A gritty and epic adventure to appeal to fans of Mark Lawrence, Andrzej Sapkowski and Joe Abercrombie – The Winter Road is a fantasy novel which remembers that battles leave all kinds of scars.
The greatest empire of them all began with a road.
The Circle – a thousand miles of perilous forests and warring clans. No one has ever tamed such treacherous territory before, but ex-soldier Teyr Amondsen, veteran of a hundred battles, is determined to try.
With a merchant caravan protected by a crew of skilled mercenaries, Amondsen embarks on a dangerous mission to forge a road across the untamed wilderness that was once her home. But a warlord rises in the wilds of the Circle, uniting its clans and terrorising its people. Teyr’s battles may not be over yet . . .
All roads lead back to war.
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But there’s a knot, must be in all of us, mustn’t it, a protectiveness when we think of the fields, faces and songs that rise in our memories on our thinking of home.
There’s a steep price to pay, both in coin and blood, in making sure the paths that lead home are safe for those seeking their bloodlands. For the Circle is vast and rife with a wildness and dangers and mysteries that none until now have attempted to tame. Teyr Amondsen, ex-soldier of renown, hopes to use the wealth she has gained over the years of countless battles to build a road that will unite the fractured clans and bring secure and fair trade to all. Shortly after embarking on her perilous mission, she bears witness to the ruthless acts of a merciless warlord who intends to unify the Circle through fear, forcing her to change tactics, only to be met with crushing loss. Regardless of the trials she faces, Teyr’s fortitude will see her through the cold, dark winter, and she means to see her dreams come to fruition, no matter the cost.
The Winter Road is a brutally and beautifully intense, emotional tale of perseverance, of revenge, and of love and loyalty. While I anticipated the pages to be oozing with action and soaked in blood, I don’t think I was truly prepared for the level of sentimentality that formed the backbone of this stunning book. It was traumatic and harrowing, but you never lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel, even when it appears all hope is lost. It begins with chapters alternating between the past and the present, smartly and comfortably submerging the reader into a world with an already-developed history, then blooms into an epic journey peppered with battles, deceit, and aid in unexpected places.
Selby’s characterization is absolutely incredible – he has created some of the most in-depth and three-dimensional characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of being introduced to. With a relatively large cast and quite a few names to remember, I cannot think of even one that felt shallow in the slightest. Teyr is, by far, my favorite female lead that has ever graced the pages of any fantasy story I’ve read over the years. She’s strong, honest, with a drive that surely causes envy amongst her peers, however, she has weaknesses that are so often overlooked when creating a genuinely badass warrior, making her feel completely human and, in turn, fragile. Khiese’s development is also brilliant. He is everything opposite expected of a warlord – small and slight, but with a sharp mind and as much tenacity as our leading lady. They are each a formidable enemy to the other, making the conflict authentic and engaging. Each of Selby’s supporting characters, no matter how inconsequential they may seem, play a huge role in fleshing out and advancing this story, often adding another note of emotional turmoil that draws you in deeper.
Observing the world through the eyes of Teyr Amondon, we’re fully immersed in a turbulent and treacherous setting, where only the strong survive, and oftentimes those meet resistance, as well. Throughout you’ll find gems that vividly depict the harshness of the land and the misfortunes the characters meet.
The furs have been made to fit me, for winter comes to the Circle and it rouses the ghosts of these lands, howling over the rocks, clawing like a bear.
We suffer the freeze. We rejoice in the thaw. We cross the Circle and feel the mud underneath our fingernails and smell the sharp aroma of plant needed for brews. It is a world so gorgeously painted and memorable, and one that definitely envelopes readers with its vastness.
The Winter Road was one of my most anticipated books of 2018 and the only disappointment was in myself for waiting so long to finally get to it – we’ll just have to label it one of my favorite reads of 2019. I’m excited to see if the author returns us to this world in the future, because there are plenty of rich aspects and interesting people I would definitely love to learn more about. If you’re on the hunt for something dark with a lot of heart, seek no further, this is the one you’re looking for. I highly recommend.