Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Winter Be My Shield Winter Be My Shield
by Jo Spurrier

Supplied for review by Harper Collins New Zealand

Reviewed By: Deborah Knox

Winter Be My Shield is the first book in the "Children of the Black Sun" trilogy from epic fantasy author Jo Spurrier.

Sierra is on the run from blood-mage Kell and his apprentice Rasten who have been using her untrained magical talents to boost their own powers while torturing prisoners for the King. Sierra is rescued from death in the snow by Prince Cammarian and his followers, including the Prince’s foster-brother Isidro, also recently escaped from the blood-mages.

The world of Winter Be My Shield has an interesting although slightly uncomfortable magical system, Sierra has an empathetic magic which draws off others’ pain. This ability makes ordinary people fear her and makes her valuable to blood-mages like Kell and Rasten who can siphon off the magical energy she collects. The story gradually builds on our understanding of how this magic works and the different way each of the three countries of this world treat those with magical abilities. Sierra is from a land which outlaws the practice of magic entirely, so she is viewed as thoroughly evil and deceitful. Throughout the book she stands up for what she believes to be right only to find herself betrayed by those who distrust her ability.

This book focuses almost entirely around Sierra’s escape aided by Isidro and Prince Cammarian. Only in the final chapter which picks up six weeks later does the bigger storyline which has only been hinted at come to the front. With the book introducing me to a complex world of clashing viewpoints and cultures I am looking forward to the second instalment to watch Sierra discover more about her magic.

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