I read this book when I was young. There were two books in the series.

The main character was a mage who never finished his training. The second book revealed that he accidentally killed a frog with magic and put up mental blocks. He frees a woman with ten magical rings and who lived multiple lives from an evil ice elemental. I can't remember much more than that except for small details, like they couldn't work magic over water.

  • Hi, welcome to the site. In roughly which year/s did you read these books and when do you think they might've been published? Dec 16, 2023 at 7:53
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1 Answer 1


This seems to be The Winter King's War, a trilogy of books by Susan Dexter.

The protagonist, Tristan, is a mostly unsuccessful apprentice to the mage Blais. Tristan is flung out into the world when Blais is suddenly killed in a magical attack by Nimir, and undertakes a quest to free Allaire, a princess bespelled hundreds of years previously who is prophesied to be able to defeat Nimir.

Allaire has nine rings, but the prophecy states she will gain a tenth that will give her the power to fight Nimir.

Wizards in this world have a great deal of difficulty crossing running water; even stepping across a stream can make Tristan dizzy and crossing a river is enough to make him sick. Running water is also a barrier to magic, and crossing a stream is enough to help hide from magical searchers.

In the first book, The Rings of Allaire (1981), Tristan meets Elisena, a serving-woman at the fortress Radak, who helps them escape a trap laid by the castle's lord, Galan. Elisena reveals herself to be the true Allaire, cursed by Nimir to live and die over and over, while heroes seek the decoy Allaire (her lady-in-waiting Ariana) and are killed by Nimir. Tristan gives her his ring, and she becomes Allaire of the ten rings in truth.

Nimir isn't necessarily an ice elemental, but is an inimical spirit bound to cold and endless winter, and as his power waxes the land gets colder, winters get longer, the growing season shrinks, and people and animals get hungrier.

There are three books though, not just two, but it's possible you only read the second (The Sword of Calandra, 1985) and third (The Mountains of Channadran, 1986) books of the trilogy since you don't recall Allaire having nine rings.

Aha. The bit about a toad that Tristan spells, messes up and destroys, forming the guilt that blocked him from his true ability with magic, is dealt with at the climax of the third book, when Tristan is directly facing the crystal heart of Nimir in its glacier home.

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