“An Oath of Wintersteel” by JM Guillen

I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

“An Oath of Wintersteel” by JM GuillenAn Oath of Wintersteel: A Weird West Steampunk Adventure (A Sojourn Into Twilight Book 1) by JM Guillen
Series: The Paean of Sundered Dreams, A Sojourn Into Twilight #1
Published: 2016 by Irrational Worlds
Genres: Horror/Gothic, Western, Steampunk
Pages: 196
Format: eARC
Source: the author
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An Oath of Wintersteel is the latest book by evil mastermind JM Guillen, who has fast become one of my favorite authors. Guillen’s series The Paean of Sundered Dreams is a lot like Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere, in that all of his books are set in a shared multiverse despite different times, characters, planets, and even genres. The entire concept here is of irrational worlds–ones that have been broken by a Lovecraftian apocalyptic event that nobody truly understands. Figuring out what happened and how the remnants of humanity are holding the darkness at bay is one of the really fun parts of reading this series–even though you can jump in at any place, it’s a lot like putting together a puzzle as you keep gathering more and more clues from each book.

So, onward to Wintersteel. This story takes place on the same planet as On the Matter of the Red Hand, but in a different time and a different part of the world.  It’s also a completely different genre–a Western/steampunk/horror story.

An Oath of Wintersteel begins as Sierra del Amaija and her mentor Domingo ride their horses through the desert. They’re chasing rumors about the Lost City of Teredon, and have learned about a witch called the Harridan who seeks something lost beneath the world. Their quest takes them through an underground labyrinth where they face maddening winds, eldritch horrors, mushroom creatures, and malevolent automatons.  Armed with only their guns (and a handful of explosives), Sierra and Domingo must fight battles of both strength and with in order to achieve their quest.

While An Oath of Wintersteel is only the first segment of Sierra’s story, it has a satisfying story arc. This is something that I find important when I read series that aren’t over yet. I want each book to be both a story in and of itself and a gateway into a larger world, and Wintersteel did an excellent job of striking that balance.

Having read nearly all of Guillen’s published stories (I may be missing a novella or two), I enjoyed that Sierra had her own voice that felt distinct from other narrators. I enjoyed getting into her head and seeing her navigate the territory between being an emotionless yet artful gunslinger and being a woman whose is driven by temper and emotions. She’s kind of like a cowboy paladin, which is pretty damn cool.

An Oath of Wintersteel is an excellent chapter in an excellent series/shared world/diabolical plot to keep me up reading way past my bedtime, and I highly recommend it. (And I’m not just saying it because the eldritch voices tell me to!)

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