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Winterglass (Her Pitiless Command Book 1) Kindle Edition
|Length: 128 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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About the Author
- ASIN : B075FXFSXH
- Publisher : Apex Book Company (December 5, 2017)
- Publication date : December 5, 2017
- Language: : English
- File size : 2437 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 128 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #276,492 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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While there is a bit of action in here (there is, after all, a tournament to be had), it’s mostly elided in favor of a fascinating political plot and very excellent character interactions. It’s poetic, it’s entrancing, and although I often prefer more action-oriented fiction, I found this to be perfect as-is. The pacing is lovely. Tension underlies so many interactions, because once Nuawa catches the attention of Lussadh, and through her, the queen, any wrong move could get her killed.
Interested in queer material? The author has you covered. There’s plenty of representation here, whether the characters are bisexual, trans, non-binary, etc. It’s just a very natural and elegant part of the story. (Also, I think I can go ahead and tell you that you will NOT find the “bury your gays” trope in here, without giving anything away.)
Lussadh’s background is particularly fascinating. She was a prince of Kemiraj, and she collaborated with the queen to destroy the rest of her dynasty when the queen set her eyes on Kemiraj. Lussadh became both a general in the queen’s armies, and the queen’s lover. She’s also one of those who bear a fragment of the queen’s mirror inside of them. There are those who have not forgiven Lussadh for her betrayal, and one of them has plans to use Nuawa to attain eir goals.
The fantasy aspect of things is likewise engaging. Guns are a thing, but so are blades. There’s a bizarre aspect of the shadows of people and things sometimes being able to do or take damage, which is nicely slotted into the worldbuilding without any fanfare–it just is. There are curses that can be cast, and well, there’s the huge, obvious fact that the Winter Queen has locked multiple countries into eternal winter just through her presence alone.
This is such a lovely book, and I look forward to reading the sequel!
Content Note for sex and some quasi-animal harm (gladiator combat versus some very altered big cats).
The ending may not feel terribly satisfying to readers accustomed only to Western 3-Act Hero's Journey stories, but they'd be well advised to read a little broader, starting with more of this author. I know I'll be seeking out more books from her!
And the plotting was just excellent, too. It built a mystery through intrigue and built to the end quite masterfully.
The story had a lot to say, a lot of good stuff to say. It had excellent commentary on the politics of social control and the enforcement of state power. I particularly liked this line,
"Wild things are so magnificent until they are tamed. It robs them, taming, of their vital beauty. What's left behind is soft as loam beneath sleet, as forgettable. One domesticated thing much like another. Furniture. Appliances. Ghosts."
It struck a chord with me, speaking to the sense of wild I feel and the ugliness of a domesticated society. With all else in the story, I mentally filled in the continuation of that to apply it to humanity as well.
That said, my favorite scene is the one at the end with Nuawa and Indrahi in the chamber with Vahatma. It raised more questions than it answered, in a good way, and felt like the culmination of Nuawa's arc through the book. It was heartbreaking and wonderfully crafted.
I honestly can't wait to read Mirrorstrike, I'll probably start it immediately after this. All this left me wanting more, so I'm glad that there is more for me to have.
Top reviews from other countries
Sriduangkaew's writing is beautiful, lyrical and lush -- and just a little too much. I'm a sucker for pretty writing full of descriptions and imagery but Winterglass took it too far. The first few chapters especially, took me far longer than they should have to read because I kept getting bogged down in metaphors and having to reread for clarity. Sometimes a metaphor or description ran for so long, I almost forgot what it was describing.
The plot and worldbuilding are both wonderful and so creative. There's so much going on! Again, this becomes a problem because these things aren't really explained, or ideas are mentioned and never returned to. This made some part confusing and left me wondering about the abandoned plot lines. The contests themselves were so quickly glossed over that it didn't really feel like Nuawa was in any kind of peril during the bouts. The characters are exciting -- diverse as hell -- with personalities you don't often read about but which all feel well-developed. I loved Nuawa for her strength and her determination -- even faced with the most horrible of choices. I really rooted for her. I would have liked to see more of the side characters, more of the queen, and more of the relationship developing between Nuawa and Lussadh.
I think ultimately, Winterglass is just too short for what it's trying to do. This is a lush fantasy world with a complicated political plot. I wanted at least another 200 pages, if not more. The story sort of feels less like a completed novella and more like sections lifted from a longer novel. If the world-building had been given more explanation and the plot a little more time to breathe, I think this would have been a five-star read. I really, really wish for the author to rework this novella into a longer novel, or even to continue the story as a series. Winterglass would make a great prequel, and I'm excited to see what Sriduangkaew writes next.
Plot-wise, Winterglass is about the gladiator Nuawa’s plot to depose or destroy the godlike inhuman queen who conquered her city and the sacrifices she makes for the cause: both in the actions she cannot allow herself to take and the things she must do. Framed by this is her developing romance with Lussadh, the queen’s general and Nuawa’s foil in the choices both women make and have made, the one to resist her coloniser and the other to collaborate. Nuawa is a well-realised ruthless and determined woman, reminiscent of N K Jemisin’s Essun or Seth J Dickinson’s Baru Cormorant, and Lussadh too proves an interesting character as we learn about the devil’s bargain she struck to improve the condition of the downtrodden in her realm. It’s a nice touch that in her relationship with Nuawa she at least doesn’t seem to be hiding anything, while Nuawa, who wins the reader’s sympathy on the very first page, is planning to kill Lussadh’s beloved queen. Even the queen’s motives for conquest and subjugation aren’t exactly malevolent, though the effects are no less horrific. Snow erases all traces of the landscape it covers, and Sriduangkaew uses the obvious metaphor to great effect. And, of course, there are the regular mass executions; the queen is sufficiently human to replicate our models of subjugation.
Beyond plot and characters, we have a wonderfully vivid setting with an excellent sense of place. The various kinds of magic present strike a nice balance between wondrous and commonplace, and the cultures (all non-white) we see are decidedly queer-friendly – Nuawa and Lussadh are into girls, Lussadh is openly trans, and various other characters are non-binary. Lussadh even provides us with polyamorous representation. Sriduangkaew’s prose is as good as ever, and every sentence feels right.
There is, however, a flaw, and that is that this story feels very much like set-up. Nuawa’s immediate arc is completed and she is closer to her goal, but she still hasn’t reached it. Similarly, we learn of the queen’s desire to gather all those whose hearts carry a shard of her shattered mirror, but we don’t know what that ultimately means or what she intends to do once she’s found them all. I don’t know if Sriduangkaew intends to write a sequel, but Winterglass is crying out for one. This incompleteness to the story means I’d like to deduct half a star, but you can’t do that on Amazon. Still, that’s all I really have to criticise about it, so five-ish stars it is.
A technical note: there are few typos in the Kindle edition but they don’t get in the way of the story.