Wynter Atrialan, the Winter King, once lived in peace with his southern, Summerlander neighbors, but when Falcon, the prince of Summerlea, stole Wynter’s bride and murdered his young brother, Wynter vows vengeance. Calling upon a dangerous Wintercraig magic called the Ice Heart, he gathers his armies and marches against Summerlea, crushing their armies and spreading icy winter in his wake.
After three long, bitter years of battle, Summerlea is defeated and Wynter comes to the heart of the kingdom to issue his terms for their surrender. The prince of Summerlea stole Wynter’s bride and slew Wynter’s Heir. He wants the loss replaced. The Ice Heart is consuming him. Wynter hopes holding his own child in his arms will rekindle the warmth of love and melt the Ice Heart before he becomes the monster of Wintercraig legend, the Ice King.
The Summer King has three very precious daughters whom he loves dearly. Wynter will take one of them to wife. She will have one year to provide him with an Heir. If she fails, he will turn her out in the ice and snow of the mountains and claim another princess for his wife. And so it will continue until Wynter has his Heir or the Summer King is out of daughters. All the while, Wynter will enjoy the vengeance of knowing the Summer King will suffer each day without his beloved daughter(s), as Wynter suffers each day without his own beloved brother.
The plan is perfect—except for one small detail. The Summer King has a fourth daughter. One of which he is not so fond.
Blamed as a child for the death of her beloved mother, Khamsin Coruscate, the forgotten princess of Summerlea, has spent her life hidden from the world like an embarrassing secret. Dressed in cast-off gowns and left to her own devices, with only the determination of her loyal nursemaid to ensure she receives the education befitting an Heir to the Summer Throne, Khamsin haunts the abandoned towers and gardens of Summerlea’s royal palace, close to her beloved late mother’s treasures, and waits for the day her father will recognize her as a Princess of the Rose. But though she dreams of the valor and sacrifices of ancient Summerlea heroes and pines for paternal love that will never come, Khamsin is no sweet, gentle, helpless princess-in-a-tower. She is a fiercely passionate creature with a volatile, rebellious temper that is often as reckless and destructive as the dangerous forces of her weathergift, the power of storms.
Together will their stormy personalities be able to meld or will their powers destroy not only their love but the whole world?
The Symbolism of Seasons in Fantasy
As someone who holds a BA in English (concentration in Creative Writing), I have long studied the tools authors employ in their creative works, including theme, symbolism, imagery, etc. As an author, I employ those tools on a regular basis in my own works. Because of the setting and plot of my current novel, THE WINTER KING, one of the predominant symbolic devices in the story revolves around weather and the seasons.
Brimming with imagery and movement, the seasons are a powerful symbol of change in any capacity, of emotion, of ideas, of life itself. In fantasy literature, that symbolism can be employed in new and interesting ways simply because fantasy worlds can operate under different rules than our own Earth. Individual seasons, for instance, could last for the earth equivalent of years. You could write a story in which generations pass never knowing summer, for instance, and play with all the social, political, and simple survival challenges associated with global climates that only truly change every few centuries—but then change significantly. The possibilities are endless.
One of the most famous current uses of seasons as symbols in fantasy literature is George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones. In GoT’s Westeros, summer and winter are long seasons, lasting years at a time, with the years of summer referred to as “sweet summer” (times of plenty, of innocence, of warmth). The motto of the family Stark, guardians of the north, is “Winter is coming”, and when winter comes, so too comes hardship, danger, and the threat of the White Walkers (and considering all the hardship faced by the people of Westeros to date, that’s saying something). For all the ferocious battles that have been fought between the people of Westeros thusfar in the series, we haven’t yet seen the true threat from the north. Martin himself says that the symbolism of summer and winter goes deeper, to the heart of pretty much every conflict in the book (and in RL), that there are “always dark periods in each of our lives, and even if things are good now (“summer”), we must always be ready for a dark period when events turn against us (“winter”).” On a side note, I will be very interested to see if, when winter does truly come (and go), if the Stark family will find its strength reborn. (Fingers crossed.)
In his book, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis’s titular witch has cast the world of Narnia into an endless frozen winter where “Christmas never comes”. Here, the symbolism of winter is more religious in nature, alluding to the frozen heart of those who have not accepted the love of God into their heart. The coming of the lion Aslan (the Christ figure of the book) thaws the witch’s winter and ultimately restores summer to Narnia.
In my novel, The Winter King, the contrast of the seasons (in particular summer and winter) play a huge role. The two main kingdoms of the story are Wintercraig (a wild, cold, icy land in the north) and Summerlea (full of fertile, rolling fields, abundance, and self-indulgences). I’ve also actually embodied the seasons in characters in the books, most notably Wynter (the hard, ruthless, king from the north), and the Seasons, the heroine Khamsin’s famous three sisters, Spring, Summer, and Autumn. Khamsin isn’t a Season, but she is definitely a powerhouse and a force for change, as evidenced by her weathergift, the power of storms.
In the story, contrary to the belief of the Summerlanders who have grown overly accustomed to an easy life, winter itself isn’t a dangerous threat. The folk of Wintercraig appreciate the snow and ice of their country for all the beauty and abundance it breeds in the spring. They respect the harshness of their land: it makes them stronger, binds them more closely because they must rely upon one another to survive. The real threat in Wintercraig isn’t winter (or even Wynter). The real threat is the return of Rorjak the Ice King (a dread god who wishes to cast the world into endless winter). King Wynter, who drank the Ice Heart—Rorjak’s immortal essence—to avenge his brother’s death, is slowly freezing from the inside out. He is losing his humanity, losing the ability to feel compassion or love, and, in fact, losing his own soul. Only love has the power to thaw Wynter’s increasingly icy heart and save the world from the threat of Rorjak’s return.
Question: What are some of your favorite stories where seasons play a significant part?
About the author:
C. L. WILSON grew up camping and waterskiing across America, from Cherry Creek reservoir in Denver, CO, to Lake Gaston on the border of Virginia and North Carolina, to Georgia’s Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona. When she wasn’t waterskiing and camping on family vacations, you could usually find her with a book in one hand and a sketch pad in the other—either reading, writing stories, or drawing. Sometime around the ninth grade, she decided she was better at drawing her pictures with words than paints and charcoals, and she set aside her sketchpad to focus entirely on writing.
Wilson is active in Tampa Area Romance Authors (TARA), her local chapter of Romance Writers of America. When not engaged in writerly pursuits, she enjoys golfing, swimming, reading, playing video games with her children, and spending time with her friends and family. She is also an avid collector (her husband says pack rat!), and she’s the proud owner of an extensive collection of Dept. 56 Dickens and North Pole villages, unicorns, Lladro figurines, and mint condition comic books.
Wilson currently resides with her husband, their three wonderful children, and their little black cat, Oreo, in a secluded ranch community less than thirty miles away from the crystalline waters and sugar-sand beaches of Anna Maria Island and Siesta Key on Florida’s gulf coast.