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| Source: ARC courtesy of HarperCollins
| Author: C.L. Wilson
| Genre: Romantic Epic Fantasy
| Content: High Fantasy, Weather Magic
| ISBN-10: 0062018973
| ISBN-13: 9780062018977
| Publisher: Avon (July 29, 2014)
| Mass Market Paperback: 608 pages
| Cover Artist: Judy York
| Rating: 4/5 Stars
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Romance, war, hardship, heartache and magic. All of the elements of a special epic fantasy. An Epic Fantasy Romance mix. And despite the fact that I normally stay away from romance novels, I really liked this one.
Romantic Epic Fantasy Book Review by Mulluane
♦ The Story ♦
There is an uneasy peace between the realms of Summerlea and Wintercraig. Both royal houses are blessed with weather gifts inherent to their individual realms. Gifts that they can bestow, or withhold, from or on the other country. But that was before betrayal, murder and forbidden magic come into play -- and a devastating war ensues.
Questions are explored, moral dilemmas are assessed. Can the horrible price of revenge be offset by a selfless sacrifice made in the name of peace?
♦ My Thoughts ♦
Romance books have changed since I last read them with any regularity. Some 30 years ago. There is a bit more detail as people have become less shocked by just about everything. The female leads have become stronger and more apt to take control of their situations. Other things will never change. Atleast not in a medieval setting. Women are still going to be political pawns and marrying for love is something reserved for the lower classes. This story is no different in that regard except for one thing. The forced marriage has an interesting twist.
But this story is so much more than a romance. There is intricate world building but only as much as the story really needs. You'll discover a unique, though vaguely familiar, fairy tale spin on the standoff between Summer and Winter. Politics, betrayal, war and magic all play center roles. There is conflict, drama and action on an epic scale.
The seamless marriage of the two genres came as a pleasant surprise.
This is also a character-driven fantasy where the secondary characters play strong roles. This is what saved the book for me. There was so much going on; so many characters playing vital roles and all sporting their own agendas. This all meant that I didn't get overwhelmed by the romance. There was a lot of epic goodness here for me to enjoy.
♦ What I Liked ♦
Right from the prologue C. L. Wilson creates a male and female lead that you feel empathy for. She then goes on to lay out the whole tragic scenario and does so beautifully. Everything you need to know about the situation on both sides, the reason for the war, the consequences of that war, the types of magic and how it all works, are all explained. And in only 200 pages. And to make matters even more impressive, with little to no info dumping. All of this is experienced in a smooth paced intimate context. Before I ever started Chapter One I was hooked.
For the most part the pace was smooth and active throughout. There were a few slow downs. But not many and not for long. The action and conflict, both inside and outside of the marriage, kept me wanting more. The romance itself was really well written. There was plenty of detail but it wasn't crass. The words used were carefully chosen. More focus was put on passion as opposed to physical acts. Way more rated "R" scenes than "X".
♦ What I didn't like ♦
As with most any romance there are times when the female lead's stubbornness and refusal to see what is right in front of her leaves me scratching my head. This is a beautiful woman who is smart, educated, strong willed, powerful and yet feels like she has to prove all this. Why? Eventually she grows into her own skin, but the journey had some -- WTF were you thinking -- moments. On the one hand, this journey of self adds to the drama and suspense. On the other you just want to kick her.
There were a couple of plot holes that also created some confusion for me. I actually think that in certain cases, both lead characters made some tough choices way too easily. And I'm not talking about the ones directly relating to the romance portion of the new marriage either. I expected most of those. Maybe I've gotten too used to long angst scenes but there were a few switches in loyalty that I found unsettling and illogical. In those cases I think there was a bit too much fairy tale and not enough reality.
♦ Conclusion ♦
I believe that romance lovers are going to be pleased with the romantic portions of this tale. However, the thing that caught me completely off guard was the strength of the story; the big picture so to speak. I expected your normal cookie cutter romance with a distant backstory and I got the opposite. What I took away from this tale a strong epic fantasy with a romance backstory.
But that is what makes this tale so priceless. I'm not fond of romance, but I was able to relegate it to the background and thoroughly enjoy the epic portion of the tale. Romance lovers will be able to do the same, but in reverse. People who love both genres are going to be the truly fortunate ones. They will get the best of both worlds.
I didn't go into this tale with high hopes, but I'm sure glad I gave it a shot. Did it make me a romance fan? Ummm... no. Would I read more of C.L. Wilson's Epic Fantasy Romances? Short answer... yes. This is one case where a marriage (of genres) was almost perfect.
(13 customer Reviews)
What Should I Read Next?
|Kindle: The Winter King|
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C.L. Wilson is USA Today, NY Times, and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author of a cross-genre series that combines epic fantasy with romance. Her debut novel was released in two back-to-back volumes in October and November 2007 as lead titles of Dorchester Publishing’s Leisure Books imprint. Her first novel, Lord of the Fading Lands, hit the USA Today list of the top 150 bestselling books in America on its first two weeks in print, and the sequel, Lady of Light and Shadows, ranked on both the USA Today and the New York Times mass market fiction extended list. Her books have continued to appear on national bestseller lists ever since.
You can connect with C. L. Wilson on her: Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Blog
Book Review of The Winter King by C.L. Wilson | Romantic Epic Fantasy - Reviewed by Mulluane - on July 28 2014 - Rating: of 5 Stars