Torin Ten-Tree’s debt of service as a trollhunter in Gatewatch has been paid. Now he must decide whether to return home to take up his father’s seat in Ten-Tree Hall or to become a Greycloak of Gatewatch along with Grimsa and Wyla. Torin grapples with an unexpected revelation, the long-hidden identity of his mother, just as a delegation brings urgent news of King Araldof Greyraven’s grave and sudden illness. Heirless, the Greyraven’s death would plunge the land into chaos as the Jarls of Noros entered a struggle of succession. The last desperate hope to keep the realm from wreck and ruin is the legend of a powerful source of healing, the Everspring. Yet, greater questions and graver answers await Torin and his company on the road north through the land of the immortal giants. As long-forgotten secrets are unveiled, they learn not only the cause of the Greyraven’s illness but the insidious origins of the evil that first spawned the trolls in the wild woods beyond Gatewatch.
I was given a digital advanced review copy of The Everspring in exchange for an honest review. Thank you very much to Joshua Gillingham and Crowsnest Books!
The Everspring is the sequel to The Gatewatch which I reviewed here. It tells the story of an adventure which begins two years after the end of The Gatewatch. Our heroes from the first book, Torin Ten-Trees, Grimsa Jarnskald and Wyla White-Blaze have completed their obligations as troll hunters to the Gatewatch and are offered permanent positions as Greycloaks. Torin feels obliged to return to his father’s hall and so turns down the cloak but the other two eagerly accept. At this point a new adventure presents itself to Torin in the form of a quest to find The Everspring, a fount of youth and health which is the only way to cure their King Araldof Greyraven of a deadly illness he is suffering from. Despite his decision to return to his father’s hall, Torin accepts this new challenge and Wyla, Grimsa, the nidavel (dwarf) Bari and two members of the foreign delegation who brought news of the King’s sickness, Prince Azal and his magic-wielding Loremaster, Aldrin form the company for the quest, because:
No one refuses the Greyraven.
As with The Gatewatch what follows is an amazing adventure filled with fun riddles, songs, lore, trolls, frost giants, a mysterious green-cloaked lady, barrow wights (including one which speaks only in rhyme) and so much more. The relationships between the main characters are wholesome and heart-warming and I loved spending more time with them.
Wyla is still feisty and brave, Torin is a natural leader with a stout heart and Grimsa is a gentle giant as loyal as they come. Bari is a useful member of their company since their map is written in nidavellish. Aldrin is a magic user despite repeatedly insisting that he is NOT a wizard and Azal is in search of experience and adventure to liven up his royal existence.
The fantastic maps included at the beginning of the book are beautifully drawn and came in very useful as the company made their way through Noros towards the fabled Everspring in the Northern Lands.
I loved the layers of rich storytelling brought to this book by the tales interwoven with the main story of Torin and company – the lay of Beoric and Fyra and then later the story of Lysa and Fyra the twin huldur, or forest spirits, told to Torin by the King under the Mountain, Thrudnir the frost giant. Adding to the wonderful warm tone of storytelling are the riddles, as Torin once again battles for his and his friends’ lives using skill with words.
The author has a wonderful way with words and his descriptions are fabulous, as can be seen in his description of the troll:
The lone soldier struggled to his feet and clutched his arm. The troll stepped closer with a ravenous gleam in its bulbous eyes. Even from across the river, they could hear all the creature’s awful chuckle, phlegmy gargling spasms which jiggled its grey jowls.
And equally, of the ancient frost giant, Gerd The Old:
When he looked up, Torin found himself staring straight into the eyes of the ugliest creature he had ever seen. It had wild hair of wispy white strands that fell too far to one side and a pointed chin that had sprouted a forest of curly hairs. Its wrinkled cheeks sagged under two sunken eyes and the loose translucent skin of its ancient forehead slumped down over two bushy eyebrows. It grinned to unveil two rows of crooked yellow teeth, some of which came to sharp points and others that had been worn down into little more flattened stumps.
I would recommend this book to all fans of the fantasy quest undertaken by a group of stout-hearted heroes, fans of riddles and rich storytelling. It is suitable for a YA audience as well as adult.
About the Author
Joshua Gillingham is a Canadian author from Nanaimo, BC. There he enjoys life with his adventurous spouse and their two very unadventurous cats. The Gatewatch was born of his unremitted fascination with Norse Myths and Icelandic Sagas. His lyrical maritime ballad The Queen of the Rose Marie was selected for the Short Story Dispenser Project hosted by Short Édition and his award-winning essay Becoming a Resilient Writer has been featured on several sites for aspiring writers. When he is not hunched over his laptop sipping coffee and tapping frantically at the keyboard, Joshua performs Irish and Maritime music with The Ugly Mugs and designs viking-themed board games for Little Hammer Games.