The Fae prison of Crere Sulace is an ancient and dark place, offering no hope to the prisoners it holds, most held for their lifetime among the spellturned towers that were once the home to nobility. Among the prisoners is Mauritaine, a once decorated military leader now convicted of treason and sentenced to life. Now in the heart of Midwinter, an old enemy comes with an offer from the Seelie Queen. If Mauritaine completes the mysterious mission she requires, he and his companions will earn their freedom.
On this seemingly suicide mission Mautiaine is allowed to choose from the other prisoners those who will accompany him to his appointed rendezvous. Not long out and they run into a mob of locals eager to apprehend the apparent escaped prisoners. From there things only get worse, eventually leading them into the contested lands, a place ravaged by the magic of earlier wars and now unstable. On top of this, Mauritaine is not sure what he is supposed to be finding for the queen, only that he is to make it to his destination before time runs out. And Queen Mab, the leader of the Unseelie people, is planning to attack.
My first instinct was to put down Midwinter after the first chapter. It just didn't immediately grab my attention. The characters seemed a little too predictable-- a fallen military hero, a feisty woman with a troubled past, a scheming nobleman. There are several memorable pieces of this novel though. The contested lands is an interesting idea that I wish played a bigger part in the story, as is the flying city of Queen Mab with it's secret cache of religious Arcadians. But these elements don't meld very well into a smooth story. I'm still not really sure how Mauritaine realized what it was the queen had sent him to find.
All in all, Midwinter by Matthew Sturges is a well written novel, yet I'm left feeling that there's something missing. I'd be interested in seeing future novels by Matthew Sturges, but I can't count Midwinter among my favorites.
Midwinter by Matthew Sturges
Printed by Pyr
Midwinter by Matthew Sturges is available at Amazon.com
Pyr Publishing provided me with a free review copy of Midwinter