I was unsure if I would enjoy the first book of The Redwinter Chronicles and had not read anything before by Ed McDonald and I was left … underwhelmed. Daughter of Redwinter is the first installment of a new epic fantasy series set in a world where seeing the dead is a thing but is certainly not a good thing. Continue reading to see my thoughts on this new series.
From the author of the critically-acclaimed Blackwing trilogy comes Ed McDonald’s Daughter of Redwinter, the first of a brilliant fantasy series about how one choice can change a universe.
Raine can see–and more importantly, speak–to the dead. It’s a wretched gift with a death sentence that has her doing many dubious things to save her skin. Seeking refuge with a deluded cult is her latest bad, survival-related decision. But her rare act of kindness–rescuing an injured woman in the snow–is even worse.
Because the woman has escaped from Redwinter, the fortress-monastery of the Draoihn, warrior magicians who answer to no king and who will stop at nothing to retrieve what she’s stolen. A battle, a betrayal, and a horrific revelation forces Raine to enter Redwinter. It becomes clear that her ability might save an entire nation.
Pity she might have to die for that to happen…
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Issues of Characters/Themes
Some of the characters were pretty interesting and intriguing, doing a good job of creating interest for further character development in subsequent books in the series. In certain ways, however, some characterizations and events were not necessary, such as grooming and abusive relationships. These did not add to the story nor create any character growth, only later realizations and comparisons to other relationships.
There was also a character that would not accept rejection by numerous characters but continued with stalking behaviors. There was some queer representation, but it was either a passing comment or considered something to hide rather than an accepted aspect of someone’s identity. Unfortunately, these were not addressed in ways that cast these as negative behaviors. While these problematic themes all could create avenues for conflict in the series, it seems mostly unnecessary.
Pace & World Building
The pace of Daughter of Redwinter was up and down, which I do not always like in a book. I could see this causing someone to not enjoy the book or get through it. But overall, the overarching story and conflict were fairly interesting. There was a clear effort, being the first book of a trilogy, to build the world, which may in part contribute to the meandering pace at times. I still think more work needs to be done to flesh out the world.
There could have also been more discussion of how the magic system actually worked. There are Draoihn whose magic works through opening Gates and their degree of power is proportionate to the number of Gates they can open. That is about all I got. The ability of our main character to see the dead is also not greatly explored. I understand she’s lived with it her whole life, but there isn’t a huge understanding of how it works and she does not seem to be very curious about it either. Her ability was mostly just a reason for her to be distant from people for fear they may turn her in.
Daughter of Redwinter had some potential that it did not really live up to. If you generally like fantasies and want to read a new series this could be for you; it’s just not for me. I think my main concerns stemmed from the fact that it is the POV of a 17-year-old girl where a 17-year-old girl is certainly not the one writing it. It leads to an unfortunate set of stereotyped behaviors and goals. Although, I would consider reading the sequel to see if some of my critiques are too hasty.