Pros:Likable characters, fantasy world of magic, suspense.
Cons:Jumps too far forward in time without more information of the between years.
The Bottom Line: It's not a bad book. I'd recommend reading this book first, then going back to the earlier novels.
Fortress of Ice by C. J. Cherryh is the fifth installment in the "Fortress" series, and I eagerly awaited its coming out. The first four books lead to a high point, and I was eager to see if Tristen (reluctant hero of the series) would finally claim his place in the world which was foretold. There were also a few loose ends from previous books I was wondering how Cherryh would tie up.
It's sixteen years after the last book, Fortress of Dragons, has ended. this story really centers on Elfwyn, King Cerfwyn's bastard son with Tarien Aswydd, and his legitimate brother Aewyn Marhanen. Well, more on Elfwyn.
The king has brought Elfwyn to the capital in an effort to somehow give the boy legitimacy and his name. Elfwyn and his brother Aewyn have been friends for years at this point, and have known they were brothers for years too. As the time to give Elfwyn legitimacy in the eyes of the church (almost as powerful as the king in not more so) bad things start happening. Finally the king contrives a plan to give the boy a way to leave the capital without arousing too much suspicion, but Elfwyn receives a fabricated message early and runs off into the winter snows.
I think what disappointed me most was that Tristen was a mere background player in this book. Pretty much all the characters from previous books are relegated to "walk-on" roles, or maybe a few scenes here and there. I can understand moving on in a series to other generations, but you really need to set that precedent earlier in the series - or at least give the readers a bit more information of the protagonists, and how things came to be so bad all of a sudden.
It took me a while to come to like Elfwyn. I think the book would have been better if even master Emuin, adviser and crotchety old wizard, had made an earlier appearance. In this book he has been gone for years, and is presumed dead by everyone.
While not a bad book in itself, I'm afraid that I can't give it the full marks it might otherwise deserve if it were a stand alone book. I would recommend it for readers who have read the previous books, just don't get your hopes up too high. For those who have started with this book, it might be better for you. If this had been the first book in the series it might have been better. Reading about the two boys, Elfwyn and Aewyn, and then how they came to be would have set the precedent for jumping around in time for Cherryh.
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