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Winter Glory Paperback – November 9, 2015
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
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If you like your stories with magic of the powerful and gentle sort, you will like this story. Needless to say, the settings are gorgeous, sketched with quick perfect strokes. The culture she writes is realized in great detail in few words. I felt as if I had dropped in. The legends and the challenges will surprise you, and the cover is perfect: I had wanted to read this story since I first saw the cover. I was not disappointed.
It's interesting, beautifully written, and worth re-reading.
Can't do it, could ya?
And that's a bit of the problem I have in describing Winter Glory. On the surface, it's another nordic-flavored tale of trolls and magic and dragons.
(A momentary explanation: I was born on a dirt road in Macon, Georgia, and have lived most of my life in the South. Give me a story with snow on the cover, and I think it's nordic. For those with a broader experience, my apologies.)
As a tale of (unconventional) trolls and magic and so forth, it does a good job. It's not that part that hooks me in the heart, however.
I'm forever reading stories about brave heroic figures, doing adventurous things, and falling head over heels in love. (Why head over heels, anyway? Unless you are upside down, your head is ALWAYS over your heels. For impact, shouldn't the statement be 'heels over head?') And the heroes are always, well, YOUNG. If they aren't naturally young, they are taking some sort of treatment (like Honor Harrington) that makes them appear to be young. Even in those cases, there aren't any old people when the treatment wears off. Prince Roger's mama is bug-house nuts crazy, but she's still quite a beauty.
Okay, here's MY testimony: love is what works, not youth. In fact, it's my belief that youth actually screws up love, because in youth the energy is there to attempt multiple relationships. Old folks, like me, truly ARE able to do more than sit by the fire and nod off, dreaming of the ancient past. Not that we are against having a fire! No, we LIKE the fire. It warms our old bones, and permits cuddling without having to bury ourselves under ten feet of stinky animal skins.
And Winter Glory gets that. In fact, Winter Glory could very well serve as the description of old people in love, just as 'Afternoon Delight' describes a romantic interlude in the middle of the day.
But, in the midst of this excellent adventure story comes an insight so brilliant that I had to set the book aside for a moment, to take in the truth spelled out in such a few sentences. Ney-Grimm succinctly describes the risk that the heroine of this tale faced when young:
"Ivvar had laughed and pulled his jacket from his rucksack, wrapping it around her while she gaped in surprise. She’d felt so cared for, so safe. And hated it, because under that safety, she felt vulnerable. If he could make her safe, then he could make her unsafe, too. **I wanted my own strength, not his.** Borrowing strength felt risky.
And so she picked a quarrel on the way home."
Ney-Grimm, J.M. (2015-11-12). Winter Glory (p. 82). Wild Unicorn Books. Kindle Edition.
The society described in Winter Glory is very different than our society; men and women live apart, in communal houses. That's going to have an impact on bonding pairs which is largely absent from contemporary Western relationships. HOWEVER! If you take a look at what happens when two old people get together, this is one of the key issues which MUST be resolved, for both of them.
I could go further, but I won't. Either what I've described speaks to you so strongly that you immediately go get the book, or not. If not, go get the book because it's a great adventure story. And if you don't do that, then wait a few years, until you find yourself sitting by the fire, nodding off and dreaming of the ancient past.