The chronicles of THE WINTER OF THE WORLD echo down the ages in half-remembered myth and song - tales of mysterious powers of the Mastersmiths, of the forging of great weapons, of the subterranean kingdoms of the duergar, of Gods who walked abroad, and of the Powers that struggled endlessly for dominion.
In the Northlands, beleaguered by the ever-encroaching Ice and the marauding Ekwesh, a young cowherd, Alv, saved from the raiders by the mysterious Mastersmith, discovers in himself an uncanny power to shape metal - but it is a power that may easily be turned to evil ends, and on a dreadful night Alv flees the Mastersmith, and embarks on the quest to find both his own destiny, and a weapon that will let him stand against the Power of the Ice.
With this engaging fantasy, Rohan's planned Winter of the World trilogy is off to a marvelous start. Through the device of a modern narrator translating the ancient Winter Chronicles, we enter a mythic ice age drawn by the vivid "voice of one who has seen and felt'' its ancient mysteries. When a coastal village is attacked by the seafaring, cannibalistic Ekwesh, a young thrall, Alv, is spared by their leader, Mylio the Mastersmith. In the shadow of the Great Ice, the sinister Mylio makes the boy his apprentice, but withholds the secrets of his art that would yield Alv, or Elof, as he comes to be called, a true mastery. As a test, Elof fashions a sword on which he etches elusive symbols. In Mylio's hands the weapon assumes an evil potency, and Elof, fearing for his life, escapes in pursuit of the knowledge that he has been denied. He meets the warrior Kermorvan, who ultimately joins Elof in a battle against Mylio for control of the Southlands. Writing with an element of suspense and a taut, lyrically haunting style that captures the bleakness of his setting, Rohan concludes the story in a way that is thoroughly satisfying, yet leaves the reader eager for the second volume of this series.