The Winter King

Narrated by: Heather Wilds
Series: Mystral, Book 1
Length: 21 hrs and 18 mins
Categories: Romance, Fantasy
4.5 out of 5 stars (458 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An epic new fantasy romance from New York Times and USA Today best-selling author C. L. Wilson.

After three long years of war, starkly handsome Wynter Atrialan will have his vengeance on Summerlea's king by taking one of the man's beautiful, beloved daughters as his bride. But though peace is finally at hand, Wynter's battle with the Ice Heart, the dread power he embraced to avenge his brother's death, rages on.

Khamsin Coruscate, Princess of Summerlea and summoner of Storms, has spent her life exiled to the shadows of her father's palace. Reviled by her father, marriage to Wintercraig's icy king was supposed to be a terrible punishment, but instead offers Kham her first taste of freedom - and her first taste of overwhelming passion.

As fierce, indomitable Wynter weathers even Khamsin's wildest storms, surprising her with a tenderness she never expected, Kham wants more than Wynter's passion - she yearns for his love. But the power of the Ice Heart is growing, dangerous forces are gathering, and a devastating betrayal puts Khamsin and Wynter to the ultimate test.

©2014 C.L. Wilson (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers

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    4 out of 5 stars

Good until the end

SPOILERS - the ending enraged me. Wynter becomes the Ice King because he NEVER???? Learns to trust????? His wife?????? Legit the entire book he and his buddies doubt her saying that she could be a spy and they have her followed etc etc i get it. But even to the very end it just takes that one bitch to suggest that Khamsen is a traitor and he goes all Ice King AND THEN EVEN WHEN SHE FUCKIN BRINGS HIM BACK ON THE BATTLE FIELD HE DOESNT BELIEVE HER FULLY??????????? WHY?????????? You can’t love without trust and he never learned to trust her and it made me so mad. It ruined an otherwise great book. Even though I loved everything, the last thirty minutes had me fuming.

8 people found this helpful

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A DELICIOUS FANTASTICAL FAIRYTALE FOR ADULTS

I loved C L Wilson's Tairen Soul series so I knew that she had a gift when it comes to creating magical worlds, fantastical complex plots and romantic stories and she didn't let me down with this, her new Mystral series of standalone books which are about the lands of the Weathermages.

This is about two of those magical lands... Summerlea and Wintercraig and the treachery that resulted in murder, revenge, hatred, betrayal and destruction and 3 years of War that was forced upon them. And because of all that there is a powerful treaty brutally imposed upon a strong, feisty and fierce Heroine (Princess Khamsin) and a demanding, cold, bitter, and tortured Hero (King Wynter). However, neither one expected the attraction, the lust, the powerful passion, the soul connection and the strong deep love that eventually emerged. But there's so so much more to this plot too and I won't spoil this enchanting and enjoyable story for you.

An action-packed exciting story full of suspense, mystery, interesting secondary characters, challenges, battles, betrayal, fantastical creatures, imaginative world-building imagery, a passionate sizzling chemistry, sex and a slow to ignite love story.

Worth the credit? If you're a fan of fantasy love stories that will capture your imagination and carry you off to mythical magical lands then this is a must for you (as it was for me) and YES, when you're in the mood for a FAIRYTALE, it doesn't come better than this very creditworthy listen.

21 people found this helpful

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Absolutely wonderful story!

I listened to all the Tairen Soul books and enjoyed them immensely. Like a lot of people I kept putting off The Winter King because the cover was so lame. But, I do like a long book and I just couldn't pass up 21 hours of a C. L. Wilson story and am so glad I finally spent that credit, I really loved every element of book. l finished it in 2 days (and most of one night :o). It has suspense, adventure, well drawn characters, excellent plot, and a perfect hero and heroine, not to mention Ms. Wilson can write some dame fine love scenes, and she's not stingy with them either. I will definitely read this book again and can't wait to follow it with the next book in the Weathermages series, The Sea King, which comes out at the end of this month. We met the Sea King at the end of the book and I believe he may give Winter a run for his money as quite the sexy hero. So forget the dumb cover and enjoy!

6 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Don't judge a book by its cover

I over looked this book many times because of its cover but finally out of share desperation I purchased it and was pleasantly surprised. This book is one of the best I have read rather listened to in a long time. It has a strong storyline and the performance was excellent. Look past the cover and give this book a try.

2 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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I really wanted to enjoy this...

I'll start by saying I read a LOT of stories, but almost never write reviews. I'm a very picky reader, and as it is so very rarely that I find a story so well crafted that I am left with no complaints, I try to be generous with my ratings. Basically, if I can finish a story without getting to distracted by any potential inadequacies, I'll give it 4 stars as a general rule. I reserve 3 star ratings for stories that I consider not finishing at multiple point but manage to finish regardless, and 1-2 starts for those that I want to just hurl across the room in frustration and demand a full refund (which I often do).

That being said, I really, Really, REALLY, wanted to like this story; truly. So much so that, even though I first started feeling annoyed well before the halfway point, I stuck with it. All the way to the end. Every, last, excruciating hour; all twenty plus of them. I kept hoping it would get better, that the points of frustration would smooth out and be overshadowed by good development, but it never came. I'll keep my complaints as non specific as possible, but there may be spoilers.

The first problem with the story is the unending repetitive use of blind mistrust as the only driving force of conflict. The main characters don't trust each other, continuously and repeatedly. And its not just that the main characters don't trust each other, they actively refuse to try, to the point it feels artificially forced, just to keep the drama going. The entire story is built upon this, and it gets old real fast because its becomes simple and predictable. There is no character development, no working through or overcoming this flaw. It could have been a wonderful point of growth, two individuals who have a hard time trusting as a result of past experiences, finally overcoming their blind mistrust at a crucial, climactic moment. Sadly, however, this is not the case. The lack of trust lasts right up to the end, and there is nothing shown that would lead the reader to believe it wouldn't continue past the end of the story.

Another fault of the story is the Male MC. To put it bluntly, there is nothing likable, relatable, or redeeming about his character. Not that I expect characters to be perfect; far from it. Character development is a vital part of any story. My issue is that there is none. He is arrogant, stubborn, inconsiderate, and obtuse, and remains so throughout the entire story. There is very little time spent getting to understand him as a character, and overall very little desire to see him triumph. I would even go as far to say the same for most of the characters, as they are all generally dis-likable. In addition, there is nothing about him for the Female MC to eventually fall in love with, leaving the overall romance feeling empty and forced. Sure, he is kind to her (some of the time) and dose show gentleness to her (when he's not acting like a chauvinist jerk, ie. "I am your husband, you will obey me"). Truly, in the end the romance is little more than a girl with daddy issues falling "in love" with the first man to show her attention (really, I am not exaggerating or over simplifying).

And while on the subject of romance, I feel confident in saying this story has none. Is there a marriage? Yes, and quite early on. Is there sex? Sure, and quite a lot of it, though not often actively or explicitly described. But is there any romantic development between the two characters? No. Through the better half of the time after they meet and are married, the two barely even interact with one another. Basically (and I will try to be a vague as possible to avoid spoiling anything) the king needs an heir, and she has one year to make it happen, or he will find someone else. No love, just business. Sure, the lovemaking is supposedly the best ever since the dawn of time, leaving no real complaints from either party, yet still its a relationship founded upon the baby making practicality of breeding and animistic pleasure. Eventually this turns to love, but not until the literal end of the story and without any substantial development beyond the writer saying so.

Now, I could have probably overlooked the above mentioned issues, even the seemingly never ending theme of mistrust. What I couldn't ignore, however, and what I can easily say is my biggest complaint, is the fact that the ending solution was predictable, obvious, and yet somehow completely overlooked by every single character. ***SPOILER WARNING*** So, here is the underlying problem; the Male MC has obtained a deadly power that will eventually corrupt his soul. The only thing that can stop this is love; specifically, he needs someone that he can love. He has no living family, and while able to slow the progression, love for his friends is not enough. But there is one possible solution; get married and father a child, and hopefully his love for said child will save him. A solid plan, really, but here is my problem; why doesn't it occur to ANYONE that maybe, just maybe, the love for and of his WIFE could do the same? It is pointed out fairly early that he may not even last long enough for a child to be born, and yet no one seems to realize that there is a second solution RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM! I'm sorry, but I cannot stand when writers use blatant, forced stupidity on the part of the characters to drive the plot where they want. It's sloppy, lazy, and frustrating. And it's not even as if one character tried to point this solution out and was met with resistance from others. No. Apparently the idea of a husband and wife coming to love one another is such an alien notion to these people no one even thought of it.

3 people found this helpful

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This One Will "Melt" Your Heart

Looking for an epic, high-fantasy romance? Then look no further than The Winter King. C.L. Wilson delivers a triumphant story full of romance, adventure, magic, epic battles, court intrigue, and brilliantly deep characters abound with flaws, courage, and one heck of a heroine.

Khamsin (with all her other names to boot) Coruscate, is a heroine that shames all other heroines. She is the scrappy underdog with a heart of gold. In the wake of a horrible upbringing and the prospect of a loveless marriage, she lays all her cards on the table and plays them like a survivor — expertly and with the cunning and skill of a woman who makes the best of whatever situation she is thrown into. All of her motivations and actions are believable — all of her heartaches, her failures, her triumphs are expertly crafted to make the reader (or listener) root for the outcast who was never loved by anyone. She is a fiercely strong and independent woman who happens to find love along the way. And her weather mage magic is hella cool. Like most romantic troupes, it would have been so easy to make Khamsin a damsel in distress, but every time she seems to fall into that troupe, she shows — with shining colors — that she is most definitely not that type of heroin. Khamsin is a truly engaging character and certainly made the pages (or for those audio listeners) the hours fly.

The premise is fairly simple, but one starts to see the varied layers that Wilson intertwines more and more with each chapter:

Wynter Atrialan (The Winter King) has sought revenge after his beloved brother was murdered and his fiancée was stolen from him many years ago by a royal member of the Summerlea kingdom. With the aid of an ancient magical weapon, his own resolve, and his ice weather gift — Wynter and his armies have finally succeeded in quelling the Summerlanders to their will. In the guise of peace, Wynter exacts the perfect revenge. He demands the king of Summerlea part with one of his beloved daughters — to make her Wynter’s bride, a replacement for the fiancée he lost, and to bear him an heir, the heir he never got the chance to sire. Anyone of the daughters will do; or so Wynter thinks. Thus, begins the turbulent love affair between the cold, unfeeling King and the feisty, unloved daughter who just might be the one to melt Wynter’s “ice heart”.

At first, Wynter appears no more than a revenge-obsessed brute, but over time, as more and more is revealed about him and how he came to be the man he is today, and more is uncovered about his “ice heart” he starts to become a more fleshed out character, with intrigue and depth.

This is by far one of the best “forced-to-marry” plots I have ever had the joy of reading/listening to. A lot of the time, these sorts of plots fall flat because the circumstances revolving around the “forced marriage” are contrived or weak, and the love between the two leads is not believable. Wilson delivers a very realistic romance from two people who have entered into a forced marriage. The motivations and actions of both leads in the earlier part of the romance are true to being thrust into that sort of situation — desperate to survive at any cost, mistrust, honor, duty, lust. When they are first married, each character knows they are playing a part, and plays it for the sake of their people, their own interests, their only method of surviving, etc., so that when the two leads spend more and more time with each other, see each other’s faults and strengths, we as readers/listeners can see how a foundation of love is eventually built into something fortifying and enduring by novel’s end.

I had reviewed another novel with a similar premise a while back, but that novel failed to show the culture clash that might occur when two people from completely different walks of life are forced to join as one, whereas this one succeeded brilliantly to paint a realistic story of such a marriage. I felt Wilson did a wonderful job of showcasing just how much a fish-out-of-water Khamsin is when she first arrives in Wynter’s kingdom. A fact that alienates her in an unknown world she must somehow make her home. She must navigate a kingdom that outright mistrusts her, tolerates her, and doesn’t know what to think of her, all-the-while, she must be the perfect face of the Queen married to their King, in a marriage she is not even certain where she stands. Wynter starts off with very singular goals, exact his revenge and sow an heir — in the hopes of saving himself from his own ice-cold heart, only to find he got much more than he bargained for in the beguiling and wild Khamsin Coruscate.

Besides the novel’s two phenomenal leads (Khamsin edging Wynter out just a smidge), the book is also filled with many wonderfully rounded side characters (good and bad) with their own motivations, faults, and triumphs. They help to paint an already well-thought out and colorful world, expertly penned by Wilson. I had never head of C.L. Wilson before randomly stumbling across this novel, but I am now an instant fan. I think I got a promotion from Amazon that offered “buy one, get one free”. I was looking for a fantasy romance to fit the bill and somehow The Winter King popped up on my recommendations list. Thank you, Amazon. So, if you love an immersive world of magic, kings, knights, fantastical creatures filled with romance, look no further, you have found it in C.L. Wilson’s The Winter King. I am greatly looking forward to diving into the sequel to this series and her Tairen Soul series!

Audio Performance: This was excellent. Heather Wilds did a masterful job of bringing this world and these characters to life. She did a great job of delivering nuanced performances for each character to make you feel even more immersed in this large cast of characters. As far as audio performances go, she gets an A+ in my book. You’ll be in the last chapter before you know it because Wilds does such a great job of pulling you in.

Another reviewer found her annoying and monotonous, but I did not. So, give it a listen and judge for yourself. I will say, at first listening to the audio sample, I was not immediately pulled in by her voice, but as I listened more and more, I found her narration to be very good. Is she my favorite audio reader ever, no, but I would rank her among the audio readers that are great to listen to. If you really want to hear an annoying reader, Quiana Goodrum was a chore to listen to, and I only got a few minutes in with one of her reads.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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too drawn out

one betrayal makes an amazing story. two could be good, ten ruins the experience. every part of the book draws out too long and the betrayals and double crosses went from enjoyable to dreadful after so many. I started off loving the book, but the last third I had to push through because the gimkick of twists was not enjoyable anymore.

1 person found this helpful

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CHARMING

Would you consider the audio edition of The Winter King to be better than the print version?

I think the áudio version brings us closer to the story on a way different from the printed version. In the audio version, the story is perceived through the narrator's eyes, how he imagines each character would react. In the printed version, the imagination is up to the reader. The two versions presente us with different emotions, However, both are excellent.

What other book might you compare The Winter King to and why?

I'd dare to compare to "Dragon Rose" by Christine Pope.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No.

Any additional comments?

This book is a lovely novel, very well structuredand because this.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant

This book is brilliant it takes two very different seeming people and smashes them together, only to find out that they are actually very simular. The plot is fast paced with action and humor, so you will find yourself enchanted by the characters in this book.

1 person found this helpful

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A very original and enjoyable read!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Winter King to be better than the print version?

I have only listened to the Audio version but I believe I would enjoy both.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Winter King?

Listening to the Winter King and his new Wife fall in love with each other after not knowing each other or wanting to get married at all.

What does Heather Wilds bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She brings emotion to her voice and makes the story come alive.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Forced into Love is still Love.

Any additional comments?

I really enjoyed listening to this story!. I received this book for free from Audiobook Boom in exchange for a unbiased review. Thankyou!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Annie A
  • 04-30-19

Amazing!!!

Absolutely loved this book - characters were unreal - this will be one of my re-listens for sure! Narrator was so good - great changes in voices. Definitely worth a credit or a purchase! Right up there with Ilona Andrews! 👍

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-20-18

Wonderful fantasy romance!

CL Wilson does it again with a sweeping fantasy romance. I loved the narrator which brought another dimension to the story.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Book lover
  • 05-26-15

Overall good but way too many 'dilemmas'

I liked the premise of the book. The adventure was good and Wilson obviously puts a lot of effort into building the world that this is set in. On the whole I liked the character and their motivations.
However, there are way too many dilemmas and problems that crop up, as well as this, there are so many enemies, I think about 4/5, which means that the story tended to drag while these problems were being dealt with. I found myself having to stop listening for a while and build up to listening because there were so many incidents where Winters distrust of Camsyn essentially gets the better of him- these were frustrating and actually a little boring. If Wilson had concentrated on one or two enemies and cut out some of these sub plots then it would have been really good. Having said that, it was entertaining and I would recommend it.

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  • lillico
  • 07-31-15

Frustrating

I would have liked to give this book 5 stars, but the performance was painful to listen to, so Much of the time! I found it very stilted at times, with stress on wrong words so often that it really grated, detracting from the interesting story. At times it was narrated beautifully, the diction was clear, but too often it became sing song, using the same musical notes repeated in the same order over & over. Accents for different characters were not always consistent.
The story itself was quite interesting, covering a mythical world set presumably in Medieval times, in somewhere similar to Europe.
The main Royal characters have mystical powers, there are vengeful Gods, war, love, treachery, caring, betrayal. Twists and turns everywhere, with a predictable ending.
I think this is a book that, for me, would have been better read.
A different narrator would have made it a much better listen, I feel.