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.
Let me begin by saying, despite some things that didn’t quite agree with me, I did have a great time reading this book!
Set on a bleak and frozen backdrop, Cold from the North tells the tale of a warrior who is forced to lead his tribe south following an impending invasion from the enemies of the North.
Ross really sets the landscape of this world from the very first page, and I could feel the cold biting my fingers as I delved in (or maybe it’s because I’m too stingy to put the heating on?!) I could visualise the barren North and it really helped me to understand the desperation the characters felt.
For me, this was a plot-driven story – very quickly our main characters are thrust into a position where they are forced to make a difficult decision: stay and fight for their homeland that will result in certain death for all, or take the perilous journey south with no certainties of what might await them.
I loved the journey across the mountain tops as they ventured South (the treacherous Widow’s Trail). I could sense the danger and we got a glimpse into their enemy as they were followed – it was nail-biting adventure and it kept me turning the page.
Around 40% in the pacing began to slow as they reached their destination and adjusted to new surroundings. I have read criticisms of this section from other reviewers, but personally, this was a highlight for me. This change in pace gave opportunity to understand more about the world, the motivations of the enemy, and the problems that the characters were about to embark upon.
I did feel that this story would have benefitted from some further exploration into the key themes. We are presented with a magic system, but as we are introduced to this at a similar time to our characters, I feel like we aren’t given enough lore behind it to understand it. What little we did learn I felt was enough at the time, until the magic was presented in a completely different way further in the book without explanation. To me, this felt like a cop-out way to fit the story and led me to think there are no rules to the magic system which ultimately left me a bit disappointed. That being said, one of my favourite scenes in the book featured use of the magic (unexplained) so provided this is explained further in coming books, there is no reason why I won’t learn to love it.
I also felt that the writing had a habit of telling rather than showing. Take for instance our MC, throughout the story we are continually told of his previous great successes, at how his mind is his greatest tool, how he understands strategical warfare and how he is a seasoned warrior – and yet – at any opportunity where this could be showcased I felt he fell flat. His choices, I personally felt were a little dumb (despite constant praise from fellow characters), in his fight scenes he was rescued both times, and his master plan didn’t feel too… masterful. In the end I just didn’t warm to him and he felt more of a Johnny English character than lovable hero.
Despite my criticisms, this was an enjoyable read. I flew through it and I found the plot to be completely addictive. The story itself is very easy to follow, which gave my mind ample opportunity to speculate about potential upcoming theories (of which I have a few!)
It is a solid debut into what looks to be a promising trilogy. I’m looking forward to beginning the second book and seeing if any of my theories unfold… It’s a real page-turner, is gripping, and has a very easy-to-follow prose that makes it accessible to all.
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