Review: The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams

The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams

Timy reviews The Ninth Rain, the first book in The Winnowing Flame trilogy by Jen Williams.

This review is posted as part of the Wyrd & Wonder Month hosted by some amazing ladies. Check out all content on TwitterInstagram, and BlueSky!

Wyrd & Wonder 2024
Artwork by Ehtisham Sajid
About the Book
Series:The Winnowing Flame #1
Genre:Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Science Fantasy
Publisher:Headline Book Publishing
Date of Publishing:February 23, 2017
Trigger Warnings:Death, blood, fight
Page count:544

Possible fit for The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge 2024 prompts:

Joker prompt that goes with anything: Now We Are Free

Anywhere Away From HereKiss My Ass
HandwrittenYou Are My Home
PsychoSummer Jam
AddictedNew Song
The MysticSay It
Queen of KingsThe Legend of Mother Swan
Accidentally in LoveThrough Glass
White FlagRoad to Joy
Sob StoryGive That Wolf a Banana
Always HalloweenKill Your Conscience
TherapyGhosts & Monsters
Low LifeChasing Stars
Book Blurb
The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams

The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the realm of his storied ancestors falls to pieces – talk about a guilt trip. Better to be amongst the living, where there are taverns full of women and wine.

When eccentric explorer, Lady Vincenza ‘Vintage’ de Grazon, offers him employment, he sees an easy way out. Even when they are joined by a fugitive witch with a tendency to set things on fire, the prospect of facing down monsters and retrieving ancient artefacts is preferable to the abomination he left behind.

But not everyone is willing to let the Eboran empire collapse, and the adventurers are quickly drawn into a tangled conspiracy of magic and war. For the Jure’lia are coming, and the Ninth Rain must fall…

Quote of the Book
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“Tor made a point of looking around, his hands on his hips. ‘Judging by the constellations just starting to glint into life, the scent of the wind and the texture of the earth . . . I would say we’re precisely in the middle of nowhere.’”

Song of the Book

When I tried to pick a song, nothing came to mind, so I thought I’d go to my Spotify, look through my liked songs playlist, and see what shakes down. When I opened it, there was a song about to play – one I don’t know and I think it came up due to something I listened to when I last opened Spotify on my PC. Anyway. There it was I’m Dangerous by TheEverlove, and you know what? It happens to fit to the book, so hey, easiest song hunt ever. Actually, I think it fits Noon, specifically. I’m good with that.


I think pretty much since I joined the blogging community, the friends I made along the way kept saying that I needed to read The Winnowing Flame trilogy. I even got my hands on paperback copies (thanks, Dan!) and ebook copies and I kept saying that I’ll get to it someday. But I honestly wasn’t sure if I ever would. There were always other books to read that I wanted to get to more, and then there was the size of these books (they are huge, I know, I had to pack them in my small suitcase, lol), and also the fact that I’m not a big fan of epic fantasy. So I kept procrastinating. When I set up my challenges and shortened TBR for 2024, I decided it was time to tackle this series finally. So I reached out to a friend, who also happens to be one of the organizers for Wyrd & Wonder Month, asking if they’d consider doing a readalong for The Ninth Rain. Turns out, I was a couple of years late, as they already did the whole trilogy. Whoops. But she was happy to join me in a buddy read and we attracted others to our cause, so at least I wasn’t alone in my quest.

The Ninth Rain is not my first novel by Jen Williams, as I very recently read her latest release, The Hungry Dark. Though, admittedly, that was a thriller and not fantasy, but my point is, that it gave me confidence as her writing style worked for me there, so I couldn’t see how it wouldn’t in her older work. And I was right. Despite the size of the world within, the number of pages and characters, I found myself very engaged with it all. What really hooked me, though, were the little excerpts of Vintage’s letters and journals at the start of the chapters. Not only because of the clever way of worldbuilding happening within them, but also because of Vintage’s voice. They always made me look forward to having a Vintage-focused chapter, as I absolutely loved her personality and sass. A woman after my own heart. Can’t say I agreed with all of her decisions, though. But then, no one is perfect.

There is a lot happening in this book, so obviously I’m not going to talk about everything, because this would end up an even longer review than the ones I usually write. Let’s just say, The Ninth Rain ticks a lot of boxes – slow-burn romance? Tick. High stakes? Tick. Cool worldbuilding? Tick. Diverse characters? Tick. Alien sentient creatures that might awake? Tick. Magic? Tick. Flawed characters? Tick. Cult-like organization? Tick. I probably could go on, but you get the idea. I’m pretty sure everyone will find something to love about this book. The world building is flawless and there are no info dumps, which is a small miracle given how many races, characters, and plotlines are woven into this book.

As for me, it took me a while to warm up to this book, and honestly, Vintage was the biggest reason I stuck to it. And then I got hooked by Noon’s escape, Tor’s dry humor, and the mystery of Ebora. The pace was a bit slow, to begin with, but the last third went by in a blur. I kept listening/turning the pages (depending on what format I was on at any given moment), because I wanted to know how it was going to end. I had a couple of suspicions regarding Ygseril and the parasite spirits, specifically, that got proven right which made me immensely pleased with myself. Williams did an excellent job leaving hints all along. Actually, she did an excellent job throughout and I honestly can see why she has so many loyal fans among my friends. I can feel myself slowly becoming one as well.

One of the reasons it took me a while to get into The Ninth Rain was that I found the narrator of the audiobook very distracting. And while I got used to him toward the end (I listened to a big chunk of the book as it was easier to fit into my schedule), I still felt like a different narrator could have done a better job bringing this vast world into life. I’ll be thinking very hard about whether I want to get the next two books in audiobook because of this, which is a shame, because I could be done with the trilogy in a much shorter time than otherwise.

The Ninth Rain is an excellent start to a trilogy that promises to be epic in the best possible way. I, for one, can’t wait to find out what these characters have in store for them. That ending made it nearly impossible not to want to jump on the next book, and as someone who usually tends to find themselves being disappointed by endings, I have to admit that Williams definitely made this one stick. She might even make me reconsider my stand on epic fantasy in the long run. I’m up to the challenge!

Our Judgement
Let Their Deeds Be Noted - 4 Crowns

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