Review: Winterbirth by Brian Ruckley

Rating:

Winterbirth by Brian Ruckley
2007, Orbit

Review Summary: Brian Ruckley’s Winterbirth¬†is solid, and occasionally excellent writing. Unfortunately, the novel fails to really illustrate anything particularly fascinating, endearing, or even particularly human about any of the characters and they come off as rather staid, static archetypes, rather than as real people that one would be compelled to continue following.

Full Review:

Brian Ruckley’s Winterbirth¬†is solid, and occasionally excellent writing. Unfortunately, the novel fails to really illustrate anything particularly fascinating, endearing, or even particularly human about any of the characters and they come off as rather staid, static archetypes, rather than as real people that one would be compelled to continue following.

The overall storyline is also trite, as the flight from the ancestral homes by the last in a family line shows us more about the world than might otherwise be seen in their day-to-day lives, but the constant running from nefarious dark forces has long been overdone and nothing extraordinary sets this attempt apart from any of the many, many others available. Tad Williams’ The Dragonbone Chair does this with far more ingenuity, character, and interest, as a better example of the method.

Thematically Ruckley has some interesting ideas, and if he could focus on those more, I would consider the novel a very strong book. As I’ve said before, the characters and plot is a little flat, but the ideas of a Scottish-based royal governing system, set in the backdrop of a world whose gods have left it, and with a large-scale struggle between the ominously-named Black Road and the larger world, the author has all of the makings of an excellent story. If he could find a better way to capitalize on these very unique elements to create a unique peice of authorship, the novel would be much more fascinating, and live up to the very good writing exhibited here.

10/19/08 CSL

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