Winterglass is a sci-fantasy about one woman’s love for her homeland (Sirapirat) and her determination to defeat the Winter Queen who has overtaken the land.
The city-state Sirapirat once knew only warmth and monsoon. When the Winter Queen conquered it, she remade the land in her image, turning Sirapirat into a country of snow and unending frost. But an empire is not her only goal. In secret, she seeks the fragments of a mirror whose power will grant her deepest desire.
At her right hand is General Lussadh, who bears a mirror shard in her heart, as loyal to winter as she is plagued by her past as a traitor to her country. Tasked with locating other glass-bearers, she finds one in Nuawa, an insurgent who’s forged herself into a weapon that will strike down the queen.
To earn her place in the queen’s army, Nuawa must enter a deadly tournament where the losers’ souls are given in service to winter. To free Sirapirat, she is prepared to make sacrifices: those she loves, herself, and the complicated bond slowly forming between her and Lussadh.
If the splinter of glass in Nuawa's heart doesn't destroy her first.
Sriduangkaew's promising novella of a colonized people oppressed by a ruthless despot disappoints with an uneven plot and some missed opportunities for complex worldbuilding. In an incongruent fantasy world of mechanization and ghost-powered cities, winter has persisted for 50 years since the arrival of the Winter Queen, who destroys enemies and indigenous cultures with efficiency. Her magical mirror was shattered, and its shards imbue those who ingest them with great strength. In the occupied land of Sirapirat, Nuawa Dasaret was chosen as a child to absorb a shard and become a freedom fighter for her people. She bides her time, honing her skills in gladiatorial games. When she falls in love with the queen's loyal general, Lussadh al-Kattan, their relationship demands sacrifice and deception. Sriduangkaew (Scale-Bright) employs spare description, drawing together elements of fables, Asian cultures, steampunk, and variations on the theme of strong female characters. The plot hints at a larger story but lags in the middle, and motivation for the queen's rampage and conquest is flimsy.