Scoville Units Unite

02 May

Reread: The Castle of the Winds – Winter of the World Part 4

The Castle of the Winds is the fourth book in a 6 book series by Michael Scott Rohan and the first part of a 2 book arc.

See review of book 1 – The Anvil of Ice, book 2 – The Forge In The Forest and book 3 – The Hammer of the Sun.

After a short break I picked up again re-reading the Winter of the World series. Book 4 (and 5 and i think 6 too) is a prequel to the original trilogy. Returning after a 10 year break Rohan returns to the world just a few generations after Vayde had arrived in the West.

This books protagonists are Kunrad, a mastersmith and his two apprentices Olvar and Gille. The two apprentices really just play a minor support role throughout the book which is unfortunate given than book 5 follows their adventures a few years later (spoiler, they don’t die in this one).

Kunrad is an interesting character and the entire book is about his growth and change. Unfortunately the balance is a bit skewed into discussing him, leaving everyone else as barely fleshed out at all.

The book starts in Athalby, in the north east and shows the mastersmith working on a piece of armour with the help of his two apprentices. The town and area are gradually explored as well as the forthcoming fair. Merthian, a southern Lord arrives at this fair, becomes obsessed with the armour being made by Kunrad and robs him of it. Kunrad chases after them, first going north to the ice and then south.

The chase is interesting, showing the politics of the time as they come upon towns robbed by Merthian too and try to get aid. Eventually ending up in the marshlands having been captured by corsairs. This is where there is a lull in the book. They are imprisoned and forced to smith (sounds familiar from previous books). Then using their skill manage to escape. Whilst still fleeing they encounter a party on the road comprising of Princess Alais Kermorvan and her guards. They help fend off the pursuing corsairs. They carry on together to the nearest Lords castle (the castle in the winds) and Kunrad is again, captured and being told he has to smith for his captor. The recycling of plot lines from previous books and even chapters does not work for me.

To leave out further spoilers Alais is from the family of royalty from Kerys we encountered in the earlier trilogy although I can’t remember if the characters from this book were named in that trilogy – given Kunrad starts work on the Great Causeway it’s possible they were but the significance was not known at the time.

One section I found amusing was that towards their last scenes in the book the Princess Alais just wants to go home to the house she grew up in which had a lemon tree in the garden. Given this came out 2 years after A Game of Thrones and the Appendix also describes the world as these realms of Ice and fire this has to be a deliberate nod?

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