Embark on an enchanting journey into high fantasy as we delve deep into the magical tapestry woven by Ed McDonald in his latest masterpiece, “Daughter of Redwinter.” In a world where magic intertwines with mystery, every page unfolds a new layer of intrigue.
In this immersive tale, McDonald showcases his unparalleled storytelling prowess, crafting a narrative that seamlessly blends the ethereal with the extraordinary. As we navigate the intricate landscapes of “Daughter of Redwinter,” the essence of high fantasy comes to life, captivating readers with its rich lore, compelling characters, and a narrative that dances on the delicate edge between reality and the fantastical.
Join us on this literary adventure as we uncover the secrets behind the creation of this mesmerizing epic and explore the depths of imagination with one of the genre’s most gifted authors. But first, we go behind the scenes with a quick author interview from the creator of Daughter of Redwinter himself.
Let’s dive in.
Title: Daughter of Redwinter (Redwinter Chronicles 1)
Author: Ed McDonald
High Fantasy, Sapphic romance, Adult Fantasy
Those who see the dead soon join them.
Interview with Ed McDonald
- The world of the Redwinter Chronicles is incredibly immersive and detailed. Can you share some of the lesser-known aspects of your world-building that readers might not be aware of but that you find particularly fascinating?
This is a difficult one because almost everything that exists in world-building can be read in the books, so I prefer readers to form their own opinions as they go along. However, I can mention that readers who have an interest in Scottish folklore may find a number of the names I use familiar. The word “Draoihn” is a bastardized form of “Draoidh,” from Scottish Gaelic (meaning magician), while I used the name “Ciuthach” for a demonic, undead creature. Ciuthach takes multiple forms in Gaelic folklore. There are lots of these little references throughout the book.
- The Redwinter Chronicles have a distinct tone and atmosphere. How do you maintain this consistency in tone and mood across different books in the series?
I think that for a first-person narrative, tone is largely brought about by the narrating character’s voice. As long as the character is consistent, and their emotional state doesn’t fluctuate wildly all the time, the reader should feel it’s a stable narrative.
- Are there any cultural, historical, or mythological influences that have subtly shaped the world or characters in your books, even if they may not be immediately evident to readers?
Ah, as I mentioned earlier, the whole series has a strong medieval-Scottish vibe. You’ll find heather-covered moorland, misty lochs, snowy mountains, and lots of very bad weather. The political system is based on clan leadership, and I cleverly (so very
cleverly!) disguised the prefix “Mac” as “Lac,” so we have clans named LacCLune, LacNaithe, and so on. There may be a haggis or two somewhere in the series as well.
- As the author of the Redwinter Chronicles, you’ve had the opportunity to delve deeply into your characters’ lives. Could you reveal a character’s backstory or a hidden detail that you are privy to but hasn’t been explicitly mentioned in the books?
For me, everything that exists for the characters exists in the pages. I wouldn’t ever create additional canon details that aren’t found in the books. One thing I could mention though is that Raine’s mother, who can’t walk without pain after Raine is born, is suffering from Pelvic Girdle Pain, which is not uncommon for women following pregnancy. This is never explicitly stated, as nobody knows what that means in Raine’s world.
It’s getting good…
- If “Daughter of Redwinter” and “Traitor of Redwinter” were to undergo adaptation into a different medium such as a graphic novel or a video game in an alternate reality, what artists or developers would comprise your dream team for the project? What aspects of the adaptation would you be most thrilled to witness come to life?
A video game would be amazing. I think right now the team behind Baldur’s Gate 3 (Larian Studios) has created the game of the decade and they’d be anyone’s first choice for
”Being kind, supportive and thoughtful are the minimum level of expectation we should have for anybody.”
- The character relationships and dynamics are a driving force in your books. Can you share an unexpected or surprising character relationship that emerged as you were writing and that you found especially compelling?
Readers of Traitor of Redwinter will find a highly unusual relationship that develops between Raine and Castus LacClune. Castus was originally written to be a demonstration of how
power corrupts, but as I wrote him he gained new dimensions. Rather than an abuser of his power, I ended up writing him to be a man who was suffering, and since Raine
is always suffering one way or another, it was natural that they be drawn to one another for comfort.
I didn’t know that Castus was gay until I wrote his first scene, but I knew before writing him at all that he wasn’t ever going to feel romantically towards Raine. He tells her straight up, uncaring of consequences because he’s too powerful to care what others think (or at least wants to portray that), and this not only fits him perfectly but explains a lot to me about who he is and why.
Similarly, Raine’s sexuality only became clear to me when she encountered a particular character in the first book. Redwinter is the story of Raine’s self-discovery, so in a way, I found out alongside her.
- The Redwinter Chronicles often blur the line between good and evil. Can you discuss how you approach creating morally complex characters and situations? And whether there’s a character who challenges your perception of right and wrong.
I believe that there are very few people who think they are in the wrong at almost any time. For me, the key to writing those shades of grey is to focus on what the character believes about
themselves, who they are, where they fit in, and what they deserve. The more empathetic a character is, the more they veer toward our view of “good.” The more judgmental and self-serving, the more they shift towards “evil.” Everyone can be kind to others when it serves them, and everyone is callous when the right emotions engage. Grandmaster Robilar is one of my favorites. You couldn’t call her “Good,” and mostly she seems to be working her own agenda, but I love her.
- The Redwinter Chronicles brim with dark and visceral action moments. Can you describe a particular scene that was particularly challenging to write because of its emotional intensity or complexity?
The hardest scenes to write for me are never action, that comes very easily to me. It’s much harder to get the right level of emotional depth in the subtler scenes. In Daughter, when Raine takes a bath, for instance, that took about three or four goes and feedback from my partner to get it right. Also, writing a character who has lost their empathy – but still keeping the reader rooting for them! – wasn’t easy. In Traitor, Raine’s mental state slowly changes. Showing that piece by piece across an entire book is the real challenge.
- You’ve gained recognition for crafting intricate and action-packed scenes.. Can you reveal any techniques or methods you employ to create tension and excitement in your storytelling?
When it comes to action, I always say “Stakes are what matter.” That tends to all come before the action. Investing in the characters should naturally lead to a genuine concern for their fate. Compelling you to engage when challenges arise and action becomes necessary. For the action itself, keeping things tight and brief is good. But there should be no fight scenes that don’t cost somebody we care about something.
Even when they win, there’s a cost. Psychologically sometimes, an ally is wounded, and a goal can no longer be achieved. Nobody escapes unscathed. Action should always bring us deeper towards doom, not away from it. Until the finale, I can guarantee that by the time we get to the end of a book. Everyone is on their last legs.
Review of Daughter of Redwinter
Ed McDonald unleashes an exhilarating epic fantasy, “Daughter of Redwinter,” teeming with peril, excitement, and suspense. The inaugural chapter of the Redwinter Chronicles thrusts readers into a meticulously crafted world with Raine at the focus.
Raine is endowed with the ability to speak to the dead. She faces constant jeopardy as her unique skill bears a deadly consequence if exposed. Estranged from a mother who is beyond unsupportive, she aligns herself with a cult, reshaping her destiny through a singular act of benevolence.
Raine is an interesting character who feels human. Holding lots of flaws and trauma in her past, while remaining to stay relatable.
After a profound moment, Raine’s compassion then triggers a sequence of events. Propelling an injured woman to flee Redwinter, the fortress of the Draoihn, a faction of warrior magicians intent on reclaiming stolen artifacts.
While still dealing with her mother (and all the stresses that go along with it), Raine seizes an opportunity to join a group led by three sooth-sisters, plunging into unforeseen complications. Power calls to Raine, along with the thirst to conquer fear and attain genuine freedom, Raine grapples with the repercussions of her choices and challenges her desires.
When Raine emerges she holds as a compelling protagonist, navigating the intricacies of morality and self-discovery. While also having dynamic growth and transformation. While supporting characters lack Raine’s dynamism, they inject vibrancy into the narrative, either fortifying or challenging her journey. A nice edition is a comprehensive list of characters and descriptions of the world. Providing additional context for the story. Although it should have been placed at the page’s start.
”Honestly,” I said, “I’m tired of old men telling me what I’ve done wrong.”
The narrative invests time in character introductions, backstories, and world-building, characteristic of the first book in an expansive series. However, the main character’s introspection occasionally slows the pacing. Bookending the story, action scenes punctuate the narrative, though the middle section could benefit from heightened impact. As characters are unveiled, the plot unfolds beyond a mere artifact theft, weaving together themes of grief, empathy, domestic abuse, community, murder, magic, death, ghosts, fear, duty, honor, secrets, greed, friendship, and politics.
In summary, “Daughter of Redwinter” captivates and provokes thought in this fantasy narrative. High stakes, coupled with smooth writing, transform the tale into an engaging page-turner. A first exploration into this author’s work, I am curious to see what the sequel holds.
Thank you so much to Tor Books for a gifted copy of both Daughter of Redwinter and Traitor of Redwinter in order to review.
Daughter of Redwinter is perfect for fans of:
morally grey characters who make lots of bad decisions.
a protagonist whose curse allows her to speak to the dead.
lush worldbuilding that will have you gasping it’s so good.
bloody fighting and death