By: D.W. Ross
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Publisher: D.W. Ross
Cold from the North is a nicely paced, well-developed epic Norse fantasy. In his debut novel D.W. Ross has managed to give us an interesting cast of characters and detailed world building. We are introduced to Ogulf Harlsbane and his friend Melcun who live in Keltbran. It was once a thriving town until the cold came. It’s been two years of winter, and no end in sight. As we walk with Ogulf and Melcun, you can feel the cold sinking into your bones and despair of the town that once prospered off the land. From the north comes an evil invading army that swarms over the land like locusts, leaving no one alive. They search for the Onyxborn, one that will bring the rule of evil upon all of the land. From the cold in the north to southern shores, we follow Ogulf and Melcan as they search for an army that can save them from the Onyxborn. In stark contrast to the cold, barren Keltbran, those who choose to leave travel to the beautiful city of Leufmort to escape the invaders. The travel from Keltbran was fraught with treacherous travel and Mr. Ross does an excellent job of taking us on this journey and feeling the danger. We feel the ominous threat as the invading army moves closer, wondering how they are going to fight this threat. Ogulf and Melcan leave Leufmort to seek help from the Princess Feda, who herself is embroiled in a civil war with her uncle. If they can help her defeat her uncle, Feda’s army will help. The battle scenes here are very well done. They are gritty and real. I thought this was a strong point in the book, the exceptional battle scenes. The author does a very good job of pulling us into the story.
Summary (from Storytellers on Tour)
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.
The World of Cold from the North
I felt that the strength of the book was in the world building. The bleakness of the winter was written very effectively. The despair and cold could be felt. It contrasted beautifully with the southern city of Luefmort, with its fountains, gardens and warmth. One of the big differences in the two cities was that the north prepares for war, while the south has known relative peace. An invading army would be met with little resistance. It is interesting to note the bleakness of the north has had it’s share of strife and the cities are fortified. The southern cities, with their amazing architecture, markets and pristine nature, has known little war. They do not prepare for it, and the coming invaders will surely decimate Luefmort.
The battle scenes are excellent, particularly in the civil war between Feda and her uncle. War comes with blood, gore and violence. Mr. Ross holds nothing back. I expect battles in fantasy of this nature to be gritty and real, not neat and clean. This was another aspect of the book where the author does an excellent job of pulling the reader in.
While Ogulf and Melcan were great characters, I would have liked to see a little more growth in the characters. Much of the narrative focuses on the invading army and the Onyxborn, so I felt this was more a plot-driven book. We certainly feel the anxiety and desperation as they try to find a way to deal with the invading force. Ogulf is an excellent tactician and warrior. Melcan does have a secret he hides for a portion of the book. However, I would have liked to read more of their internal struggles. I know this is the first in a series, and I do look forward to reading more about Ogulf and Melcan. I am sure we will see them grow as the series does.
Of course, there were many characters in the book. Overall, the characters and the plot together make Cold From the North an enjoyable read.
As a debut novel, Cold From the North is a great entry into the to epic fantasy genre. The world building was excellent and drew the reader into the setting of the novel. The diverse places within the book were very well written. The battle scenes were excellent and just as they should be-gritty, brutal, and real. Just like war is-it’s not neat and clean. The characters were good and I look forward to more character building as the series progresses. The pacing was good, action intermixed with evenly with other portions of the plot. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. The story is gripping and I think the series will progress as we discover more about the Onyxborn and Ogulf and Melcun.