Fiction Friday is a series where I talk about what I’ve been reading. Short Stories (and sometimes Novellas) are featured as in-between posts and the first Friday of the month will feature a new novel review. Today, I review The Last Winter by Samwise Didier.
Fiction Friday: The Last Winter Review
I love reading stories from developers I love, so when I saw this book, I was admittedly curious. Today’s story is The Last Winter, by Samwise Didier. You can find it here. It’s a fun, simple tale about a clan of bear-like people who try to survive when their home is torn by a powerful winter deity. It’s a good read, and while not perfect, it’s one I still recommend.
So let’s begin.
Long ago, the world was made by four powerful deities. Among them, the lord of ice, Wintyr and the lord of fire, Sumyr, fought endlessly and tore the land in a battle of frost and fire. The goddess of life, Sprign, prevented another conflict by separating the two and creating the island of Mistgard. There, she created a race of bear-like creatures known as the Pandyr, who cared for them as if they were her children. However Sprign’s time has come, and she passes on. Now, with no defense, the giants march upon Mistgard.
Their only hope is to unite and seek a lost clan that will guide them to victory, but it is not without hostility. The clans don’t particularly trust one another and are life-threateningly stubborn. Yet they must work together to overcome the two giant’s conflict and save their land before there’s nothing left.
It’s a basic story, but a fun one to read. It invoked a lot of memories of games such as Warcraft. If you don’t know, Samwise Didier is a game developer working on many of their well known properties. He’s also the creator of the infamous Pandaren and this story seems to invoke that kind of gritty innocence Blizzard is known for.
While the story itself is basic, there’s not much else to say. I got this because I wanted to see a story from a Blizzard developer that wasn’t any of their current properties. A unique tale that could have been made from them. It shows the kind of magic they possess with believable world and a unique and lovable cast to go with it.
The only notable one to discuss is the main hero, Frostpaw. He’s essentially the outcast, raised by a Pandyr who cursed his people and now, they believed he was cursed as well. His father was once a great hero who, due to a mysterious voice, drove himself to hostility, but left because he didn’t want to injure his clan. The other clan members, while jovial, do not see him as any bit if help.
It’s a tale we’ve heard before where the outcast becomes the hero. Many of the characters have personality but I felt they could have had a little more to them. None of them were bad, just they didn’t have a massive impact that makes them as memorable as anything Blizzard created.
So while the story itself is fine and clear, the writing is at most basic. It’s clear that Samwise is a writer as a hobbyist. Numerous lines lack any sort of uniqueness and have lots of telling rather than any painterly showing. I think putting some effort in the wordplay would have made this a tremendous read. Reading it, it almost feels like an elder telling this to his grandkids. That’s the feeling I got from it.
Some went a little too far. One example is when Frostpaw meets his father and the whole chapter (which are very short, by the way) is him explaining a long story in full detail. On top of it feeling unnatural, it went on for a while despite being an otherwise short chapter. I did appreciate the self-awareness of that by having Frostpaw sit during the tale. He knew this would go on for a while.
On top of that, the character names could have had more thought put into them. The deities are named Sumyr, Wintyr, Fell and Sprign. Obviously, named after seasons, but I felt it was a little too obvious. Also, the locations are simple as well. Icegard and Firehome are the main domains of the ice and fire lords, while Mistgard and Aesimir are important locations. Now, Blizzard is no stranger to naming characters after Norse mythology and even they can get a little lazy (seriously, Odyn?), but I felt these types of names could have been a little more creative. Not everything has to be “gard” or “heim” or end in “yr.”
Now, that’s the review of the story, but there’s one last thing I want to focus on. In addition to a story, this book has artwork. Lots of it. And all of it is amazing. He has made concept art for Blizzard, but he did an amazing job and really added to the imagery of the story. It showed me the kind of world this was, a frozen land torn by conflict. Even the cover is impressive, showing Frostpaw between Wintyr and Sumyr.
But that’s the story overall. Overall, unless you want to support a Blizzard dev, like me, I’d suggest this as a cautious recommendation. You’ll either love this or you won’t. But either way, I enjoyed it for what it was worth.
So that’s that. Next month, I’ll do a more recent story within the Sci-fi genre. I hope it’ll be a fun read. Remember, I do take requests if you want me to review something specific.
That’s all for today. Take care, and remember, the inn is always open.
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