The Winter King
Narrated by Heather Wilds
Long books can be both a blessing and a curse. There’s nothing better than losing myself in a really long novel, but there’s nothing worse than suffering through until the end if it turns out to be horrible. At just over twenty-one hours in length, The Winter King definitely can be called lengthy. Fortunately, the story kept me engaged, and the hours flew by.
Wynter Atrialan is the king of Wintercraig. He began to rule when he was just sixteen, and he takes his duties very seriously. He is also fiercely protective of his younger brother. When the prince of Summerlea runs away with Wynter’s bride-to-be, killing Wynter’s brother in the process, Wyn knows it’s time for war. Summoning the power of the ice heart, he sets out to bring Summerlea to its knees. Three years later, the war is over. Wynter rides into Summerlea, not to negotiate peace, but to inform its ruler just what peace will cost him. Wyn is a hard man, and there’s no room for negotiations. Since Summerlea cost him a bride and an heir, Wyn demands one of the king’s beautiful and much-loved daughters as his wife. The Summerlea princess will bear him a child that will one day rule both kingdoms.
Enter Khamsin Curruscate, fourth princess of Summerlea, a young woman who has spent her life in the shadows of the court. Her father hates her, blaming Kham’s extraordinary and uncontrollable gift of weather magic for the death of her mother when Kham was just a child. Her father wants nothing more than to be rid of her, and to spite Wynter at the same time. Obviously, Kham becomes Wynter’s wife.
At first, neither is pleased by this arrangement. Wyn feels cheated – after all, giving up a hated daughter is no punishment at all. Kham fears that she will not be able to give Wynter the child he tells her she must produce within the first year of their marriage. Slowly, these two begin to get to know each other, and feelings soften and blossom.
Narrator Heather Wilds did a fabulous job narrating this multi-layered story. She employed a wide array of regional accents, pitches, and speech mannerisms to ensure that every character was distinctly voiced. The people of Wintercraig speak with something resembling a Swedish accent, while the residents of Summerlea sound very British. Khamsen’s nurse is given a bit of an Irish lilt. Ms. Wilds never falters, and always remains in character, no matter how many people are present in any particular scene.
Ms. Wilds handled the sexual tension between Kham and Wynter like a pro. She slows down to make sure the listener fully grasps the tender moments, then speeds up to let us see how much passion exists between our hero and heroine. It’s a bit of a balancing act, especially considering the amount of mistrust that exists between these two, but I was very pleased with the results. There was one problem with the narration which should have been caught during editing: Ms. Wilds has an odd way of breathing in the middle of sentences. This gives the story a choppy feel that isn’t at all appropriate. It makes it difficult to concentrate on the story itself because I kept trying to figure out what the various pauses meant. Eventually, I figured out that it was a verbal tic, so I did my best to ignore it.
Khamsin was a little difficult to warm up to. I pitied her, but there were times when liking her was extremely difficult. Her childlike devotion to one of her ancestors, a legend in the history of her people, got old really fast. She angered quickly, and often without provocation. Wynter was also guilty of this, causing many unnecessary arguments. There is someone in Wintercraig that doesn’t want Wyn and Khamsen to reach their HEA. The author makes it very clear who this person is, and I found the various attempts to keep them apart quite annoying and obvious.
Overall, The Winter King is an enjoyable foray into a world filled with magic and love. Despite some flaws, I definitely plan to seek out more of this author’s work.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration: B and Book Content: B+
Unabridged. Length – 21 hours 19 minutes