Series Review: Rotherweird Trilogy, Books 1-3

Now that the trilogy is complete in print and audio, here is my review for all three books in this extraordinary fantasy series: Rotherweird, Wyntertide, and Lost Acre. I have attempted to avoid spoilers in my reviews but if you are yet to listen to the series then you may wish to skip the synopsis for each of the later books. 

The narrator of all the Rotherweird audiobooks, Kris Dyer, was an asset to the series, juggling the anglicised names and their more unusual companions without pause. He created clear, distinct voices for each character, and remained engaging throughout. His voice had a pleasant, friendly quality and his pace was gentle without ever feeling slow. I have enjoyed several other audiobooks that he has narrated, but will  now forever associate his familiar tones with the eccentric inhabitants of Rotherweird.


~ BOOK ONE: ROTHERWEIRD ~

Rotherweird audiobook cover, an intricate map illusrated by Sasha Laika in black and red.Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Duration: 16 hrs 44 mins.
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books.

Audible Summary: "Rotherweird is a twisted, arcane murder-mystery. The town of Rotherweird stands alone - there are no guidebooks, despite the fascinating and diverse architectural styles cramming the narrow streets, the avant-garde science and offbeat customs. Cast adrift from the rest of England by Elizabeth I, Rotherweird's independence is subject to one disturbing condition: nobody, but nobody, studies the town or its history.

For beneath the enchanting surface lurks a secret so dark that it must never be rediscovered, still less reused. But secrets have a way of leaking out. Two inquisitive outsiders have arrived: Jonah Oblong, to teach modern history at Rotherweird School (nothing local and nothing before 1800), and the sinister billionaire Sir Veronal Slickstone, who has somehow got permission to renovate the town's long-derelict Manor House.

Slickstone and Oblong, though driven by conflicting motives, both strive to connect past and present until they and their allies are drawn into a race against time - and each other. The consequences will be lethal and apocalyptic. Welcome to Rotherweird!

©2017 Andrew Caldecott (P)2017 WF Howes Ltd."

Rotherweird, Rotherweird Trilogy, Book 1 by Andrew Caldecott is the first book in an elaborate, labyrinthine series which peers beneath the veil of a town that exists in an isolated pocket of history. Secreted away from the rest of our world, Rotherweird is governed entirely separately and remains relatively untouched by wider England. In Rotherweird, ancient history is forbidden and cracks are appearing in the barrier between the town and the mystical paralell universe with which it seems intrinsically linked. I was fascinated by the idea of a hidden village untouched by the modern world, and Caldecott's meticulous world-building did not disappoint. Rotherweird's districts come alive with each new Elizabethan manor, Tudor street, and country lane the author introduces.

The characters are an eccentric, often disparate rabble, united by their fascination with Rotherweird's past and their growing determination to protect its future. It took me a while to settle into this audiobook because it required quite a lot of focus. There are so many characters with weird and wonderful names, a great deal of complex rules and regulations, and such a wealth of history to explore, that it was a little overwhelming at first. I am glad that I persevered, however, as the characters come alive as their adventure progresses.

I'd recommend this audiobook to people who like historical fantasy, and enjoy fictional worlds with an abundance of detail and texture.

(Click here to buy this book, listen to a sample, or add it to your wishlist!)




~ BOOK TWO: WYNTERTIDE ~

Wyntertide audiboook cover. An inricate map illustrated by Sasha Laika in black and blue.Wyntertide by Andrew Caldecott.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐
Duration: 16 hrs 57 mins.
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books.

Audible Summary: "Sir Veronal Slickstone is dead, his bid to exploit that secret consigned to dust, leaving Rotherweird to resume its abnormal normality after the travails of the summer...but someone is playing a very long game. 

Disturbing omens multiply: a funeral delivers a cryptic warning; an ancient portrait speaks; the Herald disappears - and democracy threatens the uneasy covenant between town and countryside. Geryon Wynter's intricate plot, centuries in the making, is on the move. Everything points to one objective - the resurrection of Rotherweird's dark Elizabethan past - and to one date: the Winter Solstice. Wynter is coming.... 

©2018 Andrew Caldecott (P)2018 Quercus Editions Limited."

Wyntertide, Rotherweird Trilogy, Book 2 by Andrew Caldecott. My return to Rotherweird came a year after listening to the first book, and once again it took a few chapters for me to reconnect with their world and remember who was who. Wyntertide picks up a little while after the end of the first book, but the relief the Rotherweirders felt following Slickstone's demise does not last long. Another threat looms, and in true Rotherweird style it refuses to be straightforward!

I found Wyntertide a little harder to immerse myself in than I did with Rotherweird, and it felt much slower in places. In many ways Wyntertide's purpose is to set the stage for what is to come, but it does more than simply bridge the gap, as the tension built steadily with each new revelation about their latest foe. Whereas book one has felt like very escapist fantasy, the political machinations in this outing held far greater resonance with those in our own version of England. As such, it was not a particularly relaxing listen, but nonetheless it was an engaging one, and whet my appetite for the final battle.

I would recommend this audiobook to anyone who enjoyed Rotherweird, but if you attempt to begin the series with this book then it will swiftly lose you. Start from the beginning if you value your sanity...

(Click here to buy this book, listen to a sample, or add it to your wishlist!)




~ BOOK THREE: LOST ACRE ~

Lost Acre audiobook cover. An intricate map illustrated by Sasha Laika in black and gold.Lost Acre by Andrew Caldecott.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐.
Duration: 15 hrs 27 mins.
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books.

Audible Summary: "Wynter is here.... Geryon Wynter has returned to Rotherweird and has not only taken over the town but is busy destroying the countrysiders' life too. 

Can our small band of heroes find a way to outwit a genius whose master plan is five centuries in the making? Watch this space.... 

©2019 Andrew Caldecott (P)2019 Quercus Editions Limited."

Lost Acre, Rotherweird Trilogy, Book 3 by Andrew Caldecott is our third and final visit to this fantastical realm. This time Lost Acre's very existence is under threat from its own ancient history. As Rotherweirdian's past and present unite to save the town and its people, Bolitho's chosen few must learn to trust each other's strengths if they are to defeat Wynter and his acolytes. Who those enemies are, and when they will reveal themselves, remains unpredictable to the last.

As with Rotherweird and Wyntertide before it, the conclusion to the trilogy is not an audiobook you can play in the background while doing other things and still expect to follow the plot. With more twists and turns than a game of Snakes and Ladders played on a helter-skelter, it requires one's full attention. The story more than earns your assiduity, immersing the listener in a richly detailed world full of extraordinary characters; many of whom have double (or even quintuple) personas to keep track of across the centuries. This is easier in the print and ebooks, which list the principal characters and sort them into their main groups - such as Outsiders, Townsfolk, and Countrysiders - and also keeps track of characters from the most significant historical eras, and those now deceased. In audio there are none of these cue's, with the listener reliant upon their memory and the author's evocative descriptions to follow the adventure. One of the reasons that my review will not go into too much detail about the plot (aside from wanting to avoid spoilers) is that I cannot even begin to guess at the spelling of most of the characters' names. Of all the audiobooks I have listened to, this series is the one that most makes me wish I had a physical book to refer to as I listen.

In this final story we discover the true identities and allegiances of the few characters who remained mysterious in the wake of book two, and the balance of the battle swung wildly from one chapter to the next. Rotherweird's fate was in jeopardy to the last, and not all of my favourites made it to the end as they fought the ancient, sinister forces seeking to take over the land.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoyed the first two books in the series, Rotherweird and Wyntertide, as it is too intricately-scripted to work as a stand-alone.

For me, the series is best summarised by loyal, steadfast Gregorious Jones, when he said: "Before a decisive battle, ask only for the company of friends." Lost Acre is a fitting end to a fantastical trilogy, and I will be sad to see my time in Rotherweird end.

*I received this audiobook from the publisher free of charge in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

(Click here to buy this book, listen to a sample, or add it to your wishlist!)




~ NARRATOR BIO ~
Kris Dyer

Black and white headshot photo of Kris Dyer.
From his agent, Suzy Wooton Voices', website: "Kris has narrated around 100 audiobooks for Audible, Penguin & RNIB talking books including titles by Neil Gaiman, Graham Swift, James Herbert, Alain de Botton, Mary Renault, Cressida Cowell and many more. His narration of the Dan Rhodes novel Little Hands Clapping was picked out by the Independent on Sunday as one of the ‘audiobooks of the summer’: “…read by the excellent Kris Dyer… you may well, embarrassingly, laugh aloud…" 

Independent on Sunday. Kris has appeared in Dr Who (Big Finish) and on BBC Radio 4 & 2. He has written comedy for Caroline Quentin, John Sessions, Simon Greenall, and Richard Herring amongst others." 

Website | Audible


~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~
Andrew Caldecott

A black and white photo of Andrew Caldecott.Andrew Caldecott is a practising barrister in media law, fantasy novelist, and occasional playwright. His play Higher than Babel was described as "impressive" by the FT and "a bold debut" by the Independent. Driven by subsequent neglect of his dramatic talents (or by the lack of them), he turned to the fantasy novel and wrote his debut, Rotherweird.



Thank you for reading. If you've listened to the Rotherweird trilogy then please add your thoughts on the series to the comments below!

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