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The Blood-Tainted Winter

(The Song of the Ash Tree #1)

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3.91  ·  Rating details ·  218 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Raef Skallagrim wants to take the sea road. His ship is fast and sleek, his crew skilled and eager, and they will seek out new lands and win fame in the eyes of the gods. But Raef’s father refuses to allow the journey and when a stranger brings word that the king is dead and a gathering has been called to choose a successor, Raef must set aside his dream for his duty to hi ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published November 20th 2015 by Grass Crown Press
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T.L. What great questions! My interest in the mythology goes way back to watching Richard Wagner's Ring cycle operas as a child. The story of the operas is…moreWhat great questions! My interest in the mythology goes way back to watching Richard Wagner's Ring cycle operas as a child. The story of the operas is based in Germanic mythology, which is basically a cousin of Norse mythology. Only later did my own Scandinavian heritage start to play a part and I began to read the sagas and eddas with serious interest. I think this long fermentation process actually made it easy to write in an established mythos. I didn't feel restricted, rather I felt like I had so much detail to pull from. When it came to the writing, there wasn't so much research involved as re-reading myths here and there, sometimes to use exact details, sometimes just to enhance the flavor.(less)

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Petrik
Apr 20, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Norse mythology fans
A good book but honestly, I’m a bit sad with my rating for this Norse inspired fantasy.

Well, 3 stars is still a good rating and I did enjoy the book, but I expected this book to be at least a 4 or even reaching 5 stars for many reasons. Norse mythology is one of my favorite mythologies in the world, it’s up there at the top of my favorite list with Greek and Japanese mythologies. After hearing about this trilogy and reading Greylock’s incredible short story in the anthology Lost Lore, I was supe
...more
Nimrod Daniel
Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I'd never read a norse-fantasy so I thought reading this one could be somewhat refreshing. Plus, I really like the cover, I think it’s great and that's what attracted me to check out this book in the first place.
As for the title of the book - It feels like "A song of Ice and Fire" could have been perfect for this book,as both ice and fire are very prominent here. Unfortunately some unknown guy already used this title for his series ;)

It was a fast-paced and gritty story about vikings, with enoug
...more
Jody
"In the beginning there was only burning ice and biting flame."


I have always found Norse mythology fascinating. So, it is a bit surprising that I haven't read more books or history based on this culture. Having said that, I first read T.L. Greylock's work a couple of months ago in the Lost Lore anthology. Her short story, Palesword, was one of my favorites in that collection and I knew I had to give this main series a try as soon as possible. I'm glad I finally followed through as Th
...more
Laura Hughes
“Dark are the hearts of men, and easily tempted.”

Raef Skallagrim is not a happy bunny. All he wants to do is go on a sea trip with his mates. He’s been looking forward to all it entails for ages: drinking, raiding, pillaging, ‘boys will be boys’ fun and games. Making memories, y’know?

But Raef also happens to be the only son of the lord of Vannheim. Now, Skallagrim Sr. is normally pretty chill, but he puts his foot down big time when the Boss calls a national snap election. When everything at sai
...more
J.P. Ashman
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very well written fantasy/mythology heavily based on Viking myth and legend - and it certainly had that feel. At times, I could have seen this as a historical fiction, but those subtle elements of gods and magic were there, tied in with the story.

I took a long time reading this because I read it on Kindle, and I'm a nightmare with my Kindle. I have fads of reading it and times where it sits there, neglected. Each time I picked it up, however, I fell right back into the solid worldbuilding and
...more
Alec Hutson
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Over the centuries much of the magic and mystery has leached from the world - science now tells us that thunder is caused when air fills the void left by a bolt of lightning, but a thousand years ago men might have believed that sudden crack was giants arguing in the hills. The poetic explanations for nature have been dispensed with, but in The Blood-Tainted Winter I really felt like I was interpreting the world through the eyes of the Norseman Raef, and it lent the story a dream-like quality th ...more
Dyrk Ashton
May 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I love me some Norse mythology inspired fiction, so deciding to read this book was a no-brainer. Other than knowing that about it, though, I had no idea what to expect. As it turns out, the story takes place in Midgard (Earth, where the humans dwell), as opposed to Asgard (where the gods party down and Valhalla is built), or any of the other "worlds" in Norse mythology - which is cool. We follow a young Lord's-son warrior named Raef Skallagrim, as he becomes embroiled in what on the surface seem ...more
Kareem
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

This is a great book that really needs more noise making about it.

A viking fantasy that takes Nordic mythology, mixes it with a boot load of shield walls, swords, axes, fire and death, and blends it all to create a fast paced and engaging story.

T.L. Greylock really captures the viking culture and landscapes in this book. But what I especially love is how she can make sneaking through/scouting in Scandinavianesque woodland feel so closed in and claustrophobic. There is a real sense of
...more
Holly (The Grimdragon)
"I will feed your balls to a troll!"

The Blood-Tainted Winter is a book that I won through the author on her Twitter account. I had been following Taya for some time and I mean.. that cover has caught my eye on more than a few occasions! I was definitely happy to have won a copy because my luck is SHIT, at best.

Greylock's debut novel was a contender in Mark Lawrence's SPFBO (Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off) contest back in 2016. The Grey Bastards was the eventual winner. It's disappointing that T
...more
David Firmage
May 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Not a mythology geek of any kind but I enjoyed this nordic romp.
Anna Stephens
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
An engaging and far-sweeping saga in which the gods of Asgard meddle in the affairs of men. The story follows Raef, son of a lord murdered at the gathering to elect a new high king. His impetuous and anger-fuelled nature means he hastily declared another lord to be the murderer - and all that follows is as a result of that decision.
In this first volume, events overtake Raef's seeking of vengeance and war like Midgard has never before seen envelops the lords and the landscape. Mysterious shieldm
...more
Marielle
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books-own
Very much enjoyed it! Review will follow...
Kristen
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
(You can see a bigger and prettier version of this review here, on my blog.)

I had thought to lay down and get a couple chapters of this book in before sleep, and suddenly it was 2am and I still didn't want to sleep because some cool shit was going down and I needed to know how it played out. To be honest, the first 1/4 or so of this book brought me back to running across Skyrim, visiting each of the Jarls. Don't look at me like that, I didn't say it was a bad thing. I spent something like 2000 h
...more
Brandi
Sep 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
T.L. Greylock's "The Blood-Tainted Winter" is an original, fast-paced adventure. Raef is unlike other protagonists and has very human qualities. He is neither portrayed as a superhero nor a bumbling fool, making him a more believable character. The writing flowed well and kept my interest. I didn't notice too many lulls in the story (or boring parts) like many other works within this genre. Overall, I enjoyed this book (I'd rate it about 4.7) and would not hesitate to read more of T.L. Greylock' ...more
T.O. Munro
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a child I was captivated by John Borman's magnificent "Excalibur" and particularly the score that drew heavily on Wagner's Ring Cycle. Fortunately my room was at the back of the house so the endless replaying of Gotterdamerung late into the night did not disturb too many people.

But that long ago musical crescendo heralding the twilight of the Norse gods came back to me as Taya Greylock's first volume drew to its conclusion.

Raef Skallagrim's story is set in an explicitly viking milieu, though
...more
Richard Nell
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic read. Absolutely recommended for really any fantasy reader, particularly for any fans of Norse mythology, but really even historical fiction lovers. Three main reasons:

1. The writing. For me, bad writing ruins a good story, and good writing hardly needs a story. Fortunately this book actually has a good story, but nevermind. Ms. Greylock knows how to show, rather than tell, and it's obvious on every page. The description is great, efficient, and nothing feels overly-described. Really,
...more
Logan
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.25 stars. Dang, this book was really good.
I loved how realistic and distinct the characters were. But it was the writing that impressed me. The author nailed the Norse-viking vibe and I felt totally absorbed in the culture and beliefs of these people. It just felt so real. The pacing was great and there were very few dull moments.
I am intrigued by the magic and want to see more of what is going on with the gods of this world. That is the only gripe I had about this book, although I get the id
...more
Jon Adams
Dec 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have a soft spot for Norse fantasy, and this book nailed it. I immediately purchased the next two. :)
Timandra Whitecastle
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This feels a bit like a return to my roots here. I mean, sure I love fantasy, but I sidled into it after reading lots of Bernard Cornwell‘s historical fiction. (The Warlord Chronicles remain my favourite Arthurian retelling to this day!)

TL Greylock managed to transmit that same feeling in this book. You follow a young man called Raef who must give up on his dreams of sailing the whale road, and ends up in an epic battle with fantastical elements (army of undead warriors, Loki‘s involvement, etc)
...more
Jessica
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This turned out to be the perfect book to read after The Norse Mythology from Niel Gaiman! The Norse gods Odin, Thor, Loki ect all play a big part in both books. Super excited to read the second book!
Laura
Aug 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
From the first page, you are drawn into the story and life of Raef. He is the son of a lord and has a dream to live the free and adventurous life of a man of the sea. His dream is violently interrupted with the news of the King's death and while his heart is with the water, he is pulled more forcefully by obligation and retribution. He is forced to make the difficult decision of what to put first. The author's intelligent and captivating ability to weave a story using family obligation, war, myt ...more
Brian O'Sullivan
Apr 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
There’s something rotten in the State of Denmark in T. L. Greylock’s Blood Tainted Winter … except that, technically Denmark doesn’t actually exist yet (and mythologically speaking, the happenings are based more in the Norway side of things). There are however, troubling events afoot in Midgard. The king has died, a number of strong contenders are manoeuvring to succeed him and, meanwhile, strange travellers pass through the land talking fearfully of war.

For Raef Skallagrim, son of the Lord of V
...more
Dan Borkowski
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
"The Blood-Tainted Winter" is a wonderfully crafted fantasy novel set in the Norse tradition. The characters were compelling, and the plot served its purpose well as a first for a trilogy. Enough threads were tied at the end where I felt satisfied, but I still wanted to know what's in store next for Raef and his band of somber misfits. Often, books of this nature can have gods that are too heavy-handed with their influence, but it felt right in this book, similar to how the gods have influence i ...more
Shannon
Jul 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A heavily Norse-inspired fantasy novel, The Blood-Tainted Winter is a fun read. The prose is good overall. I don't have too many saved passages on my kindle, but there is next to no awkward narration/dialogue.

The magic, via the familiar faces of Loki/Freyja/Odin/Thor, is ever-present but light in touch (for the most part). I enjoyed the balance, but I wouldn't be opposed to see things ramp up in book 2. The ending does seem to tease that things are going to get a lot bigger in stake.

The book su
...more
Jason Aycock
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Swords and axes clash while Valhalla calls in T.L. Greylock’s epic norse inspired fantasy The Blood Tainted Winter.

This is my first review for Self-Published Fantasy Month 2020 and I chose a great book to lead off with. I mean c’mon, who doesn’t like Viking stories? OK, fine I’m sure some of you don’t like Viking stories but whatever. I like Viking stories and that’s what matters today. More importantly this book has more going for it than just being a Norse inspired tale; it’s a story of betray
...more
Aderyn Wood
In Midgard, the king is dead and a gathering is convened to choose the successor. Raef is forced to staunch his desire to discover new lands and must attend the gathering with his father, Lord of Vannheim. When murder disrupts the search for a new king, war breaks out and Raef burns with a new desire: a thirst for revenge.

"You know as well as I the rumours of battle in the northern lands, of foul betrayal and cursed blood."

Greylock effortlessly portrays the gritty world of war in this sweeping N
...more
David J. Roche
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
BACK UNDER ODIN' s SPELL...

Great read. Excellent characters, shows the weakness & strengths of men at war..Great recreation of that time...the muck & the mire Plus crows & did I mention the irascible one eyed God...Already own the other two volumes...
...more
Shreya
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nothing is as it seems

I consider myself to be well versed in fantasy fiction but the book still managed to throw a few curves my way. Often, I fell frustrated by the protagonist's actions but they remained consistent with his character. I'm excited to see how this develops.
Travis Peck
Jul 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was a great read. The Blood-Tainted Winter is a fast-paced, well-written Viking story that leaves you wanting more(and luckily, there IS more, I've already added the next installment to my reading list!). There is plenty of action in this book for those of us bloodthirsty readers, but it also boasts great characters who are forced to navigate through a muddied political scene that is rife with alliances and betrayals...oh yeah, throw in some half-god, half-mortal humans, some Valkyries, and ...more
Paul Heiring
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I thought this book was terrific! I am very much looking forward to the next two installments in this trilogy. It was fast-paced, with interesting characters, and cleverly weaves together Viking lore and Norse mythology with a little magic thrown in. Hard to believe this is T.L. Greylock's first book!
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T L Greylock's first series is The Song of the Ash Tree, a Norse saga featuring plenty of axes. She loves wild rice, Rafael Nadal's forehand, and driving on small, twisty roads. She also considers herself a baker of pies, but this is debatable.
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The Song of the Ash Tree (3 books)
  • The Hills of Home (The Song of the Ash Tree, #2)
  • Already Comes Darkness (The Song of the Ash Tree, #3)

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