Review: Winter Be My Shield, Jo Spurrier

Review: Winter Be My Shield, Jo Spurrier

The Oaken Bookcase > Blog > Discover Aussie Fantasy > Review: Winter Be My Shield, Jo Spurrier

Welcome to the first review in The Oaken Bookcase’s Discover Australian Fantasy month! You can find more information about the feature and links to other reviews on the Aussie Fantasy page.

Title: Winter Be My Shield (Goodreads)

Author:  Jo Spurrier

Rating: ★★★★☆

Sierra has a despised and forbidden gift — she raises power from the suffering of others. Enslaved by the King’s Torturer, Sierra escapes, barely keeping ahead of Rasten, the man sent to hunt her down. Then she falls in with dangerous company: the fugitive Prince Cammarian and his crippled foster-brother, Isidro.

But Rasten is not the only enemy hunting them in the frozen north and as Sierra’s new allies struggle to identify friend from foe, Rasten approaches her with a plan to kill the master they both abhor. Sierra is forced to decide what price she is willing to pay for her freedom and her life …


Series: Children of the Black Sun #1 of ?
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Published: Voyager Australia (HarperCollins), June 2012
Pages: 464
My copy: Digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley, thanks!

Paper copies: Booktopia • The Book House • Book Depository
E-book copies: • Google books • Borders


Welcome to the land of Ricalan – the snows are thick for six months of the year and the occupying Mesentreian empire are barely holding invaders at the borders. Sierra, a sorceress barely in control of her considerable powers, is on the run. Prince Cammarian and his brother Isidro are also in hiding, but there are invaders about and nowhere is safe. Winter Be My Shield is a story of magic, love, loss and sacrifice in a cold and dangerous world.

The magic system in Winter Be My Shield is awesome – power is built up through pleasure or pain, then released either in lightning or fire with brilliant, or in Sierra’s case, unpredictable results. The magical scenes are described so well, I could imagine in detail the lightning arcing over her hands as she tries to hold the power in – awesome stuff! It’s just a shame that Sierra blacks out during the major battle scene so we don’t get to see her full powers in action!

The story is told from the point of view of several of the main characters, switching between chapters, and sometimes within chapters. This does allow us to see what’s happening when characters aren’t together, but I felt it meant that the character development was spread quite thinly. The characters we spend the most time in the heads of are Isidro and Sierra. Even so, I still thought I didn’t really know Sierra by the end of the story, whereas I felt I knew Isidro better through all his suffering.

This book is not for the faint of heart – there’s plenty of blood, guts and torture so it should appeal to fans of the A Game of Thrones “low fantasy” style. It’s not quite on the same scale as A Song of Ice and Fire though – even though the world is large and reasonably well described and the political intrigue is there, the story is not as complex or confusing.

I really did enjoy reading Winter Be My Shield. Although it was a slightly longer read than other books I’ve read recently, it was exciting all the way through. My only gripe is that it seemed like it was building up to a big showdown at the end and then it kind of finished without warning. Hopefully it won’t be too long until the next in the series is released!

This is a sizzling debut from Jo Spurrier and I can’t wait to read more of her work.

Warnings: Plenty of grisly combat, torture and general blood and guts. Also, sex scenes and bad language. Did I mention it was gritty?

About the Author

“Jo Spurrier was born in 1980 and has a Bachelor of Science, but turned to writing because people tend to get upset when scientists make things up. Her interests include knitting, spinning, cooking and research. She lives in Adelaide and spends a lot of time daydreaming about snow.”
Bio and photo from

If, like me, you’re wondering how an Aussie can write so convincingly about a world covered in ice and snow, Jo wrote an article on the research she did for Winter Be My Shield on


12 thoughts on “Review: Winter Be My Shield, Jo Spurrier

  1. Ellie says:

    I like the sound of the frozen setting, might keep an eye our for it.
    Ellie recently posted..It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?My Profile

    • Angelya says:

      It’s really very good, I hope you enjoy it Ellie 🙂 I’ve had trouble finding it on UK sites… I suspect it’s not released there just yet.

  2. bn100 says:

    Thanks for your honest review. It sounds like an interesting book.

  3. Jaime Lester says:

    Sounds wonderful. Except for the switching POV’s. That can either be a great addition to a story or a serious hindrance. It doesn’t really seem to me that it was too bad, according to your review. But a lack of character development stinks too. I don’t know about this one. Usually I know whether I want to read a book or not immediately. With Winter Be My Shield, I am just not sure. I think I should read it anyway. Yep, that is what I will do!

    • Angelya says:

      I love that you just talked yourself into reading it! xD You should, it really is a great book and the switching pov didn’t bother me that much while reading. I hope you enjoy it!

  4. Kev Benger says:

    Loved the book. caracter switching did’t bother me. I’m an avid fantacy reader and found Jo’s writting up there with the best. I mainly came on to the site to find out when the new book will be released. Personally I find Australian writters are the equal of any in the world and as of now JO is right up there .

    • Angelya says:

      Thanks for your comment! I agree, I loved this one! I wish I knew when the second book was coming, but they’re keeping very quiet about it.

  5. Cam says:

    I really enjoyed the book so I emailed Jo to find out when the next was due. She wrote: The second book, called Black Sun Light My Way, will be released in June this year (2013), with the third title, North Star Guide Me Home, scheduled for June 2014.

  6. […] for the second book in the Children of the Black Sun series and so contains spoilers for the first, Winter Be My Shield. You may wish to read my review for that book […]

  7. […] Sun trilogy and so contains spoilers for books one and two. You may prefer to read my reviews for Winter Be My Shield and Black Sun Light My Way […]

  8. kay says:

    I loved reading all of the series but am wondering what’s coming next?

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