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Winterbirth (The Godless World #1)

3.33 of 5 stars 3.33  ·  rating details  ·  2,252 ratings  ·  167 reviews
An uneasy truce exists between the thanes of the True Bloods. Now, as another winter approaches, the armies of the Black Road march south, from their exile beyond the Vale of Stones.
For some, war will bring a swift and violent death. Others will not hear the clash of swords or see the corpses strewn over the fields. Instead, they will see an opportunity to advance their o
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Mass Market Paperback, 654 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by Orbit (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Felicia
Apr 27, 2008 Felicia rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Erikson fans, manly epic fans
Shelves: epic-fantasy
THANES! BURLY MEN! Magic wielding tribes who live off the land!

Well, I did read this book all the way through, but it was a hard road. There were some interesting characters, but the world building was very confusing, I kept flipping back and forth between the map and the dialogue. None of the characters really caught me to where I was really invested in their journey, and at the end I was STILL confused about what exactly was going on. I LOVE big fantasy series, but this was a bit harder for m
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David
This turned out to be the second to last book I read while recently stationed in Afghanistan. It was a very detailed world with well developed characters and a variety of new races, religions, societies, and politics. I enjoyed it immensely and while is was a long book I read through it very fast. Perhaps this is not on the level of George R. Martin's books or classic Tolkien but it was none-the-less a wonderful fantasy read. It had a great amount of violence for those who like there fantasy blo ...more
Jake
Another shot at fantasy, another 600 pages of sighing. This actually started off quite well, sort of 80% adult-serious, like a George RR Martin joint and 20% Terry Brooks, with the elves and shit. Some decent, realistic battles, some politics, some tribal, Cornwellian faux-history. Liked the first hundred pages enough that I ran out and bought the second book in the series.

And for the next 500 pages, nothing happens. There's whining by the main character. The slowest chase in the history of chas
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Doug B.
This book was a severe disappointment to me. I went in with eager anticipation from the blurb and reading some online reviews. What I got was cliche after cliche as characters and situations were complete rehashes of other books with little in the way of originality. I did like the presentation of one minor character, Taim, and was frustrated to find that it was one of the authors favorite characters (according to a short interview in the back of the book). That being the case, it would have bee ...more
 Charlie - A Reading Machine
A story I wanted to love just from the cover alone but it is very hard to follow and the lack of fully realised characters makes it tough to get absorbed. I think there are others who would like this more than I did. It jumps from place to place and the names are so damn confusing half the time I didn't know who I was reading about and by the time the rest of the story added context we were moving on.
Jeremy
Re-posting my review as it appears on my Book Review column: "Reading Realms" on The Outhouse Website: http://www.theouthousers.com/index.ph...

I've been holding this book in my hands in the bookstore over and over again through the last few months. It kept catching my interest with the blurb, but I hadn't really heard much about it. Well, when the whole trilogy was out in paperback I finally went ahead and picked them up (so the other two book reviews should be coming as well).

Well, I am very gl
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Nicole
I glanced at some of the reviews other members made on this site after I was well into the book and found that many of them gave low ratings; I was surprises. Personally, I think this book is splendid - one epic fantasy I'm beyond ecstatic to have picked up.

The story is very detailed; Brian Ruckley made sure to make everything and anything clear and easily understood when he built the Godless World in which his intricate characters exist. And the characters are very real. You can tell each apar
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Terence
I give Winterbirth a tepid 3 stars (more like a 2.6-2.8). It's not that there's anything "wrong" with Ruckley's writing but there's nothing that I can find that's extraordinary about it. I'm going to continue with the series because I do like Ruckley's style and the characters and his world are interesting enough to keep me engaged though I doubt I'll remember the series all that well a few years down the road (though that may be due to advancing dotage :-).

It's an enjoyable way to pass the time
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Cristina
Jan 25, 2008 Cristina rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
More of the same. There are no gods and people now it: great, so what? Same old political factions grinding against each other and the war is breaking. Again, so what? More teenage leads, more older, thougher guardians, more secret knowleadge that can save the world. And what is it about the elves? You give it a new name but it's still the same b**! If you enjoy this same old recipe, then great and good read. But I don't understand all the good reviews everywhere I look, when there are books lik ...more
Jay Javier
I really wanted to like this book. The world building was huge in scope and immensely intriguing in possibilities. It painted a medieval/fantasy world free from the cliches of normal fantasy worlds. I also liked the social structures outlined and how the people from the different castes interacted. Of special import too was the motivations behind the war brewing now as well as the wars waged in the past.

Two things though turned me off badly. One was the painfully slow storytelling. More than thr
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Tripp
Well, I have been away from great big fantasy novels for awhile, but this volume sat on my shelf looking so forlorn, that I just had to read it. Maybe the buzz around Game of Thrones was pushing me.

So I gave the book four stars. This is despite the fact that the book is crazily derivative. I am generally forgiving of that in my fantasy (everything is compared to Tolkien and Martin it seems.) You get the great responsibility thrust on the young. Conniving political leaders. Decadent cities. Brav
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Pamr
It is a book about disenfranchised (appologies for bad spelling)factions all of whom have something to be angry about...the lost something, betrayal etc etc...The cast is numerous and you find out things about them through the dialogue of the rest of the characters rather than through large mountains of prose. This can be hard work as it misdirects your attention from actual plot.

I did enjoy this book to an extent but always felt that it was the start of a trilogy or series, more of a pilot epis
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Daniel Ionson
Ruckly has created an in depth world with a strong sense of mythology and history. He also does better than most at avoiding anachronisms--the people in this world feel like they should in a Dark Age Fantasy tale.

Sadly, however, I have decided to stop [at the 60% mark] because (for whatever subjective reasons) I am not compelled by the tale. This could be because of a lack of a clear protagonist, which could be bound up with the problem of trying to zoom in on too many different characters and
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Matt
I really enjoyed Winterbirth. At first, I had a hard time keeping up with all the Haigs, Thanes, Bloods, and Bloodheirs but once I got a good feel for the world and how everything was run, the story engrossed me.

While I don't know if this series will stand out from many of the other fantasy series out there, one of the key qualities I enjoyed is that you really don't know who is going to live and who is going to die. The story is told from many differnt point of views from many all of the differ
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Satima
This review originally appeared on the now defunct webzine, The Specusphere, in January 2008. I wrote it in conjunction with my friend Joan Malpass.

Ruckley's debut novel tells of war and violence set in a land torn apart by the breaking of a truce. If Ruckley is to be believed, the greatest tales are written in blood. In this first book of a trilogy, he sets out to demonstrate that through lavishly described hard and heavy action set in a godless world of ice and blood. The adventure begins whe
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Mark
This debut novel is very impressive. Ruckley has a very distinctive style, but if I was asked to compare him to anyone, I’d have to say he’s a cross between Martin and Gemmell. Winterbirth is a great tale of epic fantasy set in a rich world of magic, warfare, politics and intrigue, all of which Ruckley deftly handles by weaving a flowing narrative through the pages with wonderfully fleshed out characters.
Bryan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James Cox
3.5 but I'm rounding up. I really liked the plot and the world building. The characters were good. I'm excited to read the next book in this series.
Stas
Many say this book is a nice in-between while waiting for Joe Abercrombie or GRR Martin to finish their next works: I must agree.

The Godless world, so named because the Gods have long abandoned their creation, is a wonderfully intricate universe. If, as some reviews say, the reader is left with a feeling of confusion and non-understanding, this is in a good way: the world feels simply to big, old and complicated for simple explaination in a single book.

The main conflict in the book refers back
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Jen
Well, they're not kidding about the world of blood.
I think that we of the 21st century western world cannot truly grasp the importance of blood ties as we might have once. Here, we have the True Blood Thanes (yes, they deserve capital letters) and the Kyrinin, who aren't human and strongly remind me of the blue guys in "Avatar" sometimes.
But anyway, we also have the Bloods of the Black Road, who believe so strongly in predestination they were exiled for it. I find predestination and them frustra
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Ketsugami
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Keziah Wallis
Winterbirth reads like a Viking/Anglo-Saxon fantasy novel in the style of George R.R. Martin.

There aren't really any bad guys or good guys here, with the exception of one particular group. The book starts with the Black Road followers being exiled and I thought that they would be the heroes of the book, however when they return 160 years later it is to conquer the places they once called home. The Thane of the Blood and the Thane of the Black Road Blood are both kings in the machinations and po
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Paula
I know, I promised no more trilogies (or series) but I picked this one up in a swap and decided I couldn't wait/wanted to see if the rest was worth bothering with...

I have to admit I was also intrigued by the differences in the reviews on Amazon - people seem to either like or hate this book, with very few opinions falling in the middle. It's pretty easy to see why, as there's a significant amount of world-building in this particular volume and the author doesn't worry about killing off (or doin
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Nathan
This is a pretty good fantasy novel. Not paced as well as I'd like, but the characters, plot, and world are interesting enough, and the prose fairly well done. Not too much text, not too little text. The villians are many but believable in their motivations, the protagonists are ordinary folk put in extraordinary situations but don't have the Tad Williams hero syndrome of being continually beat down by overwhelming odds. It's a bit more realistic than that.

Oddly enough, I think where this book f
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Lucinda
This novel caught my attention almost immediately with its eye-catching cover, that with the smoke and fog creates an almost dreamlike effect as well as the figure looking quite brutal and grusome. I apsolutely loved the inscription upon the front cover that says "...it is a world of ice, it is a world of blood, it is a godless world" and also the title which looks as though it could have been written in blood; fantastic! It is not often that i also judge a book on its cover nor am i so taken wi ...more
Grey Liliy
Okay. I gave up on it. 35% of the way through, and it's sat long enough by this point, that I don't think I'm going to finish it. I started reading today and realized I couldn't' remember who anyone was the book was talking about and considered it a sign.

Which is a shame, because I really did enjoy Ruckley's writing style, which is why I think it took me so long to throw in the towel. I wanted to finish this, but clearly I did not want it enough.

I think epic high-fantasy is not my genre. I never
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Justin
I suppose my review is not very fair, because I thought the first half of the book was just awesome....really thrilling- it was dark, mean, and paced well. Each territory of thanes had their grievances and alliances, the exiled lords raided when the time was right virtually wiping out the "good guys", and the intrigue of who wanted what and how it screwed the other guy was fantastic....then around page 350 it all went down hill. Suddenly we went from gritty military leaders and nobles all gnashi ...more
Brian Taylor
I’ll try to be as spoiler free as possible. Better get my review pants on.

Winterbirth is the first book in the Godless World Trilogy, and tells the story of a kingdom on the cusp of war, and change. In the place of kings we have Thanes. Of course, there’s a Thane of Thanes, or one guy ruling all the kingdoms. There are naturally alliances and political squabbling. To be honest, the first 100 pages is hard to get through. It’s slow and sometimes confusing because readers are trying to get a handl
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D.D. Syrdal
As others have said, I found the story derivative, as if the author was trying to create his own version of GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire series. I found some of the characters a stretch to believe (the grizzled old warrior/leader who is now a doting grandfather and wants nothing more in the world that scads of grandchildren underfoot). It's a little too 21st century PC.

The majority of the book is fairly bleak, lots of battles and hardships. Ruckley has left out the vast court intrigue and poli
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Coy
Aug 27, 2010 Coy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Coy by: Kenneth
It's always a risk for me, starting a new book, especially a new fantasy book by an author I had not tried. It's so easy to get fantasy wrong. An author has power of an entire universe, they are the creator, whereas with other genre's they have more of a pattern to follow. I say it's a risk for me starting a new book because I am reluctant to give up on a real flop out of sheer, sheer, pride? Stupidity? Determination? Commitment? Who knows, but on to this book. It was good. Kenneth did well in f ...more
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685776
I was born and brought up in Edinburgh. After studying at Edinburgh and Stirling Universities, and after a good deal of displacement activity (varying from spending three months in the rainforests of Borneo trying to record the dawn chorus of gibbons to briefly working in a tea warehouse / factory), I moved to England to enter the world of full-time employment.

As much by luck as judgement, I had a
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More about Brian Ruckley...

Other Books in the Series

The Godless World (3 books)
  • Bloodheir (The Godless World, #2)
  • Fall of Thanes (The Godless World, #3)
Bloodheir (The Godless World, #2) Fall of Thanes (The Godless World, #3) The Edinburgh Dead The Free Rogue Trooper:Last Man Standing

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