Wintertide (The Riyria Revelations #5) by Michael J. Sullivan
Publication Date: January 31, 2012 (first published January 1, 2012)
Edition: Paperback, 932 pages
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
This book was an emotional roller coaster that hit me right in the ‘feels’.
A FORCED WEDDING. A DOUBLE EXECUTION. TWO THIEVES HAVE OTHER PLANS.
The New Empire intends to celebrate its victory over the Nationalists with a day that will never be forgotten. On the high holiday of Wintertide, they plan to execute two traitors (Degan Gaunt and the Witch of Melengar) as well as force the Empress into a marriage of their own design. But they didn’t account for Royce and Hadrian finally locating the Heir of Novron—or the pair’s desire to wreak havoc on the New Empire’s carefully crafted scheme.
This story had my emotions all over the place. I was happy, sad, excited, nervous, worried, angry, sympathetic, shocked – just about every emotion I can think of had some appearance. I don’t want to say the MJS ‘toyed’ or ‘manipulated’ me as a reader (that might give the wrong connotation he was cruel or mean on purpose), but the situations and scenes he placed the characters in, and the way the story was unfolding… it was a beautiful.
After the unfortunate ending for Riyria in Tur Del Fur, we find them in Aquesta as Wintertide is about to begin. Upon arrival, they learn details of what the New Empire has been up to. This causes Royce to head up towards Medford in search of Gwen, and leaves Hadrian alone to try and infiltrate the castle.
In the castle itself, Nimbus and Amilia are busy trying to prepare the Empress for her upcoming marriage. Amilia learns just how difficult and stressful being a noblewoman can be, and Nimbus is entrusted with an unexpected task. Also in the castle, there is still Arista… locked all alone… in that dark, black dungeon…
What made The Emerald Ship and now Wintertide better than rest of the books in the series, was that there was a source of major conflict being brought to focus. While in Emerald the conflict was more drama/suspense of action – the trying to live on ship; the exploration in Calis; what happened in the dwarf tower; Arista’s journey in Aquesta. In Wintertide though, it was a conflict of choice and decision.
Michael places the characters this time in situations where they don’t know what is ‘right’ to do. Even us as the readers, who know more than the characters, still don’t know what the right or best decision to make is. You sit there and feel for them because they have to make these decisions that sometimes, is essentially choosing between the less of two evils.
This would not have been possible or had nearly the same effect if we hadn’t slowly been learning the pasts of both Hadrian and Royce, and had our supporting main characters, not each had their own arcs in separate books. We have spent five books, and 1,500+ pages with them. At this point, they are not just characters in a story. They are beginning to feel like people.
I spoke about how impressed I was with the strong female character developments in my last review. Well, umm… I think I may have spoke to soon… because the way Modina steps up to the plate, and how Amilia fights through everything that she has goes through – NOW, I can say how impressed I am. To do so before the story unfolds with Modina, and before watching Amelia’s character’s take more of a focus here – it would be unfair not to include them in my reasoning.
A very good ending this time around (like always). Take that heart-pumping, action-packed suspense from Emerald, and mix with this emotional anxiety we get in here Winteride, and that’s about what it will be like. The last 30 pages are ridiculous.
If you’re reading this, and haven’t picked up this series yet, you are severely missing out.
But hey, what is the deal with these dwarves?
These books are just good fun. 🙂 Glad you are enjoying them.
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Yes, they are!
One of my favorite series.
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Mine too! Royce and Hadrian – great pair of characters.
I’m looking forward to the start of The First Empire series next year.
Sweet, almost to the last review. I do love how these books ramp up to the grand finale 🙂
And the grand finale is very good!
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