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The Winternight Trilogy // review + discussion with Teenu

The Winternight trilogy is, in my opinion, one of a kind.

I read the trilogy over a month or so, taking a break during my finals, and IT. WAS. AWESOME. I considered doing individual review for each book, but I don’t think I can now that I’ve read it all. There’s just so much to talk about!

Since I can’t do a proper review, but I still want to talk about it, I thought I’d switch things up! My friend Teenu, whom I know bookstagram and Bangalore’s bookstagrammer/book club, also read the trilogy around the same time. Today, I am here with a discussion post, where basically Teenu and I talk about the trilogy, giving you our opinions, our favourite parts, and much more.

Before moving on to the discussion, do follow Teenu on Instagram and Twitter! I love her book reviews and she gives really good book recommendations.

Warning: this post contains spoilers for all three books of the trilogy!

Note: For ease for reading, I’m putting my side of the conversation on the left and Teenu’s on the right.

Another note: our actual conversation was very messy haha. We kept jumping topics and revisiting later. I took some creative liberty to section the chats for better reading.

Sumedha: Hi Teenu!

Teenu: Hey youuu

Sumedha: Are you up for discussing the Winternight trilogy now?

Teenu: Yes yes

First, we spoke a about the overall plot.

Sumedha:
What’d you think of the plot? For all three books?

Teenu:
I think they have used the folklore brilliantly and mixed it with fantasy
I was reading about morozko and saw that the winter king is a popular character in Russian folkstories

Sumedha:
Is it? I’ve not read any Russian folklores before!
And I definitely agree with that! I especially loved that it was introduced well in book 1. We started off with minimal references to magical stuff and slowly, by the end, it was completely magical. I didn’t feel overwhelmed with information.

Teenu:
Even I haven’t, actually was searching for some good fanfictions/fanarts. Then saw some old movies dating back to 1960s and stuff titled Morozko

Sumedha:
Whoa so cool. I’ll have to read up about it sometime.

Teenu:
Yes they built up the plot so well.
So that’s the good thing about this book, it picks up lot of myths, beliefs and then peppered it with magic and built a beautiful world around it

Sumedha:
Haha yeah. It was awesome that between the war of Bear and Morozko, Vasya just became a whole new side then brought everyone together in time. They even walked together after Sasha died, when she was lost in grief. That was game changing.
Yeah! And by the end of book 3 it was more like magic was peppered with normalcy πŸ˜‚

Teenu:
I didn’t see that coming at All! It was refreshing to see that
I know right 😝
Steady growth towards magic and you feel it’s normal

Sumedha:
Same! I did wonder in book 1, how a normal-ish girl became so important and how she has so much influence. But soon, we see that it’s more because of her personality than her powers.
Because we always read books with “the chosen one” trope and about characters who have a lot of power from the start, but learn how to use it later. Vasya accomplished everything by being who she is and not through what she’s been given.

Teenu:
That’s why she made such an impact with the winter king also right. It’s not like he hasn’t had other snow maiden wearing the necklace but Vasya was different

Sumedha:
Yep. I didn’t see it at that point, though. I actually understood it through Konstantin’s point of view.
He hates her. He talks about how she isn’t pretty but her actions and energy catch eyes.
It was through his eyes that I fully understood Vasya’s charm.

Teenu:
It’s also refreshing to read about a female protagonist who isn’t the ‘pretty one’. Her character is what made her so powerful

Sumedha:
Yeah! She is “pretty” through her personality.
It was great.

Teenu:
I also like the part where Morozko teaches her how to use a sword/knife

Sumedha:
Yes! She felt so empowered by just knowing how to wield a weapon.

Teenu:
And the triology ended in perfect way too
Not too rushed, characters not behaving OTT, you are happy after reading it.

Sumedha:
OTT?

Teenu:
Over the topπŸ™ˆ

Sumedha:
Ohh πŸ˜‚
The ending was really perfect. None of the characters broke character for an epilogue.

And a lot about the characters.

Teenu:
Every character got the time to leave an impact on the readers mind
For example when we first meet Morozko’s brother we hate him and then towards the end you can’t help but warm up towards him
All the characters are layered and complex

Sumedha:
Yes!
I was so surprised by how the Bear turned out.
I loved that the monster isn’t completely evil. I’ve never seen that done in fantasy before, with magical creatures. And we also see how Bear and Vasya bond over chaos and madness.

Teenu:
Yes! Especially when he was instrumental in making Morozko forget about Vasya in the first place
Yes…grey characters are the best and that’s what makes this series so different from others

Sumedha:
Agreed! Morozko is supposed to be a bad person. All the stories surrounding him portrayed him bad (in that world), but he changed. Even though he deals with the dead, we like him almost from the start.

Sumedha:
It was surprising, to see Morozko, Bear and Vasya throughout. Morozko is considered bad and evil but he helps Vasya and is soft in heart. Vasya is a stubborn and headstrong girl who is good and powerful but she can also become mad due to magic. Bear mourned a human priest when he actually enjoys chaos and destruction.

Teenu:
That’s the beauty of this series tbh! Every character surprises you when you least expect them to. Even the side characters like Olga, Sasha etc etc. When Vasya gets trapped in the alternate world, the witches do help her when they didn’t want to

Teenu:
And Konstantin has to be a very well written character

Sumedha:
Honestly, I thought Konstantin was weird for the most part. Because his intentions in his own mind are unclear. He’s a well written character but his mind was so muddy. He preached for God but partnered up with the devil for power and a following. He hated but also wanted Vasya. Right from the start, his weird obsession with Vasya set him as a different character whom you can’t predict.

Teenu:
Yes he became a hypocrite and paid for his deeds. He called her a witch coz he was having unhealthy obsession with Vasya and did so much nonsense because of that

Sumedha:
Yep. While the plot is amazing, the characters made it so much better. At times I was confused whether the books are plot-driven or character-driven. I usually classify books into one or the other, and find that I like more character-driven books. But this was both.

Teenu:
πŸ’―
It’s very difficult to make even side characters significant and in this book almost everyone had a significant role to play
Like in book 1 when Vasya’s father sacrificed himself to save her
Even her stupid stepmother died coz she was lame
She was one big bitch and psycho

Sumedha:
Exactly. Always some characters get lost or aren’t fully formed. But in this trilogy, even Dmitrii was given focus and thought.
Omg her stepmum πŸ€¦πŸ½β€β™€ I completely forgot about her.
I think book 1 was quite different from books 2 and 3, wouldn’t you agree
Because book 1 had a least a sense of normalcy. Somewhat. Vasya still dealt with humane problems such as being a woman in the society etc.

Teenu:
Yes yes. It was like planting a seed and then the magical story kicked off from second book
Third had the maximum amount of magic

Sumedha:
Also, I was so sad when Sasha left in book 1. It happened pretty soon but I was already attached to him. Alokshya grew on me, though. He’s different from Sasha but he loved and believed in Vasya. It was awesome that we got to see Sasha again, but I hated that we never saw or heard of Alokshya.

Teenu:
I agree. Sasha luckily played a role in helping Vasya and he was a true brother to her.
I almost thought we will get to know about Alokshya also but well, let’s assume he’s happily living at their home

Of course, we HAD to talk about the romance.

Teenu:
I mean when Morozko says come in Vasya, it’s cold. swoon. Even when he wants to compel her to protect him he can’t help but fall for her and the way he sacrificed his freedom for her life, it’s just beautifully done. I love their relationship in the books. The way it progresses. I loved you, as I could
It was so painful 😭so happy bear brought him back to life

Sumedha:
When Vasya whispered back “I loved you as I could too”? I had feels. But the relationship was done so well. Morozko liked her but Vasya didn’t until later. And she stood up for her lack of feelings, she didn’t cave under his love. I loved that. She grew to love him on her own.

Teenu:
Yes and I literally blushed when I read the bath house scene. I felt it was very well written. The relationship graph progressed well. Vasya being Vasya and morozko learning to accept the strong woman he fell in love with

Sumedha:
I blushed too! When she flipped them over and said “don’t give me orders”?! Oh. My. Lord.

Teenu:
I swearrr ❀ and morozko accepting her fiesty nature!

Some world-building appreciation ❀

Sumedha:
It was so cool how Arden built the magical world. Even the immortals did not know the complete vastness of their world but it didn’t seem like the wasn’t formed properly (to us). Usually in other books I would get annoyed because the author can spend more time and build the world properly but here, the limitlessness was part of the charm.

Teenu:
Yesss. I mean imagine the amount of magic that is there to explore. Wonder if Vasya will go back to her great grandmom. So many timelines and places to explore

Sumedha:
I think she will. That was her plan all along. Also to take Marya with her.

Teenu:
Marya was another sweetheart ❀

Vasya and Sasha deserved some more talking time.

Sumedha:
While I’ve read a lot of reviews on these books, the one thing I don’t see spoken about is how Vasya was a woman not to be bound by society’s expectations and it was okay. A marriage would break her spirit. Nunnery would break her spirit. And in the end, she made a place of her own. She had Morozko but she was still an individual and free. She built a reputation as a capable woman.

Sumedha:
We see a lot of this in books where women are headstrong and brave etc. but no matter what, there will be a love interest who help them. And despite how it’s shown, they do depend on the man for reassurance and support. But Vasya didn’t.
She didn’t need Morozko for herself, she needed him to help her family and Muscovy. But she wanted him.

Teenu:
Yes ❀ that’s why I loved her character so much! She knew herself that she couldn’t be tied down anywhere and she evolved to be this strong woman. I hated her brief fiance so much.
And even when she loved him she didn’t become a love sick girl and leave everything for him and lose her individuality

Sumedha:
Oh my goodness that fiance. I could clearly see parallels with real world men tbh. Can’t have a woman who is better than him at something “for men”.
Yeah! When Midnight came to the revelation that Vasya went after Morozko for Moscow and not as a love sick girl, I was like “duh.”

Teenu:
Oh totally!
Typical toxic masculinity persona

Sumedha:
I also liked that Sasha broke stereotypes. He was a priest but he didn’t stay in the monastery. He advised the king and took strategic decisions and fought for Moscow. He was not condemned for not being confined to one thing as much as Vasya because, after all, he’s a man. But it was seen in him too.
Besides looks, there was similarity between Sasha and Vasya. Both were headstrong, refusing to stick to one thing, and both were brave. But they were so different in their approach. Sasha was calm and strategic while Vasya took risks.

Teenu:
Yes and I did like they could under stand each other so well.
Sasha helped Vasya even knowing that he is putting his life at risk
He was bound to brotherly duties than what was expected of him

Sumedha:
Oh yeah. Priests are supposed to leave their families behind but he didn’t do that.

Both of us cried a little while reading too..

Teenu:
The horse riding competition where Vasya was assaulted, it was very painful to read πŸ₯Ί

Sumedha:
Oh yes!
And her anguish when Solovoy died, and almost giving up after that.
Honestly I expected more deaths, you know? I’m surprised that we only had one lasting death of a character we like.
Did you read the author’s note? Apparently there was an Aleksandr Peresvet who died in true history.

Teenu:
I loved her horse so much. I cried when he died

Teenu:
I did too. But we got a happy ending so no regrets 😬
Yes I did read it!

Sumedha:
OH MY GOODNESS YES. I don’t usually cry so I didn’t cry there but when he came back to life? I had tears in my eyes.

Teenu:
Yeppp

If you were to pick a favourite book out of the three, which would you pick?

Teenu:
Ooo so tough but maybe the third 😌
Yours?

Sumedha:
For the magic and adventure?

Teenu:
And character growth. I was happy to see Vasya being the true witch she was meant to be. She literally saved the world

Sumedha:
Yes! And it was not done cockily or even through complete fear. Her emotions through it all were perfect. Even exhaustion was shown.

Sumedha:
Okay so, I kinda want to pick book 1 because it was just written too well. And coming-of-age Vasya was done brilliantly. And we get introduced to Morozko then. But book 2 is balanced. Vasya is a boy, has a reputation and there’s magic too. Book 3 brings it all together. Writing-wise I would say book 1. Plot and character-wise, definitely book 3.

Teenu:
You summed it up:)

We also spoke about things we didn’t like.

Sumedha:
The only thing that kinda irked me, though? She didn’t have her periods. It was so weird. I always find this weird in books.

Teenu:
She didn’t right..let’s assume she got them

Sumedha:
Yeah but. It would be a problem when riding horses and stuff?
If she didn’t eat well, we can assume she didn’t cuz of less nutrition in her body. But otherwise?

Teenu:
Yeah and she was constantly riding Solovoy
He’s my favourite literary pet 😭

Sumedha:
Yeah! If not him, she was walking a lot and she even rid on Pozhar.
I don’t know if we can classify him as a pet, though πŸ˜‚

Teenu:
Magical horse who was kinda pet😝
She was a very active child

Sumedha:
Yeah πŸ˜‚
Is there anything you didn’t like?

Teenu:
Actually not reallyπŸ€”
Yes I’m a biased fangirl πŸ™ˆ

Would you want more books?

Sumedha:
You know what. I actually wouldn’t mind have a book about Alokshya.
It would be a lot more normal, but I want closure about him!
But also, Marya. A book on her, if she grows up with Vasya in the grandmother’s house area, would be awesome.

Teenu:
I do wanna read about Marya. Maybe we will get something in the future?
I heard there is going to be a T.V. adaptation soon
I think that’s the only open end thing left in the book, Alokshya’s story.

Sumedha:
I hope so! But the author spent 7 years on this so maybe she won’t get back to it. We never know.
Really, a TV show?! I did not know this!

Teenu:
Yes I saw somewhere.

Teenu also drew parallels with other books.

Teenu:
It’s weird how I have drawn parallels with so many characters from Game of thrones and even though they are not similar, they have something similar.

Sumedha:
Such as which characters?

Teenu:
Jon snow – Sasha
Arya – Vasya
Konstantin- Jamie
Vasya’s father – Ned
Olga-sansa

Sumedha:
Konstantin and Jamie πŸ€”
I wouldn’t have thought of that.

Teenu:
Both had golden hair, both were conflicted with what they wanted
SooπŸ˜‹

Sumedha:
πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚
Nice comparison.

Teenu:
And there were many parallels to Amercian Gods, in that book also they describe about chyerti and the offerings you give to have a sustainable environment

Sumedha:
I haven’t read the book so I don’t know of it πŸ™ˆ

And we just wrapped up after that!

As you saw, Teenu and I had a LOT of feels over this trilogy. And we basically appreciated everything. We didn’t have anything to complain about!

Thank you so much for joining me in this discussion Teenu! It was awesome talking about the books with you.

Have you read the Winternight trilogy? What’s your opinion on it? Do you agree or disagree with what we said?

One thought on “The Winternight Trilogy // review + discussion with Teenu

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