Thorben Paulson is an ordinary man who has put his past behind him to provide for his family and raise his children well. But when the tax collectors come and demand most of his family’s earnings and food, leaving his children to go hungry, he grows desperate enough to accept a job from his old friend. A job that requires him to once again ignore the Council’s order and delve into the underground crypts of the ancient dalan in search of priceless relics.
The Winter of Swords kicks off with a family enjoying a casual hunt in the woods near an ominous set of ruins. It bares all the hallmarks of calamity waiting to happen. Luca, the youngest of the party, pretends to sword fight with his brother Hunter, while two older men hunt for food. Eisa, Hunter’s and Luca’s sister, has a few moments where she gets startled, leaving the reader with portentous feelings. These feelings prove true when a six-limbed monster (I honestly imagined the mindflayer from Stranger Things season 3) snatches Luca and uses him all angler-fish style to capture the others. The two older hunters are brutally murdered off page (though we see their mangled bodies), Hunter is beaten (to death?) and Eisa is abducted for nefarious (but not sleazy) purposes.