Review of Cold From The North by D.W. Ross (no spoilers)

Have you ever felt cold from just reading a book? 🥶 🥶

I’ve been walking in the mountains when sudden hail storms have blown in, when the wind has turned bitter, and the air become icy. There is a very distinct pain to being cold and outside in the elements – but very rarely brought to life for me in literature. By chapter three, I was fully invested in this book. I felt the cold.

To give a bit more of the premise, The Cold From the North is about the awakening of an ancient prophecy which will bring the dark ways of an old god to prominence. Based on this prophecy, an army of invaders engulf Ogulf Harlsbane’s homeland – slaughtering all those who oppose them. Ogulf and the people from his village must flee from this savage force. In doing so, he is tasked with finding the one person who can stop the onslaught.

So there you are – a great concept and a great mix of the familiar and the new. If you were a fan of Game of Thrones and the scenes north of the wall, you will enjoy this book. There are some Norse inspired aspects, but not too much either; this is certainly its own world. In that sense, I found the world building to be strong, not perhaps the most unique, but interesting and distinct enough to be compelling.

D.W. Ross has created a fantastic debut fantasy novel. I felt how painful the severe cold was. I had huge anxiety when Ogulf and the other villagers were crossing over a very dangerous mountain. The final battle was well constructed, and the magical system enjoyable to read.

Another thing that D.W Ross has really excelled at is mixing the action with characterisation. I felt that I knew Ogulf and Melcun really well. For a novel that starts off with the inciting incident quite early on, this was great. Lots of books can fail to paint their characters if the action starts too soon.

Another thing I enjoyed was that Ogulf, our main character, was the warrior, and his friend, Melcun, was the mage. It was a relationship a bit like that of Merlin and Prince Arthur in the BBC TV series – except with the roles reversed. It is Ogulf who is protective of Melcun rather than the other way round. This made for an interesting dynamic.

Whilst the story was mostly told from the perspective of Ogulf, there were occasional chapters told from different perspectives which was another added bonus. These chapters were always engaging.

The only small critique I’d have of the book is that once Ogulf and his friends reach a place of safety, which was about 1/3 of the way through the novel, the pace slows for a bit as some of the prophecy and magic system is explained. For me this section of the novel gave over too much information, at times repeated what we already knew, and slowed the progression of the story. It’s a small point, and the pace promptly picked up again. If any readers reach this part and feel the plot has slowed too much, rest assured it doesn’t last for long.

Overall, I feel this was a very solid debut and I know the second book is on its way. A lot of world-building has been done in Cold From the North and I’m excited to see where the story will go.

I think anyone who likes The Last Kingdom books would like this. It’s got great adventure elements alongside a great fantasy concept. I’d also recommend this for teenagers wanting to read fantasy but who are too young for Game of Thrones and other more adult fantasy. While there is some gore and battle scenes, it doesn’t have anything too graphic and while there are hints of romance, there is nothing explicit here either.

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