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Once the great Glacier enclosed the Raumsdalian Empire. Now it's broken open, and Count Hamnet Thyssen faces a new world. With the wisecracking Ulric Skakki, the neighboring clan leader Trasamund (politely addressed as Your Ferocity), and his lover, the shaman Liv, Hamnet leads an exploration of the new territory in hopes of finding the legendary Golden Shrine.
But dangers abound. A violent and implacable group known as the Rulers has already killed many, and now they attack again. Riding deer and woolly mammoths and using powerful magic, the Rulers triumph and force the Raumsdalians to flee.
In the spring another battle ends even more badly for Hamnet's side, but the Glacier is also retreating, so they are able to escape. Meeting a tribe whose desperate living conditions have led them to overcome the Raumsdalian taboo against eating fallen foes, they find unexpected allies. Now, returning to the capital city and its intrigues, Hamnet prepares to lead an army against the merciless Rulers. The world, once so bounded and comprehensible, will never be the same...
The second Opening of the World fantasy novel (after 2007's The Gap) can easily be enjoyed on its own terms. The rise of the Rulers, a powerful group who ride mammoths to war and wield potent magic powers, poses a major threat to the Raumsdalian Empire. Count Hamnet Thyssen, a master warrior, rallies a ragtag mix of magicians, shamans and soldiers against the Rulers, who deal them a crushing defeat. The survivors make a perilous escape over an enormous glacier, where they encounter a band of cannibals and acquire a new shaman, the lovely and skilled Marcovefa. Sparks fly between her and Hamnet as the Rulers threaten further battle. While the prolific Turtledove may be best known for his alternate history works, he demonstrates his versatility and considerable imagination in this fast-paced military fantasy.