*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 dragon: the most powerful, destructive and malevolent force known. The last thing Lynette ever wanted to get closer to – and the one thing she’s been tasked to go find.
For the first time in centuries, a dragon has been reported on the edge of the Feyfell. Homes, cities, and forests are all threatened with fiery destruction. The news has plunged the Fae Kingdom into a panic.
Desperate to know the truth behind the reports, and unable to discretely dispatch his own fae soldiers to investigate, King Elyan tasks Lynette, Baxter and Eirlon with tracking down the whereabouts and intentions of the fiery beast.
But Lynette is still only a second-year student at the Fae Academy. She has come far – but she knows she’s no Arche-Mage. Baxter is still struggling to prove his worth, hoping Lynette might see him as something more than the boy-squire she first met two years before. And Eirlon – he still hordes secrets Lynette can only suspect. A girl, a boy, and a gnome – on the hunt for a fire-breathing dragon.
The threats facing the Fae Kingdom, however, are multiplying. A traitor has set his sights on King Elyan, while the Arche-Fae Council continues to treat the Princess Elise as an outsider – an adopted daughter rather than a noblefae by birth. Hostile armies are gathering on the kingdom’s northern frontier, while the mage-turned-swordsman Garth must balance between rescuing a boy on a quest and averting a larger war.
With sightings of dragons, rumors of war, and trained assassins stalking the land, will there even be a Feyfell for Lynette to return to?
Book Two of the Stormfall Chronicles, Storm’s Cloud is an Epic Fantasy suitable for all ages.
Considerably more complex than the first, this second book in the Stormfall Chronicles series introduces a number of new characters and side plots, whilst continuing to follow the main characters of Lynette, Baxter, Eirlon and – now – Princess Elise.
I definitely recommend reading Storm’s Herald first, as that introduces the main characters and shows how their separate paths joined to form a shared interest in aiding the fae.
Plenty of aid is needed too, as enemies begin to gather on all sides: power-hungry men; spies and traitors; necromantic sorcerors and now, it appears, mythical dragons of legend, are all circling Feyfell intent on plundering its wealth and slaughtering its people. This is a war on many fronts and in many forms, keeping the tension high right up to the final page, and leaving the reader eager to know what will happen next in this epic adventure.
The main characters are well-developed and interesting. I liked seeing Eirlon’s mischievous streak, Lynette’s naivety and Baxter’s quiet loyalty as I got to know them better; their personal quirks make them seem more real and empathetic. I also liked that they still have room to develop. They are still learning their respective crafts and – far from being instant experts – can still easily be outclassed by the foes they are facing. Yet still they never give up.
A newly-introduced character, Waya, gives the author opportunity to explore some of the current social issues around gender, sex and identity. The sub-plot of Waya’s warrior aspirations, romantic troubles and self-doubt includes some overt rumination on the subject of the intersection between physical form and emotional/mental identity which was fascinating to read. I always love to see diverse representation in a story, but generally prefer it to be a little more integrated to the main plot, so that the identity of the character does not become the main focal point of their story arc.
There is a lot more action and adventure packed into this instalment of the adventure, as we plunged from beast attacks to battles, to backstabbing, without stopping to catch our breath. The excitement is definitely building as the stakes get higher and the villains more powerful! Golan’s worldbuilding is subtle and effective, and I really felt immersed in the lands and people he has created. As a bonus, there are also maps and character listings included in the book, to help the reader navigate as the story unfolds. This especially helped me to keep track of some of the more minor characters that cropped up!
There is nothing here that I would find inappropriate for younger teen readers, in fact, I feel that some of the subjects discussed (not just Waya’s journey, but the mine-slaves and the slurs against Eirlon and Elise respectively) make for great talking points with younger readers to explore important issues. In adding some educational value though, Golan has not lost sight of entertainment, and this story is an exciting and highly entertaining read. And with a cliffhanger ending, I will definitely be back for Book 3!
“[…] I haven’t had time to go through all the notes. I’ve only just skimmed the surface of them. But someone, or something on the other side of the portal gave Xythox the instructions he needed to open the gate further. This was the source of Xythox’s power. The weapons and armor he outfitted his army with, as well as the source of his staff of metamorphosis. All of it. Xythox bargained with the inhabitants on the other side of this gate, and traded favors for the means to conquer Bateria. And later, he hoped, the world.”
“What kind of favors?” Elise asked.
“I’m not entirely sure. Slaves, mostly. Subjects he would send across the portal to the other side. And various missions Xythox’s patrons seemed to have identified.
“What sort of missions?” asked Iolyn.
Eirlon hesitated. “As near as I can tell, Xythox’s patrons had one focus, one obsession they returned to and demanded above all others: the destruction of the Feyfell.”
– J.W. Golan, Storm’s Clouds