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Winter Be My Shield (Children of the Black Sun Book 1) Kindle Edition
Sierra has a despised and forbidden gift - she raises power from the suffering of others.
Enslaved by the king's torturer, Sierra escapes, barely keeping ahead of Rasten, the man sent to hunt her down. Then she falls in with dangerous company: the fugitive Prince Cammarian and his crippled foster-brother, Isidro.
But Rasten is not the only enemy hunting them in the frozen north and as Sierra's new allies struggle to identify friend from foe, Rasten approaches her with a plan to kill the master they both abhor. Sierra is forced to decide what price she is willing to pay for her freedom and her life ...
Original, dramatic and unputdownable, Winter Be My Shield is the first in an epic fantasy trilogy from brilliant new Australian talent Jo Spurrier.
'Unlikely heroes, villains you will cheer for, and cold that eats your bones. Winter Be My Shield will take you to an unforgiving place, but you won't want to leave it.' Robin Hobb
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About the Author
- ASIN : B00760GICG
- Publisher : Voyager (1 February 2012)
- Language : English
- File size : 1781 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 590 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 211,198 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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Top reviews from other countries
BOOK SERIES: I'm not happy about the proliferation of book series in the publishing world (especially in self-published books), because I really, really dislike being left hanging. I also don't like being manipulated into spending more money; it makes me grumpy. In spite of the fact that this book does just that, I will say that at least it doesn't leave you almost literally mid-sentence, the way some (mostly self-published) books do.
EDITING: I no longer read books by authors who don't bother getting their work properly edited, because I don't want to have to be constantly reworking novels in my head while I'm reading them. This author's work is generally very good, although I find the the pacing can be a bit tedious here and there. So I was actually surprised to notice the one or two very noticeable typos I came upon in a mostly very well-edited piece of writing ("sheading," for instance, rather than "shedding"). And I truly wish every author would be forced to learn the difference in usage between "might" and "may," because it makes my skin crawl to see it used incorrectly so often!
GENERAL: This was a satisfying read, overall. I think this author's characterizations are excellent. I loved the blending of positive and negative character traits in both heroes and antagonists, making them both real and believable--and also making this story rather unusual, since the distinctions between the bad guys and the good guys are more nuanced than usual. This author has crafted an unusual and generally well-told story, and I think it's worth reading.
I had to stop reading it about the time the character who had been crippled by merciless torture, and was close to death, is being tortured again by another group. The sheer, unrelenting cruelty and torture in these books was too much for me, (on top of reading the news every day). And it seems that most of the victims in the books are the most helpless characters, already barely surviving.
Don't we have enough horrible violence in real life without inventing more?
STRONG, DRIVEN CHARACTERS
The first thing that captivated me were the characters. Everyone was simply trying to persevere in a harsh, unforgiving world where mages were killed and persecuted while normal human prejudice, stupidity and bigotry ruled the land. The plot was gritty and unforgiving in letting the reader into a world of political rivalry, torture, rape (of men and women), depravity, greed and maliciousness. Mage battles and death are descriptive and cruel. You can almost hear the bones crack, smell the singed hair and flesh, taste the iron in the air as blood runs into the snow, feel the squishy intestines. Seriously, don't eat when reading this.
When all the main characters came together, something lit like a spark and everything fell into place. The readers know that together these travelers/allies/enemies/frien-emies would change the world.
The heroine is smart and clever, extremely volatile in her talents as a mostly self-taught mage, but she was not one dimensional. You come to understand her need for human contact. Her compassion for others, except her master, is almost palpable. He sullied her soul but she is not broken. What fascinated me the most was her connection to the Blood Mage apprentice, Rasten, and their catalytic effect on each other.
A FASCINATING ANTI-HERO
Rasten is perhaps my favorite and he is quite a typical evil henchman at first. But as you find out more about him, the psychology behind him, the reader begins to understand his layers. He is sadistic, addicted to the power and has no qualms in killing men. He has raped, killed, maimed and destroyed hope with precision and detachment at the orders of his master.
Yet amid his twisted personality he has a dry sense of humor and surprisingly, an unmistakeable even if thin, compassionate streak. Even if it's to further his ends, he is protective over the heroine. Even if you dislike Rasten, you can't dislike him completely, and you have a feeling before it's all over he will continue to redeem himself, maybe even commit self-sacrifice.
DECIDEDLY DULL SIDE-CHARACTERS
What I didn't like about the story was the annoying side characters. They were extremely one-dimensional and only served as plot devices. I didn't care about the people who traveled with Cam, people of the Wolf Clan, or the people at the Akharian encampment. If they fell into a hole and died I would feel nothing. I found myself skipping through most their irrelevant conversation and pages (and pages) of exposition to get back to Rasten, Isidro, Cam and Sierra.
LOTS AND LOTS OF SUFFERING
I don't know if I would keep reading book 2. I have a feeling the author will make the characters suffer more before the end. We haven't really been formally introduced to Kell, the Blood Mage, after all. They have suffered enough in my opinion. For empathic readers, like me, or sensitive readers, continuing with the story may take you to darker places you're not willing to enter. Since the real world is also filled with depravity and atrocity I read to take me away from it, not to drive myself into depression.
So definitely not for the faint of heart.
My only warning is there are several brief scenes of graphic injury and violent sexual encounters throughout the series, that may not be for everyone. However, these scenes are infrequent and, in my opinion, they are not gratuitous as that they are important to the plot.