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A Wind from the Wilderness (Watchers of Outremer Book 1) Kindle Edition
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"I was utterly enthralled and could hardly put it down. An amazing blend of history and fantasy with characters I found fascinating and couldn't get enough of!" ~ Julia, The Fantasy Hive
"This isn't just great low fantasy; it's brilliant historical fiction." ~ Filip, The Fantasy Hive
"A page-turning story, epic in scope." ~ Adam, Fantasy Book Critic
"By turns tragic and triumphant, poignant and joyful, this is ultimately a redemptive read." ~ Lukasz, Fantasy Book Critic
"Rowntree does an outstanding job bringing the ordeals of the first Crusade to full, vibrant life." ~ Fantasy-Faction
"It felt like I was witnessing the scenes in person, standing bewildered as battles took place around me." ~ Lynn's Books
"A deeply layered story that has a lot more to offer than the usual fantasy fare." ~ Nick, Queen's Book Asylum
"What is more gripping than the Crusades? Tragedy, drama, greed, devotion... it's all there. And reader, it's all here, in this book, as well. ...An absolute delight to read in every respect. " ~ Sarah Chorn, Bookworm Blues
"Vivid and lush." ~ Patrick Samphire, author of Shadows of a Dead God
"A fantastic novel and a beautiful way to learn more about the time period." ~ Olivia Atwater, author of Half a Soul
"When a book can punch me in the heart that hard while still inspiring hope and goodness, it deserves all the stars." ~ Eli Hinze, author of Queen of Shades
"A colourful story of love, war, and loyalty" ~ Camillea Reads
"A breathtaking, thrilling, rollercoaster of a ride through period of the First Crusade." ~ Goodreads reviewer
"I need like...a week to recover from this." ~ Goodreads reviewer
About the Author
She loves the mythic fantasy of S A Chakraborty, Naomi Novik and Laini Taylor...and if you do too, you might just like the Watchers of Outremer series.
- ASIN : B07HRL1RKM
- Publication date : October 29, 2018
- Language : English
- File size : 1357 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 422 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #320,295 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Anyway, as soon as I cracked the book and realized this is a historical fantasy, I was hooked. This was the book for me. I love history. Love. It. And any good retelling of some gripping historical period is something that will assuredly put my butt in my chair. What is more gripping than the Crusades? Tragedy, drama, greed, devotion… it’s all there. And reader, it’s all here, in this book, as well.
“We could have reconciled them through love, but we persecuted them through fear. Is it any wonder that they turned to destroy us?”
I write my own style of historical fantasy. Though I set my books in secondary worlds, they are all based on real world history you can research and learn about, and I don’t hide any of that at all. I will say, as one author who writes historically influenced novels, about another, the research process that goes into writing historical fantasy is not something that should be minimized. There’s a lot you have to get right, and a lot that takes a ton of really rigorous hours to learn, not to mention the time spent talking to experts, as well as the google searches, the books read, and the like.
I know first-hand what it’s like, how hard, and how high the payoff is when it is done right. And that payoff, you ask? Well, it’s all in the details. Small things that might not matter to anyone else, but they all work together to make this world the author has created come to vibrant life for the reader. It’s not just knowing the culture and beliefs of the day and age, the rough outline of the important information, if you will. You’ve also got to know what people typically ate, the norms regarding treatment of women, clothing styles, weaving styles, how people spent the day, the push and pull of aspects of life that were in flux, all the way down to the houses people lived in and so much more (so. much. more.). All of this brings the story to life so you, the reader, can feel fully immersed in it.
(Example: I spent two hours researching how houses were typically built in the countryside of Ukraine in the 1920’s and 1930’s for two sentences you’ll eventually read in An Elegy for Hope. People, the amount of random research that goes into writing a book is just surreal. You probably won’t notice them, but I sure will.)
“Power is a two-edged blade, Raymond. Even if one man could command this whole immense army, I’m not convinced that he should.”
Anyway, the entire point of my minor tirade there is to tell you that the research Rowntree did to write this book is not only in depth, but also richly layered into her world and the story she’s written here. Nothing was overlooked. I almost felt like I could smell the air in the cities, and see the food, feel the walls all around me. It was marvelous, and woven into the book so effortlessly, you’d not really notice how much work went into creating something that realistic and dimensional unless you really stop to think about just how the author managed it. Folks, it’s research. It’s tons and tons of research, and an uncanny ability to know when to add details and facts, and when to let readers fill in the blanks. It was incredibly well done all around.
The story in A Wind from the Wilderness is a lot of things: romance, redemption, self-exploration, and growth all set against the turbulent era of the Crusades, when war was prevalent, and men went to war in an effort to save their souls. People suffered, and people loved, and people endured tragedy and triumph. This is a rife, ready period of history to set a book. There’s so much fodder here from which authors can draw from, and I was delighted to see how well Rowntree dealt with this time period, staying true to its immediate and wider conflicts and issues, while bringing to life the very personal, very complex stories that are impacted by all that is going on around them. From two youth who should be enemies, overcoming that which should stand between them, to a knight who is on a quest to reach Jerusalem in an effort to atone for his sins, these stories not just give a human aspect to this larger than life period, but they humanize it as well.
What I really enjoyed about this book was how well Rowntree played these huge, important events against the intimate stories of individuals. It was fascinating to me, how events helped shape people, but also how she showed people influencing events rather than getting lost in them. One stone thrown into a pond might seem small and inconsequential, but the ripples that roll out from it create lasting change. Ultimately, I felt like that was what was happening here. Her characters were stones thrown into this sea of events, causing huge ripples, and yet she never lost sight of them and who they were. She never dropped any of those balls she was juggling.
“The children of earth have grown wise of late, and have driven us out of their temples. But if they can no longer be deceived, they can be corrupted. They will butcher each other for God’s sake, and I will drink and be satisfied.”
There are fantasy elements in this book, in the form of magic and time travel, but I will say I felt like the book more flirted with fantasy rather than leaning into it. This actually ended up being a positive to me. I like books that straddle the line between genres and refused to be pinned down or boxed up. Is this fantasy? Is it historical fiction? Is it both? You decide. Dare to stray from the path, you diamond. There are fantasy elements there, but I felt they were more of a perfume rather than an overwhelming plot device. That isn’t to say you’ll be disappointed if you read this book wanting magic and the like, it does exist, but if you’re a reader who wants a gentler touch with fantastic elements, this might be worth checking out.
The pacing is very measured. Never a dull moment, never a wasted page. The prologue will likely be the one where readers struggle most. You’re thrust into the center of a conflict and conversation without anything to go on. You’ll eventually make sense of it all, but you’ll likely feel a bit lost throughout reading it. The first chapter is easy to sink into. There’s a clear introductory point, and the story flows from there. Likewise, the ending had a very “first book in a series” feel to it. There’s a resolution offered, but just enough of one to keep you going through the next book. I didn’t mind that at all, because I fully intend on reading the first book. However, I figure it should be noted.
I want to talk a bit about Rowntree’s prose. She knew when to lean into the description, and when to back off. Straightforward, with spurts of beauty, The Wind from the Wilderness was incredibly well balanced, not just in plot, characterization, research, and worldbuilding, but also in the prose. Occasionally toeing the line into purple (which didn’t bother me at all because, hello, have you read my books?), she never quite crossed it, though. This balance also served her very well in making the quiet, intimate moments and the larger, louder ones far more atmospheric and meaningful all around. There were a lot of times in the reading of this book where I forgot I was just a passive observer, rather than living the story as it unfolded.
“His mouth twisted into a bitter smile. ‘Family is everything. Right?’
His words brought stinging tears to her eyes. ‘It’s not everything,’ she whispered. ‘It’s not you.’”
All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this book. A delightful mix of engaging and atmospheric, topped off with vivid prose and characters that were a complex mix of layers and flaws, A Wind from the Wilderness was an absolute delight to read in every respect.
First off, the historical accuracy is astounding. I learned so much from this book just by osmosis alone. As someone who has written historical fantasy, let me tell you, that is not an easy feat. With western authors, you wonder if there will be biases in the portrayal of the Crusades, but I personally found none. The characters from both sides were sympathetic, and each side had its villains too.
The prose is very well honed, and even made things like the different time system they used (Vespers? Terce? Compline?) blend in without throwing me off.
I wondered how this book would resolve its many plot threads in time, because this is truly a sweeping historical epic and, even with 400+ pages I wondered how it’d cover everything. But it did, while still leaving room for it to pick up in future books. (A Conspiracy of Prophets, oh how I need you.)
The emotions in this book ran high. From Ayla’s internal struggles to Lukas’ hotheaded righteousness to Saint-Gilles’ quest for redemption to my complete and utter hatred for Evrard de Puiset, and so much more. Ugh.
I’m still reeling over how things ended, but when a book can punch me in the heart that hard while still inspiring hope and goodness, it deserves all the stars.
Do yourself (and your shelfies) a favor and pick up this book today.
This story of romance, time-travel, and crusading warfare is told from three perspectives. The POV I liked best is that of a middle-aged Frankish knight determined to atone for his sins by reaching Jerusalem. His character felt nuanced, engaging, and fresh. I am totally down for more books about him. Even though the other leads--a Christian boy and a Muslim girl who are officially enemies but find themselves highly attracted to each other--ought theoretically to be more sympathetic, I didn’t find their arc quite as enjoyable. There is something a bit distant and mechanical to their romance, as if the author’s heart wasn’t entirely invested in it. However, by the end of the book, their relationship is more personalized and works better. They also begin the story thinking and behaving like children. By the end, they have matured and are handled by the author more like adults. Perhaps this is another reason why the romance is stronger in the end than the beginning.
It’s difficult to fully evaluate the story because it is the first in a series and reaches only a limited amount of plot pay-off. However, it’s another solid contribution from an author whose work I continue to enjoy; and it’s a lovely example of well-researched, sensitive historical fiction. It also happens to have a winged demon/jinn/fury thingy chasing people at key moments, which is cool.
Content Note: Since the births of my children, I have found it difficult to read stories that use harm to babies or young children as plot points; and this book includes a scene that bothered me. It’s not overly graphic but it’s there. Just FYI for those with a similar sensitivity.
Top reviews from other countries
All in all this is a good novel, but in my mind short of a great one. 7/10
A Wind from the Wilderness added in magic and time travel and I loved every word.
Lukas, ripped out of time, and Ayla, a young woman on a mission, were fabulous characters, and the world Suzannah Rowntree created was immersive and utterly convincing.
Despite the situation and premise of the story, A Wind from the Wilderness was far more realistic than most of the fiction I usually read – messy and tangled on both a character and world level. I ached for everything to be resolved happily for Lukas and Ayla.
Loved it. I will definitely look out for more from Suzannah Rowntree.