The Ninth Rain (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy #1), by Jen Williams
Description: (from Headline)
The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the realm of his storied ancestors falls to pieces – talk about a guilt trip. Better to be amongst the living, where there are taverns full of women and wine.
When eccentric explorer, Lady Vincenza ‘Vintage’ de Grazon, offers him employment, he sees an easy way out. Even when they are joined by a fugitive witch with a tendency to set things on fire, the prospect of facing down monsters and retrieving ancient artefacts is preferable to the abomination he left behind.
But not everyone is willing to let the Eboran empire collapse, and the adventurers are quickly drawn into a tangled conspiracy of magic and war. For the Jure’lia are coming, and the Ninth Rain must fall…
A new favourite! Well, maybe not an all-time-favourite but an omg-that-was-so-cool favourite!
I had a bit of a rocky start, because I thought the way the characters were talking to each other as though to let the reader know how the world works was a bit obvious and heavy handed. But it quickly faded away to let me enjoy the world and the characters.
The author’s previous trilogy (or at least, The Copper Promise, since I haven’t read the next two yet) made me feel as if I was reading a book that could have been a video game, maybe Skyrim-like. For The Ninth Rain, it was more on the side of a Dragon Age: Inquisition feeling! The world and nature has been corrupted by an ancient alien invasion leading to a bit of a sick-greenish ambiance: from the corrupted ground, to green magic fire and corpse moon, plus characters banding together to fight and look for answers.
This green magic fire comes from the fell-witches, that are being emprisoned and used for their powers, seen as evil since they need to drain life from living things to use it. They are only women, but while it made me wince a bit at first that it would use a binary view of gender, it is said later on that a trans woman developped this magic fire as well, so I was glad to see the author acknowledge this in her worldbuilding, even just in passing.
While there are several point of views, up to six I think, three stood out:
- Noon is a fell witch who escaped on a giant white bat from the place she was kept in. She was a very relatable character for me, she is a bit withdrawn at first, but slowly grows into herself. She also shares the dermatophilla condition with the author, and since I too keep gnawing at my finger’s skin, I really appreciated to find a character doing that as well.
- Vintage is everything I was looking for in a main character: an independant woman in her forties (though I sometimes felt she was written like an old woman, which was weird), a scholar, a queer woman, witty and quick to speak her mind, caring for her friends… I could go on, she is a very well rounded character.
- Tor is her friend and mercernary, an Eboran (could be described as part-elf-part-vampire kind of) running away from the disease eating his people. He is the kind of character I slowly got to learn to understand and like.
Some characters are introduced later in the novel and I feel they are going to be more important in the sequel, which I’m really happy about.
This novel went from very funny bits and dialogues to some awfully creepy parts, all the characters had a part to play and came together in a very natural way. While the first part lacked a bit of tension, I was so busy being curious about the unusual magical setting and varied characters that I didn’t minded at all. Once the story really started for real, this got even better and I read this book in record-time, thanks to the very mysterious tone of the novel which kept me guessing until the very end.
This was a fun fantasy novel, with a really good cast of characters, most of them women! I’m thinking about reading the sequel really soon because that ending was really cool.
Last note: that cover is amazing but I still don’t understand why it’s not green instead of blue, and I had been expecting more griffin than was delivered to be honest!
ALSO the small sized paperback is really great, just floppy enough and very easy on the hand, and eyes!
2 thoughts on “Book review: The Ninth Rain”
I am so excited to get to this this year.
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Ohhhh I hope you’ll love it as well 😀
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