Well, 3 stars is still a good rating and I did enjoy the book, but I expected this book to be at least a 4 or even reaching 5 stars for many reasons. Norse mythology is one of my favorite mythologies in the world, it’s up there at the top of my favorite list with Greek and Japanese mythologies. After hearing about this trilogy and reading Greylock’s incredible short story in the anthology Lost Lore, I was super excited to finally have a chance to start this one. Plus, hearing from some readers that the book reminds them a bit of Gwynne’s The Faithful and the Fallen series—which is currently my favorite completed series of all time—just raised my expectations even more. Unfortunately, there is one thing that stopped me from enjoying the book even more: fast pacing in exchange for characterizations.
If you look at my list of favorite first book of a series or debuts, there’s one very prominent similarity within each of them, slow pacing for great characterizations. Yes, for the first book of any series, it’s mandatory for me that the book be slow and focus more on the characterizations than anything else. The Blood-Tainted Winter is an extremely fast paced book, it’s probably the most fast-paced first book I’ve ever read, because of this characterizations really suffer and their actions seem illogical and unrealistic. For example, there aren’t any travel sections in this book. A character will say “let’s go there” and they will arrive in one or two short chapters. I know traveling sections in epic fantasy books can be boring but this is still way too fast for me. Also, Raef as the main character was highly unlikeable in my opinion.
Problem with pacing and characterizations aside, this book did integrate Norse mythology heavily in the second half of the book and I think the rest of the trilogy will implement it even more. The integration of the Norse mythology is hands down the best aspect of this book and seeing the way things progressed, I have a feeling the storyline will eventually lead towards Ragnarok.
This is a fast-paced book and there are plenty of actions to be found and if tons of actions from the first book of a series is your kind of reading preferences, you really should give this book a try. Greylock’s actions are vivid and great. She didn’t spend time writing words that didn’t provide any benefit for the story, this is especially true in the action sequences and worldbuilding.
Unfortunately, I don’t know if I’ll be continuing with the trilogy. Like I said before, I’m a fan of a slow-paced first book of a series. I don’t mind fast-paced books in any sequels but in the first book, it’s a must for me for it to set up the characters and story for the rest of the series. Great characters are single-handedly the most important factors that affect my enjoyment of any book, doesn’t matter what the genre is. By the end of this book, I still don’t have any characters that I cared about and that kills my interest in continuing.
Overall though I think this book was good and I’m definitely more in between on whether I like or dislike the book. I still enjoy this book and this is a good start to a trilogy. But sadly, this is more or less the same case with The Chronicles of the Black Gate by Phil Tucker, a good book/series where I lost the motivation to continue because the characters weren't compelling enough for me. Remember that this is just my opinion and as always, reading experience will tend to vary among readers. Despite me not continuing the trilogy, I still highly recommend this trilogy to anyone who’s looking to try a fast-paced Norse inspired fantasy filled with plenty of actions.