Windhaven by George RR Martin and Lisa Tuttle

Rating 8.8/10
One of the best fantasy stories ever told.

Book of the Month

Politics before adventure.

I really liked the imaginative setting and the enchanting theme, but felt that if more emphasis had been placed on adventure, action and exploration, rather than politics, the book would have been tremendous. The vivid setting was crying out for a more ambitious storyline.

I very much liked the light reading, and flowing writing style, but found the "parts" (big chapters) too long. A few more layers to the storyline, via different sub-stories, might have helped to break up these long "parts".

I thought the principle of following the lifecycle of the lead character was novel, but the big jump in years between "parts" felt unnatural, and left me intrigued to know what had occurred in the intervening years.

The sections with action in hinted at the potential of this book. They were captivating, combining very nicely with the rich descriptions of the landscape and weather. Some of the outcomes were a little predictable, however.

I am still searching for a more cheery, light hearted fantasy, adventure book, or series. It is proving difficult! Trying to avoid war, excessive politics, epic struggles and hardship is very tricky!

I really wanted to like this one off book by George R.R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle. The writing style is excellent, suitable for a broad audience, but there is just too much "huff and puff" without substance. I found that amount of politics gave the book a droney, grumpy feel, which unfortunately detracted from the otherwise enchanting storyline.
Mark Perfect, 8/10

It is 6am in the morning, and I have read relatively non-stop since 6pm last night. I do not normally write a review immediately upon reviewing a book, but occasionally the desperate need to perfectly capture the feelings upon finishing the book drive me to my computer, no matter the time or circumstances. At times it can improperly affect the reviews bias, but on this occasion, I am going to make another exception.

‘Windhaven’ by George R. R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle moved me in a way that no book has done in many, many years – possibly ever. What appears to be a one-off fantasy story, Windhaven covers the entire life of one character – Maris of Lesser Amberly. In this way, I was somewhat disappointed, to be honest. Not being a fan of one-off fantasy books, nor of time-jumps, I was immediately perturbed by the way this book began playing itself out at the one-third mark. But already it had caught its’ hooks in me, so that I kept reading with barely a memory of my displeasure.

At times, the Windhaven appears somewhat derivative – a word I dislike immensely, but a word that is the only one that suits another book about an elite group of messengers of some kind (think Kate Elliott’s ‘Crossroads’ series or Kristen Britain’s ‘Green Rider’ series). At times, the characters seem small, somewhat two-dimensional; as if the author’s did not want to stretch the boundaries for fear that it would cause the book to require a sequel.

While these ‘At times’ may be accurate, they should in no way be construed as a reliable commentary on Windhaven: To do so would fundamentally mistake what this book is; a one-of-its-kind, exemplary one-off fantasy story, so vividly told that by the time you have finished the final pages – and therefore the final pages of Maris’ life – you feel the melancholy sorrow of a life nearing its end. No other book has so effectively communicated the slow passage of time that comes with growing older, nor the myriad mistakes, errors in judgement, and selfish naivety that come with growing up. In looking back, I feel Maris’ life as my own, and exult in the few times that I got it right, and am glad that, even though I sometimes made mistakes, and often thought only of myself, I did something.

And then I remember it was a book.

In no way does this book remind me of George R. R. Martin’s more popular works, likely because Windhaven was written fifteen-years before ‘A Game of Thrones’ was published. That this book is now 34 years old is baffling to me, as it reveals itself as the progenitor for many stories that have come since – therefore making it not the derivative book I might have led you to believe. Windhaven is, in many ways, the story that came before some of our most beloved fantasy fiction – and in many other ways is far beyond what those that have come since have achieved. There is a sense of familial weight to this book that makes you walk away from it feeling as if you have read of one of your own ancestors. The relationships, the characters, the events – they might be smaller than those found in other books, but in that way it makes this even more a personal story. Not all our lives are made up of fantastic quests and improbable odds. Friends are lost, relationships strained, hard-feelings soothed, and mistakes heavily outweighing the good we have done.

I could wax rhapsodically about Windhaven for some time, but instead I will say this: I wish I had read Windhaven long ago, so that I could see how much influence it has had on all that I have read and loved over the past two decades. However, I am conversely glad that I have read this book now, as I suspect it would not have had the emotional impact on a younger version of me as it has had today.

Windhaven may be one of the best fantasy books I’ve read in the past two decades, but that surely makes it one of the best fantasy stories ever told.
Joshua S Hill, 9.8/10

This Windhaven book review was written by and Joshua S Hill

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5-stars

Really, really, boring. No plot develops until the last 3rd of the book, and then it's anticlimactic.

6.9/10 from 2 reviews

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