Hello and welcome to FanFiAddict’s stop on the book tour for J.D.L. Rosell’s The Throne of Ice & Ash (The Runewar Saga #1). We want to thank Justine & Timy @ Storytellers on Tour for letting us be involved and a big shoutout to J.D.L. on the recent release of The Throne of Ice & Ash.
Below, you will find information on the book and author, our reviews, 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!
The Throne of Ice & Ash by J.D.L. Rosell
Series: The Runewar Saga (#1)
Published: April 14, 2021
Genre: Epic fantasy, Nordic fantasy, sword & sorcery, coming-of-age, military fantasy, political fantasy
CW: Extensive Violence
In the frigid storms of winter, leaders and warriors are forged… Can the Jarl’s heirs avenge their kin and protect their throne from ancient foes?
Bjorn, son of the Jarl of Oakharrow, has always felt more at ease with a quill than a sword. Yet when tragedy strikes his family, he finds himself drawing a blade and leading a company of warriors into the cold, deadly mountains in pursuit of a mysterious enemy. But vengeance comes at a high price…
Aelthena, Bjorn’s sister, was born with the aptitude to lead, and she’s eager to prove it. But her society’s rules for women, and her love for her brother, restrain her efforts to command. As she walks the fine line between ambition and virtue, the city stirs in unrest, and even her allies question her right to rule…
Yet more than one city’s fate hangs in the balance. Mythic enemies emerge to conquer all humanity. And the only way they can be overcome is for Bjorn and Aelthena to unite their feuding peoples and master mysterious powers few humans have touched before… The Runewar is rising — and it begins with the fall of the throne.
Justin’s Rating: 8/10
The Throne of Ice & Ash the first in a new Norse inspired series by Rosell and the first book of his that I have read, although I am pretty sure that it is not going to be last. This also marks the first time I have ever buddy read something with my wife, Victoria, who is joining me on this tour stop with her review below!
Though she had not seen a war, she had seen the broken men they left in their wake.
I have seen a bit of discussion lately about prologues and whether they enhance a story or drag it down and, while I could probably write a while essay on the subject, let me just say that this one kicks things off in the most perfect way possible. We are quickly introduced to the setting that the entirety of this story takes place, a cold and harsh Norse inspired north, where the near-inhospitable mountains are as wont to kill you as the creatures that roam it. Impressively, the setting isn’t merely used as dressing for the stage upon which the story is told, but as a worldbuilding tool that enriches the story itself. For instance, the Jarl of Oakharrow’s badge of office is the Winter Mantle, a cloak of greatbear fur, which makes perfect sense in the context of where the story takes place. A lesser storyteller may have just said he wore a crown, or wielded a sceptre, perhaps, but it’s little choices like this that grounds the story in a believable world.
Outside of the obvious introduction to the setting, the prologue does something else that really impressed me, which was introduce us immediately to something that we wouldn’t actually see again until much later in the book. Similar to how A Game of Thrones introduced the white walkers at the very beginning of the first book and then forgot them for several books, so too is an inhuman force introduced at the very beginning of The Throne of Ice & Ash and then only hinted at for a long while after. I really enjoyed this gradual build-up to the reveal and that small glimpse into the supernatural at the start had me waiting for the shoe to drop the whole time and when that thread was finally picked back up it was wholly satisfying.
Legends were coming alive before him. The least he could do was witness it.
Speaking of reveals, the plot itself is a series of switchbacks that kept me reeling and utterly captivated the entire time. From the onset, we are thrown into the deep end with everyone else, the author content to let us drown with our protagonists rather than take a passive role as overseer. Though our two main characters and points of views are brother and sister, their personalities and the things that drive them couldn’t be farther separated from one another. Aelthena is head-strong and capable, a born leader, the only problem being that she was born into a world that believes a woman’s place is by the hearth. Bjorn on the other hand is the meek, scholarly type, more suited for study than warfare and wants nothing less than the throne he was born to inherit. After their home is destroyed and the peace and safety of their people is threatened, Aelthena and Bjorn are forced to do what they can to secure their people’s future. The fact that each of them was thrust into roles that they either were unprepared for (in Bjorn’s case) or simply unwelcome in (in Aelthena’s) was really interesting and brought a level of conflict to the story that kept things always moving in interesting directions.
The rest of the cast unfortunately proved to be a little flat. So much so that when several of them were lost, I didn’t really feel one way or another about it. As much as this is a sweeping epic with events of world shattering consequence, it is ultimately also a very intimate story of two young siblings trying to do their best to fill the roles that have suddenly become vacant. One, a leader of men in a world that says she isn’t good enough, and the other, a leader of men trapped in a mind that says he isn’t good enough. Overall, I really loved The Throne of Ice & Ash and I am really looking forward to reading more of Rosell’s work. If it is anywhere near as good as this then I already know I am in for one hell of a ride.
Dreams are worth piss, boy. The strength in your blood is what forges the world.
Victoria’s Rating: 8/10
Like my husband before me, I have also given The Throne of Ice and Ash an 8. While I feel that this book had so many strong points, there were a couple of issues that brought it down the pegs necessary for a ten. I don’t normally start my reviews off with the things I found lacking, but I want to do this one differently, only for monotony’s sake.
The biggest issue I had were the disparities between Aelthena and Bjorn. These characters are clearly written to be foils for one another. Where Bjorn is cowardly, Aelthena is brave. Sometimes, though, I felt as if their differences were there solely to make them opposite one another, if that makes sense. They consistently made choices that, while they moved the story along nicely, felt almost too in-character. It was almost to the point that they were dominated solely by the headstrong (Aelthena) and cowardly (Bjorn) personality traits that they’d been assigned in the beginning. For most of the book, they were stagnant and it was a little disappointing.
HOWEVER. And this is a big however. The best thing to happen to these two was to be kept apart. Without forced reminders of all they had lost, they were able to process their grief as individuals rather than siblings. It was an interesting take on familial grief, to be sure. I often found myself thinking about my own sister and how tragedy brought us closer together. It made me wonder if the relationship would have been different had their sexes been the same either way. I also noticed that the further they drifted apart, the more of themselves they shed. I don’t want to say too much because I’ve already been chastised for spoiling (looking at you up there, Justin). Still, I think it’s important to mention that who these characters are ultimately revolves around the fact that they’re human. They grow, as most characters do, and it takes being apart from one another for them to do so. It was really well done, in my opinion.
Okay, I have spent half my review talking about character. I do want to make one thing clear before I move on. I loved both of these characters. I think they had necessary stories to tell and I believe that they are both going to play a critical role in whatever conflict is forthcoming. Anyhow, moving on. I think where Rosell really shines is his worldbuilding. A Norse-inspired tale, The Throne of Ice and Ash often had me thinking I was reading an alternate history. The intricacies that Rosell wove in to the first book in his series was truly mindblowing. I was always hesitant about what was going to emerge from the trees to snatch up the Hunters or whether Aelthena’s allies were who they said they were. And, to me, I think that’s the most impressive. It was very reminiscent of A Song of Ice and Fire, although I sense that we will see the completion of this series before a nuclear winter strikes. I jest, but I do believe that Rosell is a shining star when it comes to his world creation and lore. Norse mythology fascinates me anyway, so this was just an overall treat to read.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is in search of a good bildungsroman. In fact, they would get a two-fer. Two for the price of one. Aelthena and Bjorn hold a special place in my virtual shelf, and one day soon my physical, but until then, it was a pleasure to be able to visit them in this enthralling first installment of J.D.L Rosell’s The Runewar Saga.
Thanks again to Storytellers on Tour for allowing us to take part in this spectacular tour!
J.D.L. Rosell is the author of the bestselling Legend of Tal series, The Runewar Saga, The Famine Cycle series, and the Godslayer Rising trilogy. He has earned an MA in creative writing and has previously written as a ghostwriter.
Always drawn to the outdoors, he ventures out into nature whenever he can to indulge in his hobbies of hiking and photography. Most of the time, he can be found curled up with a good book at home with his fiancée and two cats, Zelda and Abenthy. Find out more (and claim a free book) at www.jdlrosell.com.