Today is my stop on the Storytellers on Tour Blog Tour for Cold from the North by D.W. Ross, the first in the Onyxborn Chronicle series.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review, all views are my own.’*
Driven by the promise of an ancient prophecy which will bring the dark ways of an old god back to power and prominence, an army of invaders swarms Ogulf Harlsbane’s homeland slaughtering all those who oppose them.
Along with his people, Ogulf must seek refuge from this savage force. In his search of sanctuary, he is tasked with finding the one person who can put a stop to the onslaught.
Doing so will send him across lands and seas, have him and his closest friend navigate the intricacies of a civil war, and try to win the help of the princess fighting for her throne. If he fails, darkness will prevail and the reign of the Onyxborn will begin.
It has certainly been a good couple of weeks for reading Nordic-inspired fantasy on the blog, and Cold From The North which had been on my radar for a while was no exception. I’m just sad that it took me so long to get to it, but also excited that I won’t have to wait too long for the sequel.
The worldbuilding was one of my favourite aspects of this book. Ross has built a richly detailed and believable world with a real sense of history and culture, from the practical aspects such as names to the way the settlements and people are set up, to the lore and tales of the world. It was all the little details that I loved, and there was a good balance of not letting the world offset the plot but enhance it. However, it was the history that really caught my imagination, and as much as really enjoyed the plot and narrative, I would love to have more of that history. It was always easy to sink back into this world whenever I picked the book up, and it was fantastic to have such an immersive world, and there is a lovely map to aid with that at the front of the book – which helps as we travel throughout this world with the characters.
The magic in this world is quite mysterious and limited in terms of who is able to use it. Melcun is our main window into this aspect in the beginning, and I have to say that I liked the fact that it was him, rather than Ogulf our main character who had that power. It makes for an interesting dynamic, in a relationship that was already interesting. The magic itself was well established, and it was enjoyable to see Melcun learning more about his abilities and developing them throughout the story, rather than dropping in with instant knowledge, again it’s a nice detail that adds depth to the world and story.
Ogulf and Melcun are our main characters, and I really enjoyed both of them as well as how their relationship was written, as touched on above, it was nice to see that not all the power lay with the main protagonist. Instead, we have a partnership, with both adding more than a little to the table. There is a wide-ranging cast of characters around them, and Ross does an excellent job of creating human characters with real emotion. There were a few places where it did feel as though we could have used a little more development, to give the characters a depth to match the plot and world, however, this is also the first book in the series and there were for the most part enough glimpses to show there is more to come.
Although I’m talking about it last the plot was very much the defining point of Cold from the North, which paired with a writing style that swept you up into the story makes for a fantastic narrative. There were a lot of threads to this story and lots of twists and turns and intrigue, and I enjoyed how they ranged in scale from the personal to nations and the world as a whole – building onto the depth provided by the worldbuilding. Ross brings all these elements together to create a well-crafted story that flows ever forward. The pacing did feel a little rough around the edges in places in that it lulled at times where it could have benefited from a little more action. Lulls are always necessary but given the setting and the situations that the characters and nations are currently in, I would have expected it to lean at least a little more towards the action. That said, the action, when it happened, was beautifully crafted, and those scenes pull you in until it feels as though you are in the centre of the chaos of fighting and emotions. The narrative itself was intriguing with the dark secrets and prophecy, and the tension those brought and that of the war, that even with those lulls it keeps moving forward and keeps you hooked on what is happening.
It’s hard to believe that Cold from the North is a debut novel because the writing and the plot are so beautifully done, within such a well-realised world. This is certainly a series that I intend to continue with (and if you have not seen the stunning cover for the next instalment due later this year, check it out below), because I need to know what happens! I would recommend this one for anyone who is a fan of Norse Fantasy, and plot-driven stories.
About the Author:
D.W. Ross is an author who took the boredom of lockdown 2020 to another level by deciding to write a book despite having no experience in doing anything of the sort before – to say he never thought he would get this far is an understatement. One book has become a series, and now there is no stopping his creative mind as he plots books daily that he will absolutely never get to writing. Cold From The North was his first novel, with follow up The Darkest Dusk due out in 2021 with the closing novel of the Onyxborn Chronicles coming in early 2022. When not writing, he can be found watching pro wrestling, reading fantasy, dystopian and thriller novels, gaming, lifting weights and eating chicken wings. D.W. lives in Scotland with his wife.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.