I originally reviewed Stormlord Rising for the now defunct e-zine, The Specusphere. This is an edited version of that review.
In Stormlord Rising, Book Two of her Watergivers trilogy, Glenda Larke again takes us into dry lands of the Quartern where water is scarce and the populace has relied on the skills of the water sensitive to bring a fair distribution of rain to all. Now everything has changed.
This sequel to the The Last Stormlord does not disappoint. The richly imagined landscape carries us into a desert land where water need governs every aspect of life from politics to religion. The economy itself runs on water tokens and to be waterless – to have no regular allocation of water - means a hand to mouth existence of exploitation in the worst jobs just to survive. There are resonances with the drying climate in many parts of the world and Larke raises issues relevant to many societies such as how do we ensure a fair supply of water to everyone and what sort of decisions should be made to ensure that this happens.
But this book is about more than setting, impressive though that is. The characters drive the story. Jasper and Terelle are young, learning and changing as they mature. They both come from where life is hard and not much more than bare survival but they refuse to settle for that - or any of the paths others set out for them. With a sense of duty and honour that comes from within - and often conflicts with the pressures put on them - they face hard decisions and sometimes make mistakes but this is what makes them real. Well developed, and with both strengths and weaknesses, they continue to grow.
Although Jasper and Terelle are major characters there are others and much of this book is Ryka’s story. While Ryka’s devotion to her husband and child leads her to accept what would otherwise be intolerable, she never loses her spirit. Intelligent, brave and capable, she manages to manipulate her situation and she too grows in stature and humanity. In fact I found her more likable as she works at survival because at the same time she acquires a degree of empathy for some unlikely others.
Larke does not make the mistake of giving us one dimensional villains either. They may be brutal, selfish or self serving but they always have more to them than that. We may not like them, even in one case be utterly repelled by them, but we can see what drives them and that they, like the SS guards who went home from the camps to be loving family men, have some human qualities.
The other characters too are well developed. Whatever their motivation – hero, villain or just living life as best they can - they all have human qualities that make them rounded and believable.
With a complex plot and some intriguing twists that augur well for the next book, Stormlord Rising will appeal to anyone who enjoys a well written fantasy. There are very few books that I find literally impossible to put down but like its predecessor, The Last Stormlord, Stormlord Rising was one. I read each in single marathon sessions and I was not surprised when it was shortlisted in the 2010 Aurealis Awards.
Stormlord Rising is available from Amazon.com as a paperback and as an e-book.
Glenda Larke blogs at Tropic Temper and you can find out more about her and her work at http://glendalarke.com
Something weird is happening to comments on this blog. They seem to be disappearing. I get an email, hit publish - and that's the last I see of them. So if anyone has tried to comment and hasn't succeeded, I apologise. I'll keep fiddling with the settings until they are working.
It's been a pretty rotten winter as far as health has been concerned so far. Pisces and I have both been sick, not always at the same time although we did manage two weeks together when we were both very sorry for ourselves. A few weeks ago I thought we had seemed to have turned the corner now, at least as far as seasonal viruses are concerned but no. If there's something around to catch I have managed to catch it. When you factor in my long-running - and yet to be found a solution to - ailments, it hasn't been much fun at all. With luck we will be spared the 'flu having both had our 'flu shots but with the possibility of multiple surgeries still hanging over my head - when and how I have no idea as yet given there are more specialists to be consulted - I hope you'll forgive me if I sound a little pessimistic at times.
It's not only health issues. In the last week we've discovered a massive leak in the garage which in itself wouldn't matter all that much except that it's where we have stored a large amount our household stuff in preparation for the new floors being laid and it's going to have to slowly fester away until the weather clears.
In the spirit of the way life is around here just now I give you this link. Thanks, Annalou, for reminding me about it.
Reunion, the sequel to Daughter of Hope, the first book in the Siaris quartet, continues the wide-ranging story of the magical world of Siaris. Despite its beauty and the Immortal Guardians who spend their lives protecting it, evil continually battles for control and it's not only the Morraeth the Guardians have to worry about. Cultural differences are causing growing rifts between them and the others they care for.
In Reunion, we learn more about the world of Siaris and the sprawling and fascinating stories of its inhabitants. Clever, multi-layered world building draws us into the complexity of life on the planet and the lives of all those who live there. There is magic but it is not always the best or even the only option. Vividly drawn, rounded characters make their own choices, whether for good or ill, for reasons that are entirely believable. Added to this, the author's use of language is beautiful and evocative with a lyrical rhythm that I found a joy to read.
This is rich fantasy but don't mistake that for soft. The author's eye for realistic detail lifts it above most similar works. I recommend it highly and am waiting impatiently for Book Three in the series.
Reunion was published by Urania, the fantasy imprint of Musa Publishing, in February, 2013 and is available as an e-book from Amazon.com and the publisher.