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Friday, October 22, 2010

"Wintertide" by Michael Sullivan (Reviewed by Liviu Suciu and Cindy Hannikman)

Official Michael Sullivan Website
Order "Wintertide" HERE (print) or HERE(Kindle)
Read FBC Review of The Crown Conspiracy
Read FBC Review of Avempartha
Read FBC Review of Nypron Rising
Read FBC Review of The Emerald Storm

INTRODUCTION:In the space of two years, Michael Sullivan has moved from a small press debut author that was featured in one of my first "Indie Spotlight Reviews" to a "name" in the fantasy field who sold-out his first novel and is getting both critical acclaim and fan appreciation. In my 2009 end-of-the-year rankings, Avempartha went head to head against the "big names" and made both my Top 2009 Books list and Cindy's Top 2009 Book list, while The Crown Conspiracy made Mihir's Top 2009 Reads too.

"Nyphron Rising"
started the epic part of the series which had
a lot of ground prepared in The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha two mostly standalone adventures, while in "The Emerald Storm" the series ramped up considerably and the world expanded; the twist ending made "Wintertide" one of my top titles of the second part of the year. So very high expectations, but even so I was not prepared for the punches that Wintertide pulls which left me in need of complete reread of all five books to get an inkling where the series might be going in its finale...

FORMAT/CLASSIFICATION:"Wintertide" stands at about 330 pages divided into 21 named chapters that follow several main POV's: Hadrian, Royce, Arista and Amilia, the lady in waiting and "mouthpiece" of Empress Modina as well as a young street kid Mince who is a new character. All the colorful characters from previous novels like Regent Saldur, Sentinel Guy, Archie, Marius reappear and there are several other characters that grow in importance here. The novel starts with two detailed maps of the world and ends with the most emotional and twisty chapter of the series so far.

While "Nyphron Rising" started getting into the heart of the main story of the series and The Emerald Sea thickened the plot and expanded the world, Wintertide returns to the heart of the action in the Imperial capital of Aquesta, where the two regents are preparing to celebrate the marriage of an Empress and the rebirth of an Empire with the burning of a witch as closing entertainment.

As its two predecessors from the heart of the series, "Wintertide" is adventure fantasy in an epic context.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Liviu:"‘Black queen takes king. White rooks retreat. Black queen captures bishop. White rook to bishop’s four, threatening. Check. White’s pawn takes queen and bishop. Jade’s tomb, full face."

While a bit spoilerish at least if you know what the above means, the paragraph quoted is something that makes a book worth reading by itself; of course getting there and understanding it takes a while and Wintertide has much more, from action, to intrigue, to heart-breaking drama and a lot of subplots closure. The big picture becomes even more intriguing since quite a lot of assumptions are challenged by the end of the novel. And there is only one more installment to go...

Since it is book 5 and I strongly recommend reading at least the previous two installments to fully appreciate this one, the only thing I will mention about the story is that as opposed to the world expanding The Emerald Storm, Wintertide returns to a more compact geographic location and urban/castle action including a knight tourney that offers quite a lot of comic relief to the tension buildup as Wintertide (the event) gets closer and closer.

The dramatic ending of the novel made me go back and reread books 1-4 for clues about where the author may take the series in Percepliquis, and I made a big list of "things to watch for/possibilities" but the one thing I am sure of is that the series ending will be one of those "put down everything and read immediately" novels.

Wintertide (A++) is the second top-rated combo (with The Emerald Storm) of 2010 for me and establish the series as one of the best traditional epic fantasies currently being published and a top 10 novel of mine.

Cindy: After completing Emerald Storm I wanted the next book right away. After a few months of waiting the wait is finally over. One thing about authors is that they make you wait and wait for books and then you get the book and there's a feeling of let down. Let me assure you if you've been following this series at all you won't be let down.

At this point in the series we're so far into it that it's hard to do an analysis of the plot and characters because part of the appeal for the series is the growth of the characters and plots as you read.

Wintertide is everything that I've come to love and expect about anything written by Sullivan. It has all the characters that I'm familiar with. After having them fleshed out a bit in the previous book everything just seemed to flow and come together.

There is a sense of more to come, yet Wintertide has a feeling of the end is almost near. While reading I was impressed with everything but at the same time I couldn't shake the feeling that this series that I have come to love is starting to wind down.

Without being all dramatic the ending will keep you hanging and waiting for the next book.

Like Liviu I really feel that this is one of those series that has a place in the fantasy world. I know it's a series that I will gladly be returning to time and time again. Sullivan has earned my respect and admiration with all the work that he's achieved and I can't wait to see what he pulls out of his hat for the final book. If these past few books are any indication I'm sure it'll be a memorable ending. Well worth the read and time to look into the series and the next book is a must read for myself!


Anonymous said...

I've ordered my version of Wintertide - and can't wait to receive it - this has been one of the funest books of recent memory and I'm on the edge of me seat trying to determine where it will all end up. There are many possibilities and its fun to ponder them.

Liviu said...

I know how you feel :) I hit the buy button on the Kindle version the moment I saw it - and I was checking almost daily - though I knew I would get a pdf review copy (next day, but the book was mostly read by then) and a print review copy (some days later)

Booker said...

I started reading Sullivan's work based on one of your earlier reviews and I haven't been disappointed yet. Really looking forward to getting my hands on a copy...

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

This is really an amazing series. I have to thank you for introducing me to it. I have really enjoyed this whole series so far and can not wait for the next one, or the last one to come out. :) Thank you for introducing me to an amazing series.

Liviu said...

Thank you for your comments; I am happy to see Mr. Sullivan getting the recognition he richly deserves.


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