#SPFBO Review : The Throne of Ice & Ash (The Runewar Saga #1) by JDL Rosell  


The Throne of Ice and Ash by JDL Rosel is the final book I picked up from my fourth batch of books.   I have now completed all 15 books and will be posting an update soon.   My reviews so far are linked below and you can find feedback from my first, second and third batch of books here, here and here and further information on SPFBO here.


TToIaA is an excellent start to series and a book that I really enjoyed.  This is high fantasy with a Norse setting and a background that feels somewhat familiar at the same time as leaving it’s own mark.

As the story starts (after a rather tantalising Prologue) we are immediately introduced to Bjorn.  The third son of the jarl of Oahharrow.  Bjorn is more inclined to be sat with a book than swinging a sword and is ill suited to the role that he will soon find himself in. Bjorn’s sister Aelthena also rails against the path that she will eventually be expected to follow, a path ordinaed by those who have long since departed and yet continue to dictate the way her people behave (apparently a woman’s place is before the hearth’).  Both of their unwanted paths are about to be shattered following an attack on Oakharrow that leaves the people reeling.

As a result of this shocking attack the two siblings part ways.  Bjorn, leading a small band of men, travels into the mountains seeking answers and (on Bjorn’s part) vengeance.  Aelthena remains behind and steps into the role of leader that she has sought for so long.

What did I really enjoy about TToIaA?  It’s very easy to read, it’s a book that, without doubt, grows in strength and confidence as the pages turn and the two central characters go through such trials and tribulations, experience things that challenges everything they know and basically make mistakes that lead to a real sense of change in both.

Strangely enough, as the story set out, and apart from (wrongly) thinking I knew which direction it would ultimately go in, I seriously expected to enjoy Aelthena’s role the most.  I love the idea of this young woman desperately trying to forge her own path in life and ultimately finding it’s actually much harder than she ever imagined.  Apart from anything else, even during the throes of disaster people will scheme and that’s the beauty of this particular storyline – it takes us back to Oakharrow where we witness the treachery and backstabbing first hand.  Obviously, not only does this give us sight of both scenes but it gives something of a welcome relief to the fighting and grimness of Bjorn’s storyline.  However, and this is the point I was trying to get to in a very long winded fashion, was that I actually found myself favouring Bjorn’s storyline.  Not just because of the action, the travels, the strife and the fighting, but, well, one, I was so puzzled about where this was going, but two, I found his story arc equally fascinating.  Both siblings are joined in their stories by a companion.  Frey is a guardian, or bodyguard for Aelthena and Yonik is a priest who accompanies Bjorn. Both of these characters play important supporting roles although Yonik is probably the most fascinating of the two and I would love to know more about him.

Bjorn, is his own worst enemy.  He constantly berates himself for being a coward, I can’t deny that I wanted to slap him on occasion because, bear with me, if a big angry bear was charging towards me – I’d want to run.  Come on already, this is not cowardice, it’s natural (probably foolish as well I realise – running from an animal – but still, natural instinct).  Standing in the path of that bear is not really bravery – it’s foolishness.  I joke of course (I mean, obviously I wouldn’t run, nope, not me).  But, yes, Bjorn is not your typical Viking warrior.  He doesn’t want to die in battle.  He’s as far from the viking stereotype as you can possible get to in some respects.  He also has hidden abilities but I won’t elaborate on that at this point.

The worldbuilding is also really good. I loved that this takes inspiration from the familiar at the same time as giving it a twist.  The setting is easy to imagine, the history of the clan is really well delivered and there are other aspects that feel well explored but are original.

In terms of criticisms.  Okay, I thought the action took a little while to get established.  Personally, I don’t mind a some set up but this was a little slow to get really started and that leads to my next slight issue which is the plot feels a little thin, in a way I’d say this has a set up feel but at the same time I don’t feel overly negative about that as it is intriguing. More that I would mention that by the time this book concludes, and although it does have the next path clearly laid out, I would still say I don’t really yet have a handle on what’s going on here – is that a bad thing? No, not really, but I really do feel still a little in the dark.  And, of course, this ending, although it has a sense of completeness in terms of a natural break off point – does still leave threads unexplored.

On the whole, I had a good time with this one and would certainly pick up the next in series to see where the author goes next.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.

My SPFBO reviews to date:

  1. Deathborn by CE Page
  2. Graves Robbed, Heirlooms Returned by Ashley Capes
  3. Stranded by Rosalind Tate
  4. One of Us by ML Roberts
  5. Berserker by Dimitrios Gkirgkiris
  6. Stone Magus by Stephanie C Marks
  7. Book of Secrets by Claudia Blood
  8. Dragonbirth by Raina Nightingale
  9. Carrion by Alyson Tait
  10. Iarraindorn by Phil Dickens
  11. Rising Shadows (The Pillar of Creation, #1) by Phillip Blackwater
  12. By the Pact by Joanna Maciejewska
  13. Little White Hands by Mark Cushen
  14. Out of the Dust by Joe Coates