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.
I received a copy of Cold from the North in exchange for an honest review. I’m always a bit nervous about this, so I choose my review copies very carefully. Luckily, this was a fantastic debut, that lurked in some safe fantasy-trope waters, but delivered in some surprising and intriguing ways.
Cold from the North begins in Broadheim, a Nordic inspired land, that is suffering from a much colder winter than usual. We’re quickly introduced to Ogulf a young viking and his friend Melcun who posses some interesting abilities that are rather frowned upon. A rather mysterious and dangerous enemy is lurking on the horizon, flattening everything in it’s path. This causes the main characters to quickly be thrown into the deep end, deciding it’s best to run and regroup rather than fight an unknown enemy. Now, some of this might sounds familiar, which it is, but the plot was driven forward at a perfect pace and I felt myself easily drawn into the world and its characters. The Nordic/Viking theme was also never lost in the book and at times I felt that cold that the characters felt.
Rowen, the father of Ogulf and leader of his town, steps up to lead his people to safety, but how safe is safe, when you’re running from such a terrifying foe? Taking refuge in a neighbouring country the main cast begin preparing and training for an inevitable war. All of this occurs very early in the book, so that the plot felt highly action packed and really drew me in. Despite a small lull in the middle of the book, the plot quickly picks up again and throws the characters into a multitude of dangerous situations and some fantastic battle scenes.
The two main characters were extremely likeable, yet showed that edge one has when one grows up in such a dangerous and cold world. At times I felt their friendship and really rooted for them to survive. Although there didn’t feel like there was a huge amount of character building, the characters drove the plot forward and faced each situation no matter the danger, giving them a hero like feel, which I loved. I also got the feeling, by the end, that there might be some potentially huge character reveals in book two. Some of the supporting cast were also excellent, and although they didn’t have the hugest part, I am looking forward to what they have to offer.
The writing made this one of those novels that flows extremely well, carrying the story and making character interaction feel real. I could easily put this novel down and pick it straight back to once again be immersed into the story. There was a perfect amount of description aiding the world-building, but not to much to bog me down and slow my reading.
I would highly recommend this for any fans of viking-esque fantasy, especially if you have previously read books by John Gwynne. With it ending on such a satisfying note, I really look forward to getting into the sequel.