This review should be free of major spoilers but as it is the review of a sequel it will contain some very minor spoilers akin to the blurb on the back of each book - but nothing major - Enjoy!
A review of
Too Cold to Bleed
Too Cold to Bleed is the second novel in the Red Season series by D.M. Murray and I dove straight into this sequel after finishing the first book, Red Season Rising. The author told me he thought the writing in this book was better than the first, and I have to agree with him (not that the first was bad, the writing was fantastic, but this is even better). The prose is indeed more fluid and striking, and there is some beautifully written passages in this one.
Anyway, we pick up the story where it left off and re-join Kalfinar as he and his cousin Broden mount a daring expedition to rescue Evelyne from the clutches of King Grunnxe of Solansia. After the epic battles and sieges of the first book Grunnxe strangely retreats, but why? Well he has Evelyne, and with her he has Dajda, he has everything he needs now to bring about the dominion of his master, Balzath. They must save her to stop the usurper god Balzath from taking dominion and beginning a reign of blood and terror over the entire world.
Kalfinar and Broden lead a small team of rangers to the far north to reclaim Evelyne from Hagra Iolach, the icy home of the Ravenmayne, where Grunnxe is hastily travelling to imprison her. Their mission is fraught with danger as they traverse freezing seas and uncharted territory belonging to the indigenous Maracost, a people of similar heritage to the Ravenmayne.
We also see things from the enemy camp as we get chapters from Evelyne in her captivity as she is forced to dine with the mad king while plotting any possible escape.
In the south trouble stirs between the Free Provinces and the realm of Cannan, after the events of book one tensions are frayed and forces are at work to turn the two realms against eachother. The capital of Carte, still in disarray and weakened by Grunnxe, is facing the prospect of yet another siege. It is left to Thaskil and Subath (who is amazing and hilarious) to lead the forlorn and probably hopeless defence against an army of much greater numbers.
We are also introduced to another set of characters, this time in a remote part of Solansia. We meet Ruah, a crippled peasant girl living on the frontier who’s home and everyone she knows destroyed by the retreating Solansian army, everyone except one, a boy who often antagonised her, Halpern. Together they set off in the wake of the army to exact revenge and try to rescue their surviving fellow villagers. Along the way they meet the mysterious Culver, who joins and aids them in their struggle and they are also joined by an abandoned dog—who becomes quite a loveable character. Together they make their own perilous journey, also to Hagra Iolach and hope to find their vengeance on those that took everything from them.
This is a fantastic sequel, every storyline is packed with cool and interesting events and characters. The new settings are suitably fierce and well portrayed. The north is a cold terrible place and you really feel the chill bite of every gust through Murray’s prose. There are battles and fight scenes aplenty in this book also, the siege of Carte is hopelessly epic, and Subath has become one of my favourite characters – he’s just a crazy, hard bastard who gives no fucks, and he’s ace. The jeopardy and peril is quite gripping throughout, it really keeps the pages turning. D.M. Murray has done a stunning job and I look forward to reading more from him in the future. Check these books out!
Thanks for reading