Review + Interview: The Winter King by C.L. Wilson
The Winter King by C.L. Wilson
Published by Avon
Published on: July 29 2014
Genres: Fantasy Romance
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After three bitter years of battle, a victorious Wynter arrives at Summerlea’s royal palace to issue his terms of surrender. The prince of Summerlea stole Wynter’s bride and slew Wynter’s Heir. He wants the loss replaced. The Ice Heart is consuming him. Wynter hopes holding his own child in his arms will rekindle the warmth in his heart before he becomes the monster of Wintercraig legend, the Ice King.
The Summer King has three very precious daughters whom he loves dearly. Wynter will take one of them to wife. She will have one year to provide him with an Heir. If she fails, he will send her to face the mercy of the mountains and claim another princess for his wife. And so it will continue until Wynter has his Heir or the Summer King is out of daughters.
The plan is perfect—except for one small detail. The Summer King has a fourth daughter. One of which he is not so fond. And she is a fiercely passionate creature, with a temper as volatile as the forces of her weathergift, the power of storms.
C.L. Wilson writes Fantasy Romance like nobody’s business.
I discovered Wilson’s Tairen Soul series a little over a year ago through a Goodreads’ recommendation, and I read all five books in five days.
All five books. In five days.
And they weren’t filler books either. They were all 400(ish) page FANTASY books.
When I finished my reading binge, I was glad to see that another book was in the works—The Winter King (this book), and I’ve had it on my watchlist since January of last year.
And people . . . it did NOT disappoint.
Khamsin Coruscate is the unwanted daughter of King Verdan IV of Summerlea. Unacknowledged, she roams the abandoned places of her father’s castle, desperately trying to be good enough, noble enough, worthy enough to gain her father’s affections.
All of her efforts are for naught.
Wynter Atrialan is the young King of Wintercraig. Barely into manhood, he is already a legend among his people, having single-handedly killed a Frost Giant in a successful attempt to save his younger brother. But when he is betrayed, he embraces an ancient, dangerous magic to assist him in his quest for revenge.
But the magic has a cost, and the longer Wynter uses it, the higher the price.
Things I loved about this book:
1. The characters—ALL of the characters, main and secondary alike, were incredibly well-developed. I felt an instant connection to both Wynter and Khamsin, and the secondary characters were both likable and entertaining while enhancing my understanding of the MCs.
2. The world-building—Time wasn’t wasted describing actual landmasses, so while I may have only had a vague understanding of where Summerlea, Wintercraig, and Calbernan would be located on a map, I did gain knowledge of the other (more important IMO) aspects of the geography. I knew what creatures lurked where. I knew the weather patterns and the local customs. The imports and exports, etc. All those details combined to create a clear picture of Kham and Wyn’s world.
3. Villainous villains—I love to hate a good villain. Oh, I like a sympathetic villain on occasion as well, but sometimes a clear-cut bad guy is a wonderful target for your animosity, and The Winter King has several.
4. The ROMANCE—Wynter and Khamsin are instantly drawn to each other and have incredible chemistry, but oh, how they fight it. There are numerous misunderstandings and miscommunications (for the path to true love never did run smooth), but the journey never crosses the line from swoonfest to tedium. It’s very simply delicious torture.
5. Possibility of future books from this world—As far as I can tell, there are currently no other books from this world under contract. BUT Wilson lays the groundwork for several future books throughout this one, and my fingers are crossed that said books will come to pass (Dilys Merimydion + a Season = True Love 4-Ever).
Things I could have liked more:
1. Too many villainous villains—There were at least four significant bad guys (as well as several other characters you were made to be suspicious of), and as effective as they were, I can’t help but think that cumulatively a few less would have made even more of an impact. Even if there were still a few secondary bad guys all working for one Big Bad<——Big Bad is singular for a reason.
2. So very LONG—I kind of feel like this book could have had 100 less pages and still accomplished everything that needed to be accomplished. The end seemed to drag a bit (but only a bit). That being said, all of those pages flew by.
But ultimately, a couple of minor issues were not enough to keep me from absolutely loving this book.
Fantasy romance is not a big genre, so finding an author who excels at writing it is highly fortuitous. C.L. Wilson is one such author, and this book perfectly illustrates that claim. With a completely enthralling combination of fantastical elements and a swoonworthy romance, I recommend The Winter King to lovers of both Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. C.L. Wilson is always a safe bet, and The Winter King is perhaps my favorite of her books to date.
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The Winter King will be released on July 29th, and I’m very pleased to welcome its author, C.L. Wilson to Rabid Reads for my very first author interview.<——I am EXCITE.
1. THE WINTER KING takes place in a completely different world than your Tairen Soul series. What is/are the most important thing(s) for a reader to know about that world? (Or tell us a bit about that world, or BOTH. *wink*)
Well, the WINTER KING has a somewhat Norse feel, set in a land very like Norway or Sweden. The Ice Tongue dialect I use is actually a combination of Old Norse and Old Icelandic. I didn’t pull in Norse mythology too much, except for an occasional reference allusion (the Valkyr, instead of Valkyrie, Carnack instead of Ragnarock), but I wanted the feel of remote, rugged, close-knit peoples. Every race of people in Mystral has a core form of magic. Summerlanders have a gift for growing things. Havenfolk (although not much mentioned in the book) have a gift for persuasion. Winterfolk have clan-gifts which give entire familial tribes magical traits related to their clan’s totem animal. And the rulers of the various kingdoms all have some form a great magic. In the case of the ruling families of Wintercraig and Summerlea, those royal gifts are weather magic
Unlike the Tairen Soul series, which employs elemental magic, witchcraft, black magic, and shape changers, in Mystral, the magic is much more organic. It’s tied directly to the natural world (the ability to grow things, the ability to manipulate weather, the ability to assume characteristics of particular animals of the forest). Some of the magic comes directly from the gods of Mystral, but even then the magic generally isn’t about creating something from nothing, but rather influencing nature in some way..
One of the cool features of the royal magics is that all members of the immediate royal family are born with gift-marks – birthmarks on their wrists that proclaim them to be Heirs to the throne of their respective kingdoms. Those marks react when the royals use their weathergifts.
And, of course, because I love history and legends, I had to create an historical mythology that comes into play during the story. I had fun with that. I love the richness that our own mythologies give to our world. It’s part of what I love playing with when writing fantasy.
2. Khamsin grows up isolated in her own home, but she manages to have relationships with her siblings despite her father’s attempts to separate them. Khamsin feels especially close to her brother who we quickly learn is well on his way to turning out like their father. Is there hope Falcon?
I hope so. I do believe even people who do bad things can ultimately redeem themselves if they work hard enough and sincerely enough at it. In the SEA KING (the next Mystral novel, which I m writing now), one of Falcon’s sisters is fairly convinced that Falcon’s behavior was influenced by their father. We’ll have to wait and see 🙂
3. How many more books from this world would you like to write before it runs its course? What couples would you like to see together? Or if that gives too much away, who individually would you like to see get their HEA?
I haven’t thought it out to an end point. As I write more in this world, I learn more about it, and discovering intriguing people, places and races that I want to explore more fully. For now, I’m hoping to write at least about all three of Khamsin’s sisters, the Seasons. I’ve already got ideas brewing. Of course, I also have more Fading Lands novels to write too…starting with Bel’s book (in progress) and Gaelen’s book (plotted).
4. Which character was the most fun to write in THE WINTER KING, and why?
I enjoyed them all for different reasons – I loved Khamsin’s bravery and vulnerability, I loved Wynter’s absolutely yummy tenderness. But I guess for sheer “fun” – that has to be Dilys Merimydion, hero of THE SEA KING, who showed up out of the blue and won me over. He just makes me laugh. (although the dunk-dunk scene with Wynter and Krysti is one of my favorite scenes in the book.)
5. How ’bout that cover? How much say do you have in choosing your book covers, and what do you think about THE WINTER KING’s?
Judy York, the artist who also did the Fading Lands covers, did the WINTER KING. I think its absolutely gorgeous. My favorite of her covers for me is still QUEEN OF SONG AND SOULS, but this one runs a close second, I think. The colors are beautiful. And Judy is a delight. We became friends when she did the LORD OF THE FADING LANDS cover — she loves reading fantasy as much as I do, and she read the unpublished Tairen Soul manuscript (that became LORD OF THE FADING LANDS & LADY OF LIGHT AND SHADOWS). We see pretty much eye-to-eye about what we do and don’t like on romance novel covers. With her permission, I use her beautiful art as my website banner graphics. So, yeah, I love her work 🙂
6. Are you working on/have plans to work on any other books from other and/or new series?
Yep. I’m currently working on THE SEA KING, which features characters who appear in THE WINTER KING. Like THE WINTER KING, it’s a stand-alone novel. I’m also working on a 6th Fading Lands novel, this one about Belliard vel Jelani, the Spirit Master of Ellysetta v’En Daris’s quintet (personal guard). I’ll also be writing Gaelen vel Serranis book (Fading Lands #7), and I hope to do a short story and maybe a novellas set in the Fading Lands to keep my Tairen Soul fans happy while they wait.
7. Do you have a step-by-step outline you try to follow when you’re writing a book, or do the characters develop a life of their own?
Oh, argh, for me step by step outlines are Suicide By Plotting. I can’t keep to them and tie myself in Gordian knots trying to force myself to stick to them. I’m much happier if I can just get a good grip on the Hero/Heroine/Villains GMC, figure out what I think will be the four main turning points of the plot, then fly off into the mist. It’s not the most efficient way to write, but it’s the way that seems to work best for me. I also jump around a lot – writing scenes as they come to me — then fit them all together like puzzle pieces at the end.
8. At a glance, you appear to be a fellow Southerner. Do you feel that any aspects of the that subculture consistently find their way into your books?
I grew up all over the US – moving 9 different times before I turned 11, but I’ve lived in the south (Georgia & now FL) for most of my life. When I write contemporary, absolutely, the south sneaks in – it’s what I know. But in the fantasy, I don’t really think it does. One of my big loves is creating cultures and cultural mores — many of which are inspired by all manner of different cultures from around the world (including those from history).
9. Romantic Fantasy isn’t a very big sub-genre. Did you make a conscious decision to write it, or is that just what happened?
Well, its what I love. I did make the conscious decision to combine my two favorite genres – romance and fantasy, and for now that’s keeping me pretty busy. I do have some old contemporary manuscripts, and may one day write some of the paranormal romances milling about in my head, but for now, until I can figure out how to produce more books faster, fantasy romance/romantic fantasy is my home 🙂
10. Do you think it was more or less difficult trying to get a book published in such a small sub-genre?
Oh, I definitely made a rod for my own back when I had an epic fantasy romance series and editors were all buying vampires, weres, and kick-ass urban fantasy, but as with every book sale, it takes the right book in the hands of the right editor at the right time.
11. Dream Cast for THE WINTER KING:
Ha! This one I honestly have never even thought about.
Wynter – hmmm…that gorgeous hottie who plays Eric Northman on True Blood, maybe. Or maybe a young Daniel Craig.
Khamsin – a young Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, totally.
12. Care to volunteer any information?? Hmmm?
What else can I say? Wynter is yummy. I hope you agree 🙂
Bread or Chocolate? Oh, toughie. Chocolate. How about Pain au chocolat, best of both worlds?
Thor or Loki? THOR
UF or PNR? PNR
Sudoku or Crossword? Both.
Spiders or Clowns? Prefer spiders. Hate Clowns. MUCH creepier.
Favorite Disney princess? Little Mermaid. But for sheer spunk, Mulan.
Favorite supernatural creature? angel
Favorite carbonated beverage? beer
Celebrity crush? Richard Armitage.
Favorite Dr. Seuss book? One fish, two fish
Favorite 1980’s song? Oh Mickey, you’re so fine. You’re so fine you blow my mind, hey Mickey!
Make sure to check out Wilson’s Tairen Soul series too: