The Ring of Winter

The Ring of Winter

by James Lowder

Knowing that the artifact is hidden somewhere in the danger-filled jungles and recovering it are two entirely different matters, however--especially when a lost city, rampaging dinosaurs, and the villainous Cult of Frost all stand between Artus and his goal.The Ring of Winter is the fifth in an open-ended series of novels focusing on the Harpers, the secret organization for Good in the Forgotten Realms fantasy world

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His quest takes him to the island of Chult, where his coming sets off nation-rattling events. James Lowder also wrote the third book in the Empires trilogy (also in the Forgotten Realms novel series), Crusade, and events in that book are referred back to tangentially in spots, in a tasteful manner. Later Harpers books in that crossed over with other series (such as those written by Elaine Cunningham or Ed Greenwood) had better sales, I think.

Yes, I know that it is set within an established fantasy world (Forgotten Realms), but at the time of publishing, almost nothing had been written about the jungles of Chult. Were they "awakened" animals as in books like The Plague Dogs or Watership Down? Bottom line: There are hints of a great tale here, and I wish the author would have been given free reign to tell ALL of it. The only connection here is the Forgotten Realms secret society known as The Harpers.

***WARNING: SKIP TO THE REVIEW TO AVOID MINIMAL SPOILERS**** ***SUMMARY****** Artus Cimber and his adventuring companion, the old mage Sir Hydel Pontifax, travel to the jungles of Chult looking for the fabled Ring of Winter, a magical artifact that bestows its wearer with immortality, the ability to wield snow and ice, and the power to bring forth an Second Ice Age. Legend has it that the ring is a power of ultimate destruction. ***REVIEW****** The Ring of Winter is book 5 of 14 in The Harper series of the Forgotten Realms. While some of the books in this series are sequels to earlier Forgotten Realms novels, and other Harper stories lead into their own series, this is a completely stand-alone book. The protagonist, Artus Cimber can only be found in one other short story "The Family Business," which can be found in the first Forgotten Realms anthology entitled, The Realms of Valor (of which I have not read at the time of this review). The addition of Cyric to the story must have been due to Lowder's second Forgotten Realms novel written soon after, The Prince of Lies (the 4th book in The Avatar Series). Like all the Forgotten Realms books, this story is full of magic, Gods, and destiny. The comic relief by the two Wombats are a bit George Lucas-esque, but this aspect of the story, also common for a Forgotten Realms book, is small. Unlike some other Forgotten Realms books, it doesn't feel like the author rushes too quickly to end the story in order to finish up by the 312 page mark.

There were several things that bothered me, too, but I don't want to ruin the story for the rest of you...

The author just seemed to hope we'd like him because he's the protagonist of the story. The story was ok, I liked the work the author did on the lore of the land, and the book wasn't longer than it needed to be.

It's a short, easy read with paper-thin characters, but it's a decent little swashbuckling adventure in the jungles of Chult.

He's authored several best-selling dark fantasy novels, including Prince of Lies and Knight of the Black Rose, and has had short fiction appear in such anthologies as Shadows Over Baker Street and Genius Loci.