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Sunday, November 1, 2020

Review: The Winter King by Chris Avellone

In similar fashion as my last review, The Winter King is a short story from Chris Avellone found in Dragon+ issue 2, published in June 2015. This one also takes place in Icewind Dale, so for all of the northern tundra lovers, this is another story you may want to check out; it is available for free on the Dragon+ app. Chris Avellone apparently wrote this story as he was working on the Icewind Dale games about two decades ago.

The Winter King is about an older dwarf of the Sunset Mountains named Tiernon. He is on a quest to forge his greatest work, that all dwarven smiths get later in life. The most familiar would likely be Bruenor Battlehammer's forging of Aegis-fang in The Crystal Shard. For some reason Tiernon feels drawn to the Gloomfrost Glacier of Icewind Dale. He journeys out alone with a chest of his belongings strapped to his back. He also has a handy pair of pickaxes that can freeze or melt ice on command; I may steal this idea for my own Dungeons & Dragons games.

The story itself is simple. Tiernon faces a creature, and he has to psych himself up to do so alone. That is really all the story; one of loneliness. For those who enjoy solo adventures, maybe you will enjoy this. It is eerily quiet, the only dialogue is the once or twice Tiernon speaks to himself, and the one flashback when he was camping with some Reghedmen barbarians.

There is also a scene when feats are listed in association with a previous items old Tiernon crafted. These scenes mention things otherwise unmentioned in Realms Lore. We have Aengys Soothhammer and his fortress; the Many-toothed Maul; the Nine Beards of Clan Hearthstone; Singing Blade of Aihonen; Ored's Wood; and of course the eponymous Winter King. These are cool names and all, but I doubt we will ever get more details beyond this short story.

This is for lovers of Icewind Dale. Beyond learning a small tale of the relentless place, there is not much here. We don't learn overmuch about Tiernon, before or after his exploits. Surely this is in large part because it is a short story, but while not a lot of bad, there isn’t much good. The Winter King is Acceptable.


You can track my current progress here.

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