*I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and with thanks to the author. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: A peasant girl who dreams of becoming a sorceress, a boy who imagines himself a knight – trailed by a ruthless mercenary armed with an ancient sword.
All Lynette wanted was to leave her boring village life – to attend the Fae Academy and become a Druid priestess like her teacher before her. Her clumsy attempts at magic are a reminder of how much she has yet to learn. But if they would only accept her, if the Fae Kingdom – closed to human visitors for centuries now – would only just open its doors, she is certain she could become a master of the magical arts.
Yet her journey puts her on a collision course with a reawakened evil – offering a king’s ransom for the recovery of a long-lost relic. Treasure hunters of every variety – werewolves, mercenaries, common thieves and undead alike – are soon locked in pursuit of its promised riches. Together with Baxter, a young squire who fled his own kingdom, and Eirlon, a gnome who trades in rare antiquities, Lynette is drawn unwillingly into the hunt for the elusive relic.
Hounded by goblins, ogres – and darker things – Baxter carries his own burdens: secrets that have made him the enemy of the crown. And then there is Garth, the mysterious mercenary who both frightens and intrigues Lynette: the weapons-master armed with an ancient blade – snatched from the hand of a long-vanished fae prince.
Willingly or not, Lynette, Baxter and Eirlon must together solve the riddles behind the relic – and stay one step ahead of the ruthless killers that pursue them.
Book One of the Stormfall Chronicles, Storm’s Herald is an Epic Fantasy series suitable for all ages.
Storm’s Herald is the first book in the Stormfall Chronicles series and is a very promising start to an interesting high-fantasy / coming-of-age adventure.
The main characters are Lynette and Baxter, who are both apprentices – mage and warrior, respectively – and both end up striking out alone for their own compelling reasons. Their paths inevitably converge (along with that of Eirlon, a gnome sage who appears to have secrets of his own) and they begin a quest that sees them looking for answers to recent attacks and gradually beginning to realise that this may be bigger and more daunting than they thought. Like, ‘legend-in-the-making’ big!
I was a little confused about the characters at first, as a third ‘apprentice’ was introduced early on and seemed, at first, to have equal standing with the two potential adventurers. Kalden is an apprentice healer and seemed like a natural complement to the skills of the other team members, but then he suddenly drops out of the narrative, choosing a place in village life. He does pop up again later, after I had mostly forgotten about him, but more as a minor character than a significant one so far. I found this just a tiny bit unsettling for a while, as wondering about his role in the story distracted me from full immersion in the story (until, as I said, I successfully dismissed him from my mind… sorry Kalden!).
Other than that – very insignificant – quibble, I really enjoyed this book. The characters are interesting and have plenty of room to grow and develop as the story progresses. Lynette and Baxter both confounded my initial impressions of them, by having hidden depths and individual motivations, causing them to occasionally act in unexpected ways. I particularly liked this character complexity.
Similarly, while the main plot appears to be a straightforward seek-and-find quest, there are clearly undercurrents of darker magic, murkier politics, secrets and deceptions that promise an epic wider story arc as the series continues. There are different types of magic and monsters to explore, and a range of classic fantasy races – fae, werewolves, gnomes, orcs, goblins – with their legendary stereotypes and, again, actual individual, personal quirks.
There were no graphic details – violent or romantic – that would make this story unsuitable for later middle grade upwards, but the level of storytelling, world-building and character development clearly push the book into classic epic/high fantasy territory, making it ideal for adult fans of the genre too.
I can’t wait to get stuck into book two, Storm’s Clouds, to find out what happens next…!
As she made her way up the path to Delyth’s cottage, Lynette wondered if it might be too late for another lesson. The shadows were growing long. But she had remembered to pick up a message tube from town, and a merchant caravan was passing through and would be setting out for the Feygate in the morning.
Afterwards, Lynette would wonder at why she hadn’t noticed how the birds and insects were strangely quiet as she approached the cottage. But at the time, she was too lost in her own thoughts to realize something was amiss.
– J.W. Golan, Storm’s Herald
Storm’s Herald is available on Amazon right now!