Five hundred years ago the world shattered, banishing the gods from the Sister Continents. In seventeen days a religious cabal will summon the gods back to the realms of men.
In the northern tundra priests search the Steaming Lakes, a place tormented by the Wakened Dead. Deep in the mountains, demonic shadows assail priests at a holy shrine. In the south, the clans know something foul is afoot, and dispatch warriors to seek answers, but instead they find horrors.
A young priestess named Eliles stands in the heart of this conspiracy, on her shoulders rest decisions which could prevent a holy war or demonic genocide. Through lies, manipulation, and murder, everyone is on a seventeen day march to fulfill or defy prophecy; the world will end or begin anew, come the Eve of Snows.
Rice handles a large cast of characters with the skill and flair of a fire juggler. The romance between Eliles and Ivin feels a little obligatory and contrived, but notes such as Eliles’s tender relationship with her mentor, Tokodin’s jealousy of his betters, and Ivin’s commanding officer occasionally feeding him jerky to politely silence him all round out the characters with believable personalities and motivations. There’s a fun element of tension through the middle as the characters first meet one another or narrowly miss introductions.
Gripping action scenes, evocative writing, and steady story momentum make the pages fly. The shadows bring a genuine chill with every appearance. The mystery surrounding the banished gods sparks curiosity, and Rice draws a fine line between feral magic and answered prayers. The plot is marked with plenty of surprising twists as Eliles and Ivin confront shadows and the conspiracy within Istinjoln. There is a solid conclusion, but Rice leaves enough unanswered questions and ambiguity to have readers theorizing possibilities and itching for the next installment. This extremely impressive series launch is guaranteed to earn die-hard fans.
Takeaway: The high-stakes plot, fast pacing, and convincing characters will hook epic fantasy readers on this impressive debut.
Great for fans of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, R. Scott Bakker’s Prince of Nothing series.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-
Though the novel is dense in plot and characters, debut novelist Rice maintains a surprisingly sharp focus… The final act boosts the action, introduces menaces, and involves a few shocking revelations… Brimming with well-defined details and characters; augmented by bountiful enthusiasm and spirit. – Kirkus Reviews
A Christmas day announcement!
Eve of Snows: Winner of the 2019 Epic Fantasy Fanatics Readers Choice Award.