Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Winterbirth (The Godless World, #1)” as Want to Read:
Winterbirth (The Godless World, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


(The Godless World #1)

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  3,139 ratings  ·  205 reviews
The greatest tales are written in blood...

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. They instead
Paperback, 541 pages
Published September 10th 2007 by Orbit (first published 2006)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Winterbirth, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Winterbirth

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.37  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,139 ratings  ·  205 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Winterbirth (The Godless World, #1)
Sep 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this first book in the series.
Very interesting to say the least.
Before writing a full review, I am going to read book 2 first.
Just in case the series takes a turn for the worst.
However, if Bloodheir is anything like Winterbirth, I shan't be disappointed.
Apr 27, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Aug 23, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
Apr 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Mar 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
Re-posting my review as it appears on my Book Review column: "Reading Realms" on The Outhouse Website:

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
Doug B.
Dec 30, 2008 rated it did not like it
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 ...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.
Feb 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 " 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 ...more
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 25, 2008 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Jun 19, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
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
Nov 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, favorites
This is an excellent story. I've enjoyed reading it over the past thirteen months! Amazingly well described action. Realistic characters that you feel invested in. Complete fear that anyone could die at any moment. Interesting world building. Truly thoughtful and thought provoking dialogue. This is an incredible book! I had some difficulty sorting out the name at first because of the way the royalty showed their allegiance, but that was overcome and as the story developed I found I enjoyed the ...more
MrPinkInk Jacques de Villiers
I made it to page 231 but I just couldn't read anymore; I ended up not finishing this - and by extension book 2 & 3.

It is really slow and quite reminiscent of Game of Thrones - which was very heavy reading - and I may come back to it at a later stage.
Oct 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very detailed world, lots of different characters and perspectives and some thought provoking parts made this a very entertaining read.
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
Dec 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first time I saw this book in my favorite Borders, I was interested but rather hesitant. (I was the same way with Joe Abercrombie's First Law series.) Nevertheless, I kept stumbling across this title until I finally broke down and picked up a copy.

Yet another 'epic fantasy' a la Joe Abercrombie and George R.R. Martin, this trilogy's first volume is not as brutal as the former yet a bit grittier than the latter. While a very good read, with a lot of potential, I had difficulty keeping
Aug 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 12, 2008 rated it liked it
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
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Liam by: Sarah
It took me a while to warm up to this (somewhat fittingly), but once I did I absolutely inhaled it.

Winterbirth is set in a world abandoned by its Gods. This concept alone had me interested immediately. Potent gods/deities/divine beings in general have always been a very interesting concept to me and, as someone who doesn't believe in any sort of faith, satisfying in a way that general religion in fantasy settings isn't. The idea of those potent gods abandoning their creation is very unique and
Lauren Dorman
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I am a big fan of this series mostly because of the villain. Don't get me wrong, I am in no way bashing anything else... I found the characterization spot on, but the villain... Oh my. Aeglyss is to this day my favorite villain I've ever read about. His transformation to the cruel person he becomes is absolutely heart wrenching at times. I wanted so badly for someone to come along and be kind to him and was genuinely rooting for him to succeed at times. I still wanted the good guys to win in the ...more
Dec 20, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy-read
Long Winded Fantasy, Slow Paced But Solid

Only for real fans of the genre, this novel is well researched and Brian Ruckley has obviously put lots of time into it, but it is too slow paced for the average reader, it took me about 2 months of stopping and starting to finally complete the novel, the characters are a little shallow in depth and could have been pulled from almost any wartime fantasy series, some of the other races mentioned may bring some depth and interest in later on but only one
Nov 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-it
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
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
Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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.
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is a true epic fantasy. It is very low magic, as A Song of Ice and Fire is, where the magic is subtle almost implied or assumed. When it happens though, it is amazing. The author weaves a strong story with a heavy plot that has you concerned for the characters and the lands they occupy. This is indeed a great work and I am fixing to start reading the next book very soon.
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I was supposed to be touring Australia and just picked it up in a hostel book swap but I could not put it down! But then again this is my kind of book. I need to get onto reading the rest of the trilogy and just hope they are as good as this one.
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Slow going in the beginning and there are things I am still a little confused about. After the second chapter though, I was hooked. I couldn't put it down. Now I'm yearning for the second "Bloodheir". The author created is own world and you can not help but being sucked in!
Nov 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A book that well leave you're mouth hanging open if you're a Sci-Fi reader.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Dragon's Path (The Dagger and the Coin, #1)
  • The Blood Knight (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, #3)
  • The Born Queen (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, #4)
  • The Summoner (Chronicles of the Necromancer, #1)
  • A Shadow in Summer (Long Price Quartet, #1)
  • Men of Bronze
  • Priest of Bones (War for the Rose Throne, #1)
  • Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt, #1)
  • Lamentation (Psalms of Isaak, #1)
  • Ascension (The Trysmoon Saga, #1)
  • Collector (Collector, #1)
  • The Blood King (Chronicles of the Necromancer, #2)
  • The Briar King (Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, #1)
  • The Sworn (Fallen Kings Cycle, #1 / Les Rois déchus)
  • Dark Lady's Chosen (Chronicles of the Necromancer, #4)
  • Dark Haven (Chronicles of the Necromancer, #3)
  • The Last Light of the Sun
  • The Broken Realm (The Saga of Roland Inness #3)
See similar books…
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

Other books in the series

The Godless World (3 books)
  • Bloodheir (The Godless World, #2)
  • Fall of Thanes (The Godless World, #3)
“Think how much happier the world might be if people sought approval for what they do from their children instead of their ancestors.” 9 likes
“unwise to dance with wishes unless you’ve the mettle for it. Wishing for what is not is a fast way to poison your heart.” The” 1 likes
More quotes…