Dolor and Shadow by Angela B. Chrysler
With first-rate world building, in-depth character development, and layers of political drama and warfare, this epic saga of warring Nordic clans captivated me.
The brutalities of war, which unfortunately, included children as casualties, were not glossed over, nor dwelt upon to the point of being violence just for the sake of violence. People's deaths affected the main characters in realistic, deep, and debilitating ways. A good portion of the narrative focused on one character's, Kallan's, struggle to cope with the atrocities she'd been a witness to and victim of.
Kallan's plight is the central focus of the story but, as allies and foes protect and pursue her, mysteries of the lands through which she travels and of the people who inhabit them unravel to reveal subplots steeped in myth and magic.
With an ending that's just the beginning, I will be first in line for Volume 2.