Hello and welcome to FanFiAddict’s stop on the book tour for D.W. Ross’ Cold From the North (Onyxborn Chronicle #1). We want to thank Justine & Timy @ Storytellers on Tour for letting us be involved and a big shoutout to D.W. on the release of Cold From the North and it’s forthcoming sequel The Darkest Dusk, which we recently had the pleasure of helping to do a cover reveal for.
Below, you will find information on the book and author, my review, and links so you can grab yourself a copy!
Make sure to check out the rest of the tour by hitting up the schedule link here!
Cold From the North by D.W. Ross
Series: Onyxborn Chronicle (#1)
Published: November 14, 2020
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Pages: 470 (Print Length)
CW: Violence, Gore
Driven by the promise of an ancient prophecy which will bring the dark ways of an old god back to power and prominence, an army of invaders swarms Ogulf Harlsbane’s homeland slaughtering all those who oppose them.
Along with his people, Ogulf must seek refuge from this savage force. In his search of sanctuary, he is tasked with finding the one person who can put a stop to the onslaught.
Doing so will send him across lands and seas, have him and his closest friend navigate the intricacies of a civil war, and try to win the help of the princess fighting for her throne.
If he fails, darkness will prevail and the reign of the Onyxborn will begin.
Cold From the North is D.W. Ross’ debut novel, though it doesn’t read like one. In fact, I am very surprised to learn that he never even considered becoming an author until last year! Though there are a few rough edges here and there, this book does not read like an author’s first outing, much less their first attempt at writing a book.
“Death comes for you with the might of fifty thousand swords and more. The power will leave no one but the wicked alive. The world will fall to eternal darkness if it is not stopped.”
Cold From the North begins in the Norse-inspired country of Broadheim, where a deadly cold has been settled over the land for several years. Crops are failing and people are either starving or freezing and usually both. Although the events of the story take the characters away from their frozen homeland very shortly into the book, there are far reaching ripples caused by the events just prior to the start of the story. Broadheim hasn’t been sending or receiving messages from the other countries of Gelenea, the world our story takes place in. The cold is almost personified into an enemy itself, with the relief that warmth brings the characters almost palpable. Ross does a great job setting up a believable and varied setting for the story to take place in, from Broadheim to Shingally and beyond. While it isn’t fully fleshed out, the magic system is pretty interesting as well. Basically, mages can draw power from Peaks of Influence, mountains that contain stores of magic and that are scattered around the world, and use it for good or ill. It’s an interesting handicap to place on mages and one which directly affects the plot itself.
The real enemy is The Order of Maledict, an ancient order charged with fulfilling the prophecy that will bring about the second coming of their master. To achieve their goal they must locate the eponymous Onyxborn, a powerful mage that can harness vast amounts of power. The beginning of the plot shows our main character’s fleeing from the Order as they wash over Broadheim, slaughtering all in their path. As the Keltbran race for succor in Shingally, the wheels start to turn and soon the ancient prophecies are revealed. With his main inspirations being Sullivan and Islington, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of classic fantasy tropes at play here and Ross uses them well.
“Even when a day is promised, it does not fully prepare a man for the true feelings that destiny being fulfilled can bring.”
While the book is primarily plot-driven, the character’s also receive just treatment. Our two main characters are Ogulf and Melcun, two lifelong friends from Broadheim trying to find their own path through the situation they have found themselves in. Their friendship was one of my favorite things in the book and the dual-sided nature of the characters, with one being the son of a chieftain as well as a master tactician and warrior, and the other being an orphan who can wield magic, shows a lot of promise. I also really liked a few of the secondary and even tertiary characters, such as Cohl the butcher and Trayvan, and I hope to see more of them in the sequels. Unfortunately, Ross struggles to stick the landing when it comes to the character development, as Ogulf and Melcun, the two characters you follow throughout the whole story, except for a few secondary POVs here and there, end up being kind of static. There just isn’t much in the way of character arcs for either of them.
I think that my biggest complaint about Cold From the North is that the pacing slows to a crawl in some areas. The periods between the action and plot development often felt like bridges between events, rather than feeling like meaningful additions to the story and it only served to slow things down. Some scenes felt disjointed and I questioned the necessity of them. The book felt like a series of peaks and valleys and left me wishing it could have been somewhat evened out. Toward the end of the book though, this problem was less noticeable, with everything leading up to a climax for the ages that tied up several of the book’s plot lines, while opening up a few more for exploration in the sequels.
Death was chasing them now; the cold had been mobilised into an army of blades and malevolence that had stolen his lands and slaughtered his people.
Overall, I really liked Cold From the North and I am fiercely excited for it’s sequel, The Darkest Dusk. The worldbuilding was great, with the lands of Gelenea varied and vast in their creation and histories. Even though it employs some classic fantasy tropes, like prophecies, the chosen one, and a magic weapon, Ross uses them to great effect. If there were only a smidge more character development and the pacing was a little steadier, this would be nearly perfect in its execution. In the end, I only have a few complaints in a sea of praise for this book and, considering that it is Ross’ debut, I think he’s definitely an author to keep an eye on.
About the Author
D.W. Ross is an author who took the boredom of lockdown 2020 to another level by deciding to write a book despite having no experience in doing anything of the sort before – to say he never thought he would get this far is an understatement. One book has become a series, and now there is no stopping his creative mind as he plots books daily that he will absolutely never get to writing. Cold From The North was his first novel, with follow up The Darkest Dusk due out in 2021 with the closing novel of the Onyxborn Chronicles coming in early 2022. When not writing, he can be found watching pro wrestling, reading fantasy, dystopian and thriller novels, gaming, lifting weights and eating chicken wings. D.W. lives in Scotland with his wife.