Wow, this turned out to be such a gem, I didn’t expect to enjoy half as much as I did. I dropped another book before I picked this up because it was so slow that it felt like it was going nowhere, very slowly. I guess it helped that I had little to no expectations from The Winter King, but that’s not to say that it’s not a really fun read, far from it in fact.
The Winter King is a fairly predictable fantasy romance but it was done exceedingly well with amazing world-building and characters. The writing was straightforward which I appreciated, it was also in keeping with the two main characters since one was a warrior and the other was a wild-spirit at heart. It was also thoroughly engrossing and I found myself reading it well into the night. The best part about it was that it was just a really fun read coupled with a strong plot. My only complaint is that the end felt a little rushed especially the main fight at the climax. That would be my only grouse, well that and the fact that most of the men (even the good ones) seemed way too dense.
I especially liked the characters and the fact that even the protagonists were far from perfect. Khamsim (Kham), the youngest princess of Summerlea, was headstrong, stubborn with a fierce temper but those qualities were tempered by intelligence and resilience. She was not easily intimidated. She was also loyal, once she decided where her loyalties lay, she was unmoved by threats and bribes. Having had a very difficult childhood, it would have been easy for her to be bitter, but she was far from that, even when faced with a choice most would have been horrified by, she went through it determined to look at the positive side.
Wynter (Wyn) was much the same. Having lost his parents to monsters and then his younger brother to one man’s blind ambition, as king of Wintercraig, the crown sat heavy on his head. He was just as stubborn and headstrong as Kham. He too had a wild temper but he was never cruel and he treated his men just as he would treat a courtier. He was also kind and thoughtful.
I actually liked the relationship between Kham and Wyn, it was as if they were two halves of a whole. Even when they barely knew each other, Wyn was considerate of Kham’s needs. He stood up for her and protected her. They got to know each other slowly and it was nice to see their relationship grow. Although, when it came to emotional involvement, Wyn was a whole lot more frustrating than Kham. His decision to keep his distance had me wanting to box his ears. For quite some time, he was blind to Kham’s loneliness and isolation. He failed to see that his courtiers took their cue from him and ignored her. As much as I liked Wyn, there were times when he drove me up the wall with his bad attitude. Add to that, neither of them spoke plainly with each other which certainly didn’t help matters. Having said that, there were little things that made the difference in their relationship. The small kindnesses and consideration they showed each other was what brought them closer.
Of the other characters, I loved Lady Galacia, the High Priestess of Wyrn, the primary deity for the people of Wintercraig. She was straightforward and one of the very few people to tell Wyn when he was being an ass. She wasn’t scared or intimidated by him. She was also one of the very few people who made an attempt at getting to know Kham and being civil to her. Then there was Tildy, the nursemaid who had brought up Kham since she was a child. Tildy was scared of no one and she loved Kham like her own daughter. The Seasons, Kham’s sisters were fine I suppose, I wish they had been more vocal of their love and support of Kham when she was still with them. They loved her but kept silent thus complicit in Kham’s abuse and isolation at the hands of their father, King Verdan. I also adored Krysti.
Now, onto the people I hated. First off, Valik. Never have I hated a character more than Valik especially considering that he was supposed to be one of the good guys. But his blind prejudice towards Kham and his refusal to even give her a chance grated on my nerves. He was responsible for Wyn keeping his distance because he kept telling him how untrustworthy Kham was and that she had probably put a spell on him. Ugh!!! I don’t words to describe just how much I hated him. Reika was another detestable character, she was like a snake and should have been gotten rid early on.
King Verdan the king of Summerlea and Kham’s father, he was also her tormentor and abused her unchecked. He was truly vile and I still can’t understand why Kham’s sisters didn’t do more to protect their sister from their father’s vicious temper. Then there was that one character who, for the longest time seemed like the epitome of an honourable man, but turned to be nothing more than a power-hungry maniac.
The Winter King was a fun read with an interesting world and well-written and layered characters. I loved every minute of it and now, I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series, though that probably won’t be out till sometime this year (2017) I didn’t just like The Winter King, it sucked me in right away and I could not stand to put it aside for even a little while. I loved it and can’t recommend it enough.