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FROM WINTER'S ASHES

Decent at the start, but leaves much to be desired (through Ch. 8)

By Arcturus, member

May 27, 2018: From Winter’s Ashes is solid for a webnovel. In particular, the characters are particularly well-fleshed out with complex and realistic histories and motivations. Further, they show progression throughout the series that follows from the ongoing events. The prose was also quite solid and flowed well.

However, the plot and setting of the novel are something of a mess. The plot of the story just doesn’t work as a believable series of events. At a certain point, it made no sense that the knights were still alive after everything they had gone through. It required serious suspension of disbelief to continue reading. Further, there were serious flaws in the plans of the necromancers after a very solid start that frankly also made no sense.in the scheme of the plot. The foreshadowing laid down by the author was also painfully obvious and didn’t help his plot at all.

The setting is also something of a garbled mess. There doesn’t seem to be a real system of magic in place that has any real consistency and it feels quite hastily thrown together, with new elements being added as we go along. This also follows in the political and cultural regions described throughout, with minimal real depth that characterizes these locales, and instead falling to hackneyed stereotypes.

Altogether, I decided to give the serial three stars for what I’ve read so far. Definitely readable and it is enjoyable, but quite flawed and leaving much to be desired.

1 of 2 members found this review helpful.
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FROM WINTER'S ASHES

An emotional blast

By Stable, author of The Archive Of Unusual Events

Aug 29, 2016: With the new book in this series just starting (and after I’ve demolished the whole thing so far over a weekend binge) this seems like an auspicious time for a review.

Winter’s Ashes is a joy to read – the writing is solid and the world behind the story is deep, well thought out and interesting. It’s your classic high-fantasy world in some respects, with elves, dwarves, centaurs and numerous beasties revealed so far, but the thing that I love is that those aren’t the point of the story. The elves are elfin, the dwarves are short, we all know that so let’s move on. The details of culture, magic and physiology can then emerge naturally from the story, so the reader must be a little bit of a detective to piece them all together – if you are interested, otherwise just take it as it comes and hold on for the ride.

Being a detective suits the rest of the story too, with a lovely noir feel to much of it. There is some definite grit and the characters, especially the main character, are suitably damaged. It does toe the line of whether the characters are too damaged to then pull off the heroics that they have to, but at least for me it’s mostly still on the good side of that line. There’s plenty of twists and cleverness from the main character and others as well, which are really enjoyable.

The villains seem just a touch too villainous to me, their motivation is touched on, but doesn’t quite seem convincing enough to be a mass-murderer. The big bad is still in the shadows, so we don’t know anything of what he’s about apart from being mysterious and bad. They mostly make cameos though, we don’t hear a lot of the villainous side of the story. It is suggested that just being a necromancer is enough to turn you into a dirtbag over time, but that sounds like propaganda.

Overall it seems like a highly professional story that deserves more attention that it’s had so far – that may be down to a two-person team writing and editing everything before it’s posted, so it’s already more polished than most web serials before it hits the web. The first chapter of the second novel From Spring’s Storms went up last week and the twists and turns have started already. If you like your fantasy smart and your winters icy now’s a good time to start reading.

3 of 3 members found this review helpful.
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FROM WINTER'S ASHES

Epic Fantasy

By Lee Carlon, member

Aug 24, 2016: From Winter’s Ashes is a novel that was produced as a web serial and is now complete and available on the site and the there is a promise of the second novel coming soon. The story follows Detective Knight Heather Blackthorn and is set in a world of everyday magic. I particularly enjoyed the festival in the first arc that showed children having fun with their magic and responsible adults standing on guard to step in and quell anything that got out of hand.

The writing style is familiar and immersive. Readers looking to sink themselves into a new world should check this one out. Other reviews have mentioned a similarity with Brandon Sanderson, I’ve only read a little Sanderson, but the comparison rings true for.

The chapters are on the long side for me in a web serial, but they feel right when view through the lens of epic fantasy so this is merely a personal preference on my part. The world feels incredibly well thought out and solid, and by solid I mean that it feels like a real three-dimensional world.

Who’d like it? This is one for fans of thick fantasy novels. In addition to the first book in the series there are also several short stories and a codex for readers who want more details about the world. I can easily imagine fans of the genre losing themselves in this one and I will be recommending it to my reading friends.

Presentation This is a minor point and easily worked around, when I read From Winter’s Ashes on my computer the presentation works really well, but when I switch to my iPad the text is too small for me. Again easily worked around by switching to the reader app, but then you lose the presentation as it was intended.

What could be improved? Aside from the mobile reading experience (again a minor thing), I think this serial is really well targeted at its intended audience and fans of epic fantasy should give it a go.

4 of 4 members found this review helpful.
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