Brian Ruckley's debut fantasy novel, Winterbirth, received rather mixed reviews when it was published last year. Some praised the gritty (yes, that word again) storytelling and bleak world, others criticised the linear plot and mediocre characterisation.
Those of you who checked out my review of Winterbirth will know that I fell somewhere between the two camps. I thought the plot was too pedestrian and dragged in parts, while the characterisation - good in places - was not strong enough overall, with the main protagonist Orisian one of the real culprits.
However, I also said that I felt that Ruckley's world was well developed, with plenty of interesting history and lore underpinning it. I knew there was a good story in there somewhere, it was just a case of whether it would emerge in the subsequent novels.
Well, the time has come to find out. The sequel, Bloodheir, will be published in the UK in hardback on 5 June 2008 and in the US on 3 June 2008.
Here's the blurb:
As ever greater battles are fought between the Black Road and the True Bloods, so each side in the conflict becomes ever more riven by internal dissent and disunity. Amidst the mounting chaos, Aeglyss the na'kyrim gradually masters the remarkable powers that have been unleashed upon him by his crucifixion. Twisting everything and everyone around him to serve his own mad desires, he begins to exert a dangerous, insidious influence over the course of events both near and far. Orisian, lord of the ruined Lannis Blood, faces not only the consequences of that malign influence, but also the machinations of his supposed allies and the stirring of the long-dormant Anain, the most potent race the world has ever known.
Sounds promising, I'll admit. Aeglyss was easily the strongest character in Winterbirth, so watching him slowly slip into insanity will be interesting. The return of the Anain as well will add another dimension to the plot. As I said, I think there is real potential here, in both the world and the story. I just hope Ruckley delivers, as I'm willing to bet there are a number of readers out there like myself who are sitting on the fence and just waiting to see which way this series will go. Hopefully with Bloodheir we'll get an indication one way or the other.