Tuesday, July 30, 2013

AWWC 2013: The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke

The Last Stormlord, Book One in Glenda  Larke's The Watergivers trilogy introduces the reader to a world where water is the currency. The Stormlord is dying and without a successor with the same ability to capture clouds from the ocean and bring them inland to deposit rain where it is needed - critical for the survival of the people of the Quartern - the water supply cannot be guaranteed. While there are many water sensitives of varying capacity, the ability to move clouds is rare and none of the younger generation of Rain Lords can do it. The only hope is to find a new sensitive outside the traditional families and so a desperate search begins with the lives of all at risk.

Of the two main characters, Shale Flint, son of an outcast family scraping a bare living, is a water sensitive with strong but limited ability who finds himself caught up at the centre of political intrigue. He's not the only one who wants to escape his situation. In a city snuggery, Terelle Grey, a young girl indentured to the brothel owner, is nearing the age when her education is over and she will have to start work to pay off her water debt. Terelle has no desire to follow her sister into the brothel and when the opportunity comes to escape she seizes it. But nothing is simple in the cities of the Quartern and life for both Shale and Terelle is about to change in unexpected ways. By the end of the book, these young, idealistic protagonists have been forced by to mature by harsh experience.

The author gives us a richly imagined world, carrying the reader into a desert where you can almost taste the dryness and the dust. While I loved the pedes - giant, intelligent millipedes trained as pack and riding animals - for the delightfully exotic touch they bring, like everything else in this novel, they are so well written they are entirely believable.

It's not all setting though. This is a wide-reaching story, multi-layered with complex politics ranging from self interest to selfless service and with a whole raft of other major characters, all drawn with the same attention to detail. No-one is stereotypically good or bad here. They are all rounded and believable - even if you might want to shake some sense into one in particular at some points.

I loved this book. At 600 plus pages it's not a short read but it gripped me so much that I read it in less than a day. My family can attest to the fact that I was carrying it around and reading even as I prepared dinner. The only problem I had with it was having to wait for the next book in the trilogy, given it ends with such a cliff hanger.

In my opinion this trilogy is Glenda Larke's finest work to date. I highly recommend it. I'll put up reviews of the other two books later.

The Last Stormlord is available from Amazon.com as a paperback and e-book.

Glenda Larke blogs at Tropic Temper and her website is here


Friday, July 26, 2013

AWWC 2013: Daughter of Hope by Joanna Fay

In Siaris, a world contained under the outer shell of a planet, life is a continual battle between the winged Guardians, an immortal race, created eons ago and imbued with magical spell powers and the Morraeth. In an eternally snow and sleet swept fortress with an endless need for slaves captured from among elden, another immortal race less resilient than the Guardians, and humans, these ancient gods are served by the traitor Guardian, Xereth. Fuelled by an implacable hatred for his family he has allied himself with their enemies, becoming the lieutenant of their fortress.

Life in the fortress is as bleak and cruel as the eternal winter that surrounds it and those who live within it, whether they are half Guardian, human or elden, are all slaves to the Morraeth.

But something unexpected has happened in the Morraeth fortress. An elden slave is about to give birth to Xereth's child. Revetia (her self-chosen name means daughter of hope) is a unplanned child who should never have been conceived and her birth signals changes - for her siblings, her father, the Morraeth and her extended family.

On her website the author says the world of Siaris has been part of her imagination since she was a young girl and it shows in the way she evokes the brutal, freezing land of the Morraeth as cleverly as she does the more gentle world of the other parts of Siaris. Her language is lyrical, almost poetic, but never slips that step too far so we lose a sense of reality. Revetia's story is part of the larger one of Siaris and in a wide-ranging story where old wounds fuel actions that affect the whole of the world she is a catalyst for change.

I loved this book. The beautifully described world with its rich detail, the well drawn characters and the complex and satisfying story line drew me in and I was delighted to find it was only the first of a quartet of stories. I will certainly be revisiting Siaris.

Daughter of Hope was published by Urania, the fantasy imprint of Musa Publishing, in 2012 and is available as an e-book from Amazon.com and Musa  Publishing.

Joanna Fay blogs at her website here.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Blogs That Have Something to Say To Me

This is by no means a definitive or complete list but these are just a few of the blogs I check in on at least once a week, often more frequently. They're all, in my opinion, worth a look at for many and varied reasons. Some are writing related, some are social commentators - some are both as you'll see if you visit them, some are genre related and some are simply people blogging about things that catch my interest. I enjoy them all because they make me think or entertain me. I hope they do the same for you. They are in alphabetical order by title for ease of listing, not because of any particular importance.

A Conversational Life: My Life in Family, Friends and Books

Baroque in Hackney

Champagne and Socks

Hoyden About Town

Jim C. Hines

Jo, on Food, My Travels and a Scent of Chocolate

Peter M. Ball

Satima Flavell

Stitching Words, One Thread at a Time

The Bloggess

Tropic Temper


Yarn Harlot

There are, of course, many more blogs I visit - and enjoy - regularly but this post is already quite long enough so I'll do another with more at some time in the future.