May 022012
 

I often approach the final book in a series with some trepidation.  Will it live up to the rest of the series, will the author be able to create enough impact for a finale but also finish it in a way that leaves you satisfied? I’d really enjoyed the five previous books that were set in the Winter Kingdoms, so I had both high hopes and mild anxiety when I picked up this final book.

I was in tears by page five so that put my fears to a sad rest!

Martin has managed to create a book utterly in keeping with the rest of the series, with the same engaging writing style.  The characters I love so much are present and pressed at every turn.  With the characters so scattered in different countries, it could have easily become confusing as what was happening and where but the author managed to keep it very clear and progression between segments felt very natural and smooth.

A very mild complaint I had from The Sworn was that Kiara was kept out of most of the story due to pregnancy and this time it was Carina’s turn.  I felt the loss of her input but in the end it felt more real, that a heavily pregnant woman couldn’t take part in a brutal war.  I’m glad that little snippets of her were included as it would just not have been the same without her.

The story doesn’t let up in intensity or pace, with Martin driving my emotions as a reader as hard as she does her characters.  It’s full of the things that are guaranteed to tug at my heart strings; fighting against the odds, heroic sacrifice, honour, duty, love and grief.  Many authors use them, only a few get it so right I end up holding my breath at crucial points, crying with joy or heartbreak.  It’s a gift and one that Gail Z. Martin has in abundance.

While The Dread marks the end of the two amazing series and these characters for now, I’m glad to say we aren’t yet done with the Winter Kingdoms!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Gail Z. Martin
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Jul 082011
 

While plague sweeps across the Winter Kingdoms, some nations barely survived because of famine and loss from the war.  A dark power rises across the northern sea, looking to use their weakened state to wage his own battle.  That dark power that seeks to free an ancient enemy and only The Sworn can see what is coming.

It was good to see the major characters from the last series again, even if not much time had passed in the world from the end of Dark Lady’s Chosen.  They are just as consistently written and as likeable as before and it was a bit like greeting old friends.

The book started quite slowly as the scene for this new series was set.  Meeting and getting to know the new characters took a little time but was worth it.  As with the others, Martin writes her new heroes in such a way that you can’t help but like them. The pace did pick up eventually and was well matched with the story as events unfolded.

The plot was a little confusing at first with the new characters, and the focus jumped around a bit between them all.  I did feel  though, as if it was almost a reflection of what the characters were going through and their own confusion.  In my imagination it’s like a huge circle with everyone far apart on the edges but as you read on, the circle gets smaller and smaller until people meet up, join forces and as knowledge and experiences get shared, they start working out what was really going on.

And I have to say… what seems to be going on is huge!  By the end of the book I was desperate to know what happens next!

There are some very sad and poignant moments in The Sworn, and in a subtle way you get prepared for them, but it doesn’t lessen the overall impact.

I still love the way magic works in these books, the variety of forms, plus the religious aspects still intrigue me and Tris’ unique power is always fascinating as he continues to learn who and what he is.

I was disappointed that Kiara and Carina didn’t really play a huge part, other than supporters, due to pregnancy.   While it is a natural and expected thing, it almost felt like it was a deliberate ploy to keep more characters out of the mix.  Having said that, I get the feeling Tris and Kiara’s firstborn is going to play an important role in the rest of the series, and the reasoning for Kiara getting pregnant again so quickly was sound.  Kiara is going to have to play a part in the next book, pregnant or not, so maybe in the end it’s a question of setting the stage.

Can’t wait for the next book in this exciting fantasy series!

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Gail Z. Martin
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)