The Winter Boy

The Winter Boy

by Sally Wiener Grotta


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780988387133
Publisher: Pixel Hall Press
Publication date: 11/06/2014
Pages: 496
Product dimensions: 6.60(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

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The Winter Boy 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
briemarie77 More than 1 year ago
Sally Wiener Grotta is one of my favorite authors since I began blogging. I previously read Jo Joe which was by far amazingly written and the same goes for The Winter Boy. I enjoy the development of the characters throughout the story. The plot is well written with many insights that are offered throughout the story that are related to our world. I highly recommend The Winter Boy along with Sally’s prior work. 
DaynaLC More than 1 year ago
Review of ‘The Winter Boy’ – ‘Reviews by Dayna’ The fantasy culture in ‘The Winter Boy’ is, as expected, unique. In the Valley of the Alleshi, the women, specifically the widows, train the young men as Allemen, the leaders. The overriding desire is for ‘Peace’, the counterpoint to ‘Before’, when there was chaos. The culture uses multiple names for people. Rishanna, a recent widow and new Allesha, looks forward to her First Season, when she’ll choose and train her Winter Boy. But, something’s afoot. Dara, her mentor, is subtly pressuring her to choose Ryl of the Battai, who is different from the other young men. She relents, dismissing her concerns, and accepts Dara’s choice as her trainee. This is the story of Ryl’s training, and the ever-increasing indications that there’s trouble brewing - a threat to the ‘Peace’, and that Ryl is in danger. At first, Ryl, now named Dov, bucks Rishanna, now named Tayar, constantly, but soony, he realizes the training is important for his future. In time, Rishanna/Tayar can no longer deny the conspiracy, and investigates, alarmed at her findings. Is there anyone she can trust? Then, an Allesha is dead, and guns are missing from the warehouse, along with some relics from ‘Before’. Can Rishanna/Tayar, with Ryl/Dov’s help, root out the problems, or will the ‘Peace’ collapse and the chaos return? A well-written book, with a great story, and wonderful characters, I found just one flaw. From the point where Ryl/Dov’s training begins, the pace drags until Rishanna/Tayar decides to stop denying the conspiracy and starts investigating. Otherwise, I’d definitely recommend this wonderful book to others. I give ‘The Winter Boy’ 4.5 stars. Dayna Leigh Cheser Author of Janelle’s Time, Moria’s Time & Adelle’s Time
Charline_Ratcliff_Author More than 1 year ago
I’ve recently finished reading The Winter Boy by author, Sally Wiener Grotta. From the very beginning of this story I was impressed by Grotta’s nearly impeccable writing. The Winter Boy is certainly not Grotta’s first foray into the world of writing, and this fact is clearly evident throughout the entire book. Grotta writes with an easy-to-follow and easy-to-understand style. She has formulated this tale with flair; she’s appropriately descriptive with the scenes and/or the personal interactions, and the various characters are believable and certainly easy to empathize with. In The Winter Boy, readers will begin their literary journey in the “Valley of the Alleshi,” a valley that is set in an age far removed from the one in which we live today. Rishana, one of this story’s main characters, has almost finished the three years’ worth of training she needs in order to become one of the highly respected and much sought after Alleshi. The life of an Alleshi was not Rishana’s original life path, but fate and circumstance had entwined and this new path is what came to fruition because of fate’s choices. Existing during the chronological ages found within The Winter Boy, are the Alleshi:  a group of women who, at the start of every new season, pick older boys who are nearing maturity – bringing them into their personal lives and dwellings. Each Alleshi will choose just one such boy and she will then spend that entire season training and grooming him, using knowledge and sexual intimacy – skills and lessons that have been honed to perfection and then passed down through the centuries by the many Alleshi women who have come before Rishana. For this ‘winter’ season (her very first as a fully titled Alleshi), Rishana chooses to take Ryl, an exceptionally head-strong and willful boy, into her home. In doing so, she internally hopes that she possesses the needed strength and skills that will be required to fully unlock the true potential of the leader he could become. Of course, in the Valley of the Alleshi, all is not as it seems – over the years the seeds of discord and discontent have been willfully and knowingly sewn. Without warning, tempers boil hotly before violently exploding. The shock, and aftershocks, of unforeseen and horrific actions against the Alleshi now threaten to shatter the peace that this valley, and its neighboring towns and villages, have experienced for the last several centuries. And that’s all of the ‘about’ information that I’m going to provide – the remainder will need to be gleaned via reading the actual book. In summary, though, The Winter Boy was a great book. As I had previously mentioned, it was well-written, and it was also interesting and entertaining. While The Winter Boy didn’t have the ending that I’d secretly hoped for, it’s certainly in the ‘must read’ category for anyone who enjoys a cultural fantasy set in the ‘long ago’ of a more prehistoric past – or, one that is actually set in a far distant future that uses today’s day and age as that ‘prehistoric’ and ‘barbaric’ past.
ToManyBooksNotEnoughTime More than 1 year ago
A Challenging, and Rewarding, Read I would like to thank Pixel Hall Press & NetGalley for granting me a copy of this e-book to read in exchange for an honest review. Though I received this e-book for free that in no way impacts my review. Goodreads Teaser: "Reminiscent of Margaret Atwood, Mary Doria Russell and Ursula K. LeGuin, The Winter Boy explores important political and social issues within a dynamic, character-driven otherworld, wrapped up in masterful storytelling.  The Valley of the Alleshi is the center of all civilization, the core and foundation of centuries of peace. A cloistered society of widows, the Alleshi, has forged a peace by mentoring young men who will one day become the leaders of the land. Each boy is paired with a single Allesha for a season of intimacy and learning, using time-honored methods that include storytelling, reason and sex. However, unknown to all but a hidden few, the peace is fracturing from pressures within and beyond, hacking at the very essence of their civilization. Amidst this gathering political maelstrom, Rishana, a young new idealistic Allesha, takes her First Boy, Ryl, for a winter season of training. But Ryl is a “problem boy,” who fights Rishana every step of the way. At the same time, Rishana uncovers a web of conspiracies that could not only destroy Ryl, but threaten to tear their entire society apart. And a winter that should have been a gentle, quiet season becomes one of conflict, anger and danger." This book will make you think, whether you want to or not. It is an extremely well crafted story, with only a few places where the pace became too slow for me, but those lulls never lasted too long. And frankly they likely gave me much needed respite from the intensity of the story, the emotions within it, and that it brought out within me. Rishana is in many ways the true embodiment of "Every Woman," which is what Allesha means. Through her journey we watch and experience a vast range of emotions as the comfortable layers she has wrapped herself in are painfully peeled away. All that she knew and believed in is slowly being taken from her, but in such a way as to leave her trapped within a system that is nothing like she'd been taught it was, and had built it up to be. In her own way Rishanna goes through many of the same Stages as Ryl, though she doesn't seem to be aware of it. Of course her experiences are different, and she wasn't trained to deal with her own emotional journey, but rather the journey of her boy for each season. During the course of these revelations she also must deal with her First Boy. Ryl is an angry youth, a "problem boy." The kind of boy Rishanna had been trained to work with. And there is something more to this boy, a dangerous secret that has been kept from them both. The information, when it comes out, has the power to destroy lives. Yet it may be the one thing that can save all their lives, not too mention their way of life. The only way to know for sure is to stay alive long enough to see which card comes up next in the hand they've been dealt, and to trust that the foundation Rishanna has built with Ryl is strong enough to withstand the blows he will be dealt.  The lessons are taught both through what Rishanna teaches Ryl over the course of his Season with her, and through the books that they read to each other on the cold winter nights. It makes for an interesting combination, and keeps things from getting too mired down in the rules and regulations of the Alleshi and the Alleshine Peace. As the characters evolve, which happens to both teacher and student, so to do the lessons contained within the stories they read. Emotional attachments are a tricky topic, for sex is used as a teaching method, so teacher and pupil are bound to grow close, and risk becoming too attached. That may be more of a risk with the problem boys, as the emotions are likely to run higher and hotter, but it also makes the rewards that much sweeter. Of course, as Ryl is her first boy, Rishanna has no prior experience to gauge the situation by, only the advise of her mentor. But the fractions taking place within the Alleshi Valley are taking place between individuals as well. Does Rishanna dare to trust Dara to give her honesty, or will Dara continue to try to manipulate and mold her into what she feels is best for the Alleshi? Framing these lessons is the issue of a violent nomadic people who destroy every village they encounter, slaughtering every person, down to the last infant. How do people of peace protect themselves from such violence without becoming the same as the aggressor? And what happens when those who are at the very heart of that peace have different ideas on how to protect the peace? It is through the questions that Ryl constantly asks, as well as the way Rishana questions the motives of the Alleshi themselves, that we learn the lessons Ms. Grotta is trying to impart. How do you cope when the very foundations of your world are stripped away? What is your response to discovering that those you trusted most have manipulated you into a specific position? Can you continue forward, and trying to fix the system from within, or do you make a break and start a new system using only those pieces of the original method that match your ideals? Should only a few possess the real power, or should it be spread more widely? How do you stay vigilant enough to spot stress fractures before they become cracks and risk breaking away, or worse yet, breaking the entire system? These are just a few of the questions that the characters will be confronted with, and the reader along with them. This book will have you challenging not only the concepts within the story, but also concepts you've always accepted. With just a few decisive words Ms. Grotta will have you questioning the very bedrock of your own personal beliefs, and testing the strength of that foundation. Is your history everything you thought it was? Is there more going on behind the scenes? How did you end up where you are now? Was it of your own choosing or were you subtly manipulated into your position? These questions, and more, we should probably never stop asking ourselves. Never simply accept the surface view as being all there is. Just because it is the status quo now doesn't mean it should remain that way, does it? And of course how do you confront violence and survive, without becoming as bad as the aggressor?
trulynightwing More than 1 year ago
Sally Wiener Grotta's The Winter Boy is one of the most refreshing stories I have read this year. It is the tale of a group of widows, Allesha, who teach boys how to be peaceful and caring men. They do this by teaching reason, use of dialogue, and training in sexual intimacy. The men then return to their old lives newly inspired to keep the peace and work with others to maintain a unified world. It would seem to be an idyllic life, people living together in peace, working together toward common ends, each community adding to the whole. This could make for a very boring book, there seems to be no strife, each community supplies and takes, in a equilateral bartering system. Everyone loves everyone and nobody has to fight for anything. Well not really.It is much more. It is a tale of internal strife (some members do not want the peace as it now exists) and external conflict (an enemy who slaughters strictly for the sake of slaughter). As may be expected, some boys rebel against the training more than others. When Rishana, a new Allesha, takes Ryl for a winter season of training, he fights her every step of the way. Together, as they learn to work with one another, they uncover truths that threaten to tear their entire society apart. Through it all, one learns that Ryl is not exactly who he has always believed himself to be. He could be the savior of his whole world, or its destruction. I can barely wait until the next book to see which.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A large colony of widows live together in a seemingly peaceful valley. Unknown to our heroine, there are hidden factions of unrest. They have converted many surrounding villages to their way of life, but still there is a fiercely warring faction that is intent on their destruction. The women attract young men to their world by using sexuality, gradually teaching them to read body language, and training them to become protectors of their hard-won peace. They read books together which explain how their peaceful valley came to exist, stories which deeply touch their souls. The young men are trained to respect women, become their equals, and finally their physical protectors. An immensely powerful story, filled with deep humanity, I didn't wank the book to end.
gaele More than 1 year ago
Quite unlike anything else I have read, this second book from Sally Weiner Grotta is multi-faceted, complex and wholly intriguing.  Not quite dystopian, as the events are after but housing is rustic and devoid of technology, not wholly science fiction as the spiritual elements seem to be well-grounded from many cultures now on earth.  There is an other-worldliness in this society that is female-dominant, but wholly nurturing to the males.   The story centers on the Valley of the Alleshi, and its newly trained Rishana and her “first boy’ Ryl.  The women in this story have a complex task: they are to raise the boys with the knowledge and acceptance of peace and cooperation, taken wholly by the women. The goal is for them to become the guardians of the peace, having obtained the knowledge and spiritual enlightenment necessary to understand the necessity of their role. And from here, the story winds through a journey of enlightenment and learning: both for the young Ryl and his widowed mentor Rishana.  This is a coming of age story that shows growth and learning from more than one character: Ryl is brash, confident and recalcitrant, not always willing or interested in what is being taught.  Rishana needs to use several different approaches to bring him to find his own ‘self’ beneath the bravado and brashness that is earlier displayed, and it tests her skills and determination to not lose patience or show her frustrations.  A trail through several inserts of spiritual beliefs and approaches to learning are brought in to the story, and several secondary characters are introduced as well as a thread of discontent that is festering in this apparently utopian society.  Here I had some problems with the story as names changed repeatedly depending on who was interacting, and it wasn’t until about halfway through the book that the voices of Ryl and Rishana were solidly imprinted on my mind, making the name changes almost unnoticeable.  What I have come to see as a trademark from this author is her gentle unfolding of the story, creating threads of warp and weft that disappear and reappear as needed, building the characters, setting and plot in a textured and layered form.  Hers are not a quick reading book, it takes time to savor and enjoy, allow the prose to make its connection in your mind, and ready you for the next revelation.  What emerges is a story that is rich in detail and character, with lingering questions about conflict, utopia, teaching and the roles that every member of society has in contributing to those elements.  I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. All conclusions are my own responsibility. 
notrow1 More than 1 year ago
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publishers through Netgally in return for an honest review. First of all, I love the cover! Secondly, this is an intriguing, thought provoking and highly enthralling read! I loved it! Rishana is a young widow, who has been training to become an Alleshi, a type of teacher and mentor, to young men from the villages surrounding their valley. I really liked this woman. She is very determined and driven to help, but quite naive at times. I loved watching her learn and grow as an Allesha (I'm not really sure how to pronounce it i.e. Alle-sha or All-e-sha), along with her Winter Boy. Ryl is a hotheaded young man of eighteen, who is proud to be chosen as a Winter Boy to become an Aleman (a type of diplomat). He is a very likable and charming character, and I loved watching him blossom into a confident young man. But, his life is about to change forever when secrets long held are revealed. I was intrigued with the blurb, but as I started to read this book, I was unprepared for the emotional roller coaster I was to be taken on; I was hooked from the first page. I was impressed with the world building, but I couldn't tell how far into the future this book was set. The characters talk about a time before the Great Chaos, so I knew it was post-apocalyptic due to mention of war and modern weapons such as guns. However, it had a tribal feel to it, similar to what I would think of as Native American and other cultures with similar belief systems mixed in to give it a multicultural feel, but based on peace. These tribes live in small villages with different names for the people who lived in them, such as the Mukane, Emet and Birani. There is also a group of people called the Mwertik, who are attacking the villages with no apparent reason. The other characters in this story were very interesting too. The Alleshi of the valley have their own characteristics and temperaments, and keep their own secrets. This story is not a fast read by any means, nor is it my usual genre, but it is totally absorbing. The changing names of the characters (depending on who was speaking to whom - other Allesha or family members) were a bit confusing at times, which gave me a bit of a headache trying to remember them all and keep them straight. The lessons between Tayar (Ryl's name for Rishana) and Dov (Rishana's name for Ryl) range from the domestic to sexual, philosophical and political. I loved watching Tayar's and Dov's relationship develop, but it was the undercurrent of political intrigue that wended through the tale that kept me on the edge of my seat. The women of the Alleshi teach about peace and trade, rather than war and death, but when one of their own becomes jaded and makes a rash decision, their way of life is threatened. Meanwhile, Ryl/Dov finds out that his life is not all it seems, and that he has a difficult destiny ahead of him. The end of the book left me feeling rather sad, but happy too; it was bittersweet, as both Ryl and Rishana have to make difficult decisions about their future. I don't know if the author is going to continue to follow Rishana's life, or Ryl's, but I hope there will be another book, because I want to know if Ryl manages to contact the Mwertik successfully. Sally Wiener Grotta has written an intriguing tale with a unique premise. Her writing style is not particularly fast paced, but it is very descriptive. I did feel that the flow of the story was interrupted by the various names used for the characters. If she had kept her characters to one name and the pet names for Rishana and Ryl, it may have flowed more smoothly. Nevertheless, I think I would definitely read more of this author's books in the future. I highly recommend this book to adults who love deeply enthralling post-apocalyptic fiction with a philosophical twist. - Lynn Worton