run. In the forbidding mountains of Ëaneté, she is scooped up by Innisth, the Wolf Duke, a man as forbidding as the land he rules. Though he is cold and strict, Kehera senses something powerful in him. Innisth, in turn, conceives of a way Kehera can help him realize his close-guarded ambitions.

The reason they sense something in one another is that both Kehera and Innisth hold ties to Immanent Powers, one of Winter of Ice and Iron’s most inventive elements. These magical, non-sentient elementals naturally form over generations, drawing power from the earth, the creatures and the people that inhabit their realm. Neumeier confidently employs these Powers, lending an ethereal and whirling grace to every appearance they make in the narrative. They are both the paint used to color this world and a reflection of the people that wield them.

And Kehera and Innisth are just as enthralling. The two ricochet off one another, giving each a sense of purpose and forward motion. Even with other memorable characters throughout, Kehera and Innisth command the reader’s attention from the moment they meet.

Neumeier’s experience in the fantasy space, borne out in works like The Griffin Mage Trilogy, shines in this latest work. Winter of Ice and Iron is dark and unflinching, but also surefooted and heartfelt. From their first meeting through the gripping final sequence, real emotion and real history drive Kehera and Innisth’s ever-evolving relationship. What a welcome way to bear out the winter.

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Winter of Ice and Iron

Winter of Ice and Iron

By Rachel Neumeier
ISBN 9781481448970

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