Book Review: Dead Winter / Writer: C L Werner / Publisher: The Black Library / Release Date: Out Now
The Warhammer setting is a marked example of the differences between supposedly high and low fantasy. High fantasy imagines a world of wizards and elves and suggests a place in which the filth and brutality of the dark ages aren’t relevant. It’s distant and removed from the raw origins of history, and rarely makes for a better tale as it lacks a realistic punch to carry move it along. Luckily, Dead Winter is firmly in the class of low fantasy. Set in a world filled with strife, disease and corruption, it’s a tale of greed and plague, and a cracking read.
It’s also a novel that features that classic hero of the low fantasy tale; the rat catcher. Oh, and rodents of unusual size, namely the Skaven. (The Warhammer setting has some surreal touches, and the insane and creepy Skaven are just the tip of the iceberg, trust me.) It’s not just rat catchers and their prey, however; Werner weaves multiple perspectives into the narrative and combined with multiple locations, it lends an epic feel to the book.
Many of the characters are engaging and sympathetic, though not necessarily likeable. Personally, I like to root for the villains myself, and I found I had a lot to root for in this book. Werner really draws the reader in, and though this is a novel light on action, it is so thick with character and plot that the key action scenes carry a lot of weight. Those who like their fantasy covered in dirt and blood will love this, though be warned, it is the first in a series and it could run for a while. I certainly hope so.