The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy, #3)by Published 08 Jan 2019
|The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy, #3).pdf|
Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.
Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.
Advance praise for The Winter of the Witch
“Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy isn’t just good—it’s hug-to-your-chest, straight-to-the-favorites-shelf, reread-immediately good, and each book just gets better. The Winter of the Witch plunges us back to fourteenth-century Moscow, where old gods and new vie for the soul of Russia and fate rests on a witch girl’s slender shoulders. Prepare to have your heart ripped out, loaned back to you full of snow and magic, and ripped out some more.”—Laini Taylor
The Winter of the Witch (Winternight Trilogy, #3) Reviews
“Beware the forest,” she added, following Vasya to the door. “It does not take kindly to strangers.”
It's over 😔. But it was most definitely a beautiful and fitting ending.
I've owned this book since it released on January 8, but I've been reluctant to start it. Partly because it was the final book, and partly because I was worried it wouldn't be as good as I'd been hoping it would be. But Arden didn't let me down. This finale was every bit as gorgeous and magical as the first two books.
My reviews for this series are starting to feel repetitive at this point, but I absolutely have to talk about the atmosphere. For me, it's what makes this trilogy so wonderful. The Winter of the Witch follows its predecessors by being a book of quiet whispers and cold breezes. It's that timeless fairy tale quality that I love so much.
But don't get me wrong-- there's plenty of action, too. In fact, this book starts pretty much in the thick of it with Vasya being chased down by the followers of the nefarious priest Konstantin. With Medved causing havoc left and right, and Vasya venturing into beautifully-imagined supernatural realms, this could be the most action-packed book of the series.
One of the things I like most about these books - and this one in particular - is how much Vasya grows as a character. I think it is one of the most interesting and convincing character arcs I've ever read about. She ages and gains hard-earned wisdom so naturally over the course of the three novels, and I feel strangely like I've grown up with her after following her story for the last few years.
As always, the fantastical is weaved in with the historical. Much is based on real historical events - such as the rapidly approaching Battle of Kulikovo - but, of course, a lot has been embellished too. I'm at least fairly certain that the frost demon Morozko wasn't falling into a complicated romance with a woman called Vasya in 14th century Russia, more's the pity.
Also: apparently frost demons are sexy. Who knew?
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‘’Yesterday she saved your life, slew a wicked magician, set fire to Moscow and then saved it all in a single night. Do you think she will consent to disappear, for the price of a dowry- for any price? Do you know my sister?’’
It is seldom that the third book of a trilogy ends up being the finest. However, this is exactly what happened with The Winter of the Witch. The final installment of a saga created with absolute beauty and dark grace by Katherine Arden is one to remember and cherish, in a trilogy that defied all genres and labels, making its way to be a classic. I firmly believe that The Winternight Trilogy will keep company to generations of readers who will fall in love with the wealth of the Russian culture, the myths, the legends, the traditions.
‘’But she saw the devils, despite the dark. There were silhouetted atop roofs and walls: domoviye and dvorovije and banniki, the faint house-spirits of Moscow. They were there, but what could they do but watch? Chyerti are formed by the currants of human life; they ride them, but they do not interfere.’’
Three things are the ones that make the trilogy perfect: a supreme heroine, the exquisite descriptions of the Russian landscape and the theme of the never-ending battle between the old world and the new, the pagan beliefs and the Christian religion. All these elements are done to perfection in the 3rd book. As Vasya fights for survival, justice and balance, she undertakes a long journey to a harsh, mystical haunting realm. Arden’s writing is extraordinarily beautiful as we are wondering in the land of Midnight or the scorching Moscow summer. The scenery changes and changes and along with it Vasya is transformed. The glorious city, the realms of magic, everything is a part of a greater world and everything is a link in a chain that must not break because a dangerous foe is approaching, a horde that doesn’t care for the old and the new, desiring to establish its own dynasty.
Arden gives us princesses and princes, knights and priests. Wise women, artists, animals touched by magic. Demons and spirits of nature. The entire Russian folklore lives in the pages of the book and it never looked more beautiful, more mystical, more threatening. Marya Morevna, the Baba Yaga, the Firebird and the chyerti, the domovoi and the upyr in a particularly powerful, shocking chapter. Polunochnitsa and her dark domain, the Midday demon, the horses of legends, the women graced (or cursed) with the Sight. These are the pawns of the fight between the living and what they can’t see, the world they can’t believe in. The division that feeds their need to destroy what they fear because they are unable to understand.
‘’I am a witch’’, said Vasya. Blood was running down her hand now, spoiling her grip. ‘’I have plucked snowdrops at Midwinter, died at my own choosing, and wept for a nightingale. Now I am beyond prophecy.’’ She caught his knife on the crosspiece of hers, hilt to hilt. ‘’I have crossed three times nine realms to find you, my lord. And I find you at play, forgetful.’’
I cannot begin to tell you how much I adore the relationship between Vasya and Morozov and here their dynamic is more electrifying than ever. Is it strange and dark and possibly twisted? Well, it may be and this is exactly what makes me love them so much. They are my favourite literary couple, after Heathcliff and Catherine, and yes, I know I am weird. Vasya continues to remain one of my favourite female protagonists, not only because of her bravery and determination but mostly because Arden chose to make her as real as she could given the premise of the story. She doesn’t refrain from fear and insecurity and despair or even one or two questionable decisions and this is how you create a believable, relatable main character in a fantasy setting. Strange as it may sound, though, the character I was always anxious to meet in a chapter was Konstantin. He is desperate and lost and all sorts of confused and you cannot help but be hypnotized by his presence. His chemistry with Vasya is explosive.
So, I am sad to leave the Winternight universe. A trilogy created through haunting sceneries, an exceptional cast of characters, impeccable dialogue and endless respect to the immortal heritage of the Russian tradition, Katherine Arden, thank you for three marvelous journeys.
‘’Men fear what they do not understand’’, murmured the Bear. ‘’They hurt you. They beat you, spat on you, put you in the fire. Men will suck all the wilderness out of the world, until there is no place for a witch0girl to hide. They will burn you and your kind.’’
Many thanks to Penguin Random House UK and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.word...
ALL THE STARS AND MORE.
Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:
Medieval Russia comes to life in Katherine Arden’s WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY, which began in Lesnaya Zemlya, a small village in northern Rus’ in The Bear and the Nightingale and continued in The Girl in the Tower. Vasilisa (Vasya) is a young woman with the rare ability to see and speak with the natural spirits or chyerti of the hearth, stables, and lands and waters of Rus’. Vasya has gained the attention and respect of the winter-king Morozko, god of death, who has helped her along the way as she fought and bound the demonic Bear, traveled from Lesnaya Zemlya to Moscow, and undertook a dangerous masquerade as a boy while fighting to protect Moscow and her family from both an evil sorcerer and the Mongol invaders.
The Winter of the Witch begins in the aftermath of a huge fire that burned much of Moscow. The distraught people of Moscow are whipped into a rage by Vasya’s nemesis, the priest Konstantin, who blames Vasya for the fire (with some justice). Vasya is captured by a mob and nearly burned to death as a witch. Though she escapes, a tragic loss leaves her reeling, and now a terrible price has been paid on her behalf. The Bear is on the loose again, pulling Konstantin into his plans for war and chaos, and Morozko has disappeared into some hidden prison. The vast Tatar armies, the Golden Horde, are still on the move against Moscow, and Vasya has perilous journeys to make through magical midnight lands as she tries to save her country and the humans and spirits that she loves. Vasya has gained in personal strength and magical power from her beginnings in the village of Lesnaya Zemlya, but she still makes some serious mistakes along the way.
In the WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY, Arden has proved herself particularly adept at weaving together folklore and actual history. The Winter of the Witch focuses on the events leading up to the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380, but puts a fantastical spin on it. As the country lurches toward war, Vasya is guided into the midnight realm of Polunochnitsa, or Lady Midnight, where she meets not only one of her ancestors ― a famous Russian folklore character in her own right ― but the mythical firebird, Pozhar (whose other form is a golden mare), and a delightfully opinionated mushroom spirit that Vasya called Ded Grib (Grandfather Mushroom). Pozhar and Ded Grib represent the high and the lowly among the chyerti, whom Vasya is trying to protect along with the humans who inhabit Russia. Even Medved, the fearsome Bear who played such a terrifying role in The Bear and the Nightingale, becomes more understandable and sympathetic, or at least much more entertaining as a character. It’s a nice reminder that even villains have some positive characteristics.
He spoke of Russia. Not of Muscovy, or Tver, or Vladimir, the principalities of the sons of Kiev, but of Russia itself, of its skies and its soil, its people and its pride.The tensions between Christianity and the old pagan ways, humans vs. chyerti, are ultimately resolved in a way that I hadn’t expected, but that I found profoundly moving, and Arden’s writing style is entrancing. The Winter of the Witch is not just the coming-of-age story of a girl with magical powers, or a romance, though it has both of those elements; it deals with larger themes, like love of country, individual worth, self-sacrifice, and cooperation with those who are different. The WINTERNIGHT TRILOGY was a wonderful series from beginning to end, and I give it my highest recommendation.
She listened in rapt silence, eyes vast and filled like cups with shadow. “That is what we are fighting for,” said Sasha. “Not for Moscow, or even Dmitrii; not for the sake of any of her squabbling princes. But for the land that bore us, man and devil alike.”
I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley for review. Thank you so much!!
Initial update: Five stars! SO, so good!! Amazing wrap-up to this fantasy trilogy set in medieval Russia. I love how this weaves Russian folklore into actual history, and deals with larger themes, like love of country.
Plus it made me cry.
If you haven't read this trilogy yet, I highly recommend it!
Initial post: YES! I finally got the ARC of this last book in this trilogy (which began with The Bear and the Nightingale)!! Now can I keep my hands off it for a couple of weeks while I read a few other books in my urgent TBR pile? We'll see ...
Content notes: a fair amount of gritty violence and a non-explicit sex scene.
it has been said that those who do not believe in magic will never find it, and this book is physical proof that magic does exist.
every page, every word, every letter made its way into my heart, which began to beat in a steady and strong rhythm of “i believe, i believe, i believe.”
this story, this trilogy, has woven itself into the very fabric of soul and will forever be a part of me. a truly captivating tale that has made me fall in love with reading all over again.
and as i have come to the conclusion of this wonderful story, i have realised what a joy and privilege it is to have such magic in my life.
↠ 5 stars
She bent forward to breathe into his ear: "Never give me orders."Moscow is beset with danger and Vasya has only made it worse.
"Command me, then," he whispered back. The words went through her like wine.
Her betrayal of the crown prince is still rocking the country, and there are many waiting in the wings to take advantage.
And yet, in many ways, her life has become so much more than what it was.
“I am a witch,” said Vasya. Blood was running down her hand now, spoiling her grip. “I have plucked snowdrops at Midwinter, died at my own choosing, and wept for a nightingale. Now I am beyond prophecy.”The Grand Prince - through his rage - has been manipulated onto a path that surely would bring the end to an era.
A demon who delights in chaos has set his sights on Vasya's beloved Moscow.
Magic makes men mad. They forget what is real because too much is possible.A priest whose beautiful exterior hides a rotten core has almost completed his vendetta against Vasya.
And Vasya - the obstinate headstrong girl - must balance the two worlds.
The Modern Era and the Old World are crashing into each other and it appears as if only one will survive.
Will Vasya save her human family or the wondrous (and terrifying) Russian spirits? Will she even be able to save herself?
A truly satisfying end to a splendid series.
I am just in love with the beauty of this series. So many times I would reread passages to experience the joy, excitement and wonder.
I especially loved Vasya's development throughout the series. Maybe it's just me, but I've gotten used to the "YA-heroine development" aka we start off meek and mild...then 2.5 chapters later the main character becomes a complete badass.
I loved how Vasya has always had that underlying spunk, but that has changed from a little spark to an inferno to a comfortable fireplace.
The way her character changed throughout the books was so well done - I cannot remember when the changes happened, only that the girl we started the series with is certainly not the same one we have at the end.
Also, as a side note, I am really feeling the magic in the series. It has an ethereal quality to it that I really can't put my finger on.
Magic is forgetting the world was ever other than as you willed it.I like how the magic system was never completely laid out - it's mysterious and unpredictable - and it worked perfectly in Arden's world.
I loved all of the little spirits - especially the ornery little mushroom spirit Vasya befriends.
The mushroom-spirit was suddenly fierce. "He is not to kick over any of my mushrooms."And the plot! It's hard to explain the feeling I get when I read one of these books but the best way I could describe it is...this is a not a story but a journey.
"That depends," said the Bear pointedly. "If my brave mistress does not give me something better to do than run to and fro in the dark, I will happily kick over all your mushrooms.”