Cold Counsel – Chris Sharp

Synopsis: Slud of the Blood Claw Clan, Bringer of Troubles, was born at the heart of the worst storm the mountain had ever seen. Slud’s father, chief of the clan, was changed by his son’s presence. For the first time since the age of the giants, he rallied the remaining trolls under one banner and marched to war taking back the mountain from the goblin clans.

However, the long-lived elves remembered the brutal wars of the last age, and did not welcome the return of these lesser-giants to martial power. Twenty thousand elves marched on the mountain intent on genocide. They eradicated the entire troll species—save two.

Aunt Agnes, an old witch from the Iron Wood, carried Slud away before the elves could find them. Their existence remained hidden for decades, and in that time, Agnes molded Slud to become her instrument of revenge.

For cold is the counsel of women.

“The spirits of the air had been left to their own devices, but the flames continued a slowed advance along the ridge. The ground was still hot below Agnes’s feet. A crust of char covered the earth in the fire’s wake, and the dense, towering woods had been turned to a spotty field of blackened spikes. The air was heavy with smoke, and with every breath, Agnes sucked more of it into her lungs, inhaling the essence of the trees she’d destroyed. All of the forest’s anger and sadness was hers to taste, but the smoke was murder on her voice–reduced now to a husky whisper.”

Cold Counsel felt like a throwback epic fantasy, but with a troll as the main protagonist. A modern old school tale, if you will.

Slud “Bringer of Troubles” was born to the chief of the legendary Blood Claw Clan. His father, inspired by Slud, decides that he wants to unite the trolls against the other races. This results in a bloody battle, with the trolls ending up on the losing end. In fact, Slud is the sole survivor. He was saved by his “Aunt” Agnes, a witch. She raises him in secret & guides him, training him to be a glorious killing machine.

I was sold on a story told from the troll’s POV. Plus that radical cover! This has sat on my shelf for far too long, so I decided I wanted to read it during the holidays because it is relatively short & it’s also a standalone. A rarity in fantasy!!

This had trolls, elves, witches, goblins & magic.. oh my!

Unfortunately, I feel like this is a book you read in a few big chunks, rather than pick up for 15 minutes here & there like I did. I just couldn’t get invested in the story because I wasn’t with it long enough. The writing didn’t ignite any sort of spark within me. I also felt a disconnect with the characters. They were never quite developed fully. It’s not a bad book, it just didn’t blow me away. I liked it enough, but it was a bland Caesar salad when I wanted a plate of nachos. Delicious, sexy nachos loaded with jalapeños rammed into my face. Mmm.





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