I read The Anvil of Ice – and the two subsequent books in the trilogy, The Forge in the Forest and The Hammer of the Sun more than a few years after they were first published, as a teenager devouring the fantasy section of the local library and anything my godmother, who had an unerring eye for fantasy books, could give me. I’m pretty sure she put me on to Michael Scott Rohan, and I’m awfully glad she did. His other works are fun – I like The Spiral series, where a man from mid-nineties UK slips into a sideways fantasy world that runs beneath, above and through our own (two titles now on SF Gateway, the others to follow shortly).
But his masterpiece is The Winter of the World series. The tale of Alv the cowherd, who discovers he has a magical power and sets off to defeat the ever-encroaching ice, can sound clichéd. But Rohan’s writing, plotting and characterisation are remarkable and lift the books head and shoulders above most of the genre. Entwined with mythology and folklore, but striking off in their own brave and fascinating direction, dark and dangerous before it was fashionable to be so.
There are three subsequent books set in the same world, which are all enjoyable and readable and add much to the mythos, but somehow never quite manage to regain the sheer intensity and power of the main trilogy. No matter – for those three books alone, Rohan deserves to be remembered and celebrated. If you like fantasy and haven’t read them, I urge you to – you’re in for a treat.
As ever, you can read more about Michael Scott Rohan at The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, and find his books on his author page at SF Gateway.