The Ninth Rain (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy 1) by Jen Williams
|The Ninth Rain (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy 1) by Jen Williams
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson
|Summary: A dark, vastly enjoyable epic fantasy featuring three misfits with intriguing pasts and perilous presents. Yes, Jen Williams is back with a new series and we're way over-excited!
|Date: February 2017
|External links: Author's website
Ebora is dying along with its tree-like god Ysegril but Hestillion is doing all she can to keep him alive. In fact she'll go to any lengths to save him… any lengths at all. Hest's brother Tormalin can't sit around and wait for the end so he's engaged by Lady Vincenza (Vintage) de Grazon to be her factotum and hired sword during her quest for knowledge. It's turning into more of an adventure than they'd planned even before Fell witch and fugitive Noon joins them. Now the trio must work together, putting prejudices and passions aside (others' as well as their own). The Ninth Rain is coming and more than Ebora is in danger.
Like many I was saddened when Jen's Copper Cat trilogy finished. Not because it ended sadly (it didn't) but because I didn't think the likes of Sir Sebastian, Copper Cat (aka Wydrin of Crosshaven) and Lord Aaron Frith would pass our way again. What I hadn't reckoned on is that this is an author with more than one great fantasy series in her and, judging by this, the first book, Great Fantasy Series #2 is here.
Therefore we welcome grand arsonist Fell Noon, unscrupulous (although perhaps a little less so than he likes to think) Tormalin the Oathless and the wonderfully resourcefully batty Lady Vintage. Jen has an amazing talent for collating and animating venturing trios and this one is no exception.
Each is a societal misfit to some degree who's forced by circumstance to fit in with the other two. Vintage has the sort of disdain for danger that would make Dr Who proud; the sort of lady who, if Victorian, would go forth to foreign climes armed only with an umbrella. (She has a little more than an umbrella here though!) Vintage thirsts for further knowledge of the Jure'lia: a flesh eating, body hollowing army that isn't entirely suited to insectophobes. (If you found Jim Butcher's Vord too scary, you may need to read parts of this book through your fingers or from behind the sofa.) She also complements the steam punk flavour wafting into the novel's background from time to time.
Tor, being an Eboran, has certain needs that are normally accommodated by understanding ladies here and there. (Only partially what you're thinking!) However his needs create problems on the way, feeding the embittered anti-Eboran feelings his people's history has created. (Jen also gets extra kudos for naming one of her characters – in short form at least - after her publisher.)
For Noon anywhere and anything is better than the prison she's escaped. Incarcerated for her powers and abilities, she's also seen the future and it's not great. She sees Jure'lians. The last Jure'lian invasion was a very bloody affair known as the Eighth Rain. At the moment the Ninth Rain is just the name of Tor's sword… at the moment.
Jen gives us tense, scary and bloody in spades and we love it. (Despite having a free ARC, I actually bought this book for my e-reader before even finishing it. I'd normally wait till a book's old enough to be on offer to do that!) I realised how good this book was when I found myself shouting directions to our heroes in the 'You don't want to be doing that! Nooo!' style of hands-on readership, provoked by some great baddies.
Yes, there are wonderful baddies who currently seem more than a match for our heroes but Jen isn't without compassion whatever side of morality a character finds itself, allowing us to see all sides. The motives behind a particular nemesis' actions are particularly sad causing us to realise that, in that position, we'd be no different. It also leaves us with the desperate urge to let our heroes in on the backstory. (Cue more talking to an inanimate object!)
Indeed, each person's back story is as rich as the world that gave birth to them. Climax builds on climax and twist surpasses gasp-worthy twist till that final frightening revelation… and this is only Book 1!
This definitely isn't a fantasy novel for the kids but for adults who like their fantasy chilling, epic and a darker shade of fun. Welcome back, Jen, welcome back!
(Thank you so much to the good folks at Headline/Tor for providing us with a copy for review.)
You can read more book reviews or buy The Ninth Rain (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy 1) by Jen Williams at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Ninth Rain (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy 1) by Jen Williams at Amazon.com.
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