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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.

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FROM WINTER'S ASHES

Worldbuilding done well, but takes its time

By TCC Edwards, author of Far Flung

Aug 7, 2016: The first thing that grabbed my attention when reading From Winter’s ashes was the worldbuilding. The narrative begins with Heather, a detective in a fantasy world, as she takes on her latest case. There were a lot of little details I noticed built into her take on the world; clues about how magic works, facets of the world’s politics and society, and the kinds of crimes she has to investigate. The description is blended well into the narrative, so that it doesn’t feel like exposition.

There is a lot of detail about magic and the society to get through. While on the whole, it is well integrated into the narrative, some parts seemed a bit bogged down by exposition. The detective hero, Heather Blackthorne, also takes her time to really develop. She is interesting enough to keep me reading, but I really want to see her character develop more and express a wider range of emotions.

Despite some problems with the pacing, it’s a well-written serial and definitely worth the time to check it out. It’s very well polished, with regular updates that address typos and grammar errors. The website is also very crisp, clean, and easy to navigate.

If you want to try some good noir blended with epic fantasy, From Winter’s Ashes is definitely worth checking out.

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