Book Review: Strange of Tempest by Tom Lloyd 4.5 Stars

2 words: MAGE GUNS

Stranger of Tempest is an epic fantasy with a heavy dose of… modernish warfare? (due to guns). The mage-guns use element-based ammo forged by mages, who have been coerced into service by various religious military orders (think Knights Templars or other crusade-era religious armies).

The protagonist, a middle-aged war veteran, is a skilled sharpshooter. He was also on the wrong side of the war and was imprisoned when he called out his own army’s cruelty. Apart from a small handful of flashbacks, he is NOT in prison during this book, and I won’t reveal too many details of his past. I will say that one fascinating thing about him is his obsession with reading. Since he can only keep what he can carry, he always keeps one book. And once he’s read it, he sells it and buys another. An incredibly human trait in a person you might expect to be hardened.

The story follows Lynx (the veteran), Sitain (a mage he rescues from a militant order), and the mercenary crew known as “the Cards.” They’re on the run from the militant order that wanted to kidnap Sitain. Their chase leads them through a city, tunnels inhabited by a 3-gendered 4-armed race, and ancient ruins full of unholy terrors. It leans much farther toward adventurous than horrific, and YES, the terrifying behemoth on the cover does make an EPIC appearance.

Also, just look at that cover. There’s something psychologically stimulating about the man’s posture (it’s similar to Wanderer above the Sea of Fog which, in turn, inspired many movie posters).

Overall, a fine read. Some parts got a little too much on the sexual detail, and if you’re not paying attention the time jumping can get disorienting, but the balance between action, adventure, and especially empathy for these characters make it very much worth the read!

Booyah!

-Thomas Fawkes

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Book Review: Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson – 5 stars

Warbreaker is a wonderful stand-alone epic fantasy.

There are 4 main POV’s, two sister princesses (one refined, one irreverent), a god returned from the dead, and a mysterious vagabond with a talking sword and a mysterious agenda.

Brandon Sanderson does an excellent job building out his characters, who all sound unique and have their own strengths. Often, writers (mostly male) want to imply that “strong female characters” are well-written female characters, but often they just come across as “tough-as-nails, no-nonsense, butt-kicking female character.” (I also hate when male characters are written as 2-dimensional butt-kickers with little variance. Too much emphasize on the physical aspects of “strong.”)

 V.E. Schwab (https://twitter.com/veschwab/) a female fantasy author, was asked in a panel “How do you write strong female characters?” She explained about how first, she hates that people ask her that question. “Do you ask how men write strong male characters?” and also how it’s not some magic mumbo-jumbo, just treat them like PEOPLE. Like fully-fleshed out human beings (not objects or plot devices, that should be obvious). She said “I treat all my characters as people. End of story.”

Sanderson does that here. The sisters and the god returned from the dead are not warriors. The sisters have very different strengths (emotional understanding, drive, talent for magic, a keen eye for detail), and they are placed in situations which at first seem opposite to their ability, but after some struggle and growth it turns out that their strengths are PERFECT for where they were put.

The last POV character, the mysterious vagabond with the talking sword, gets the fewest number of POV’s. He keeps you guessing about who he is and what he wants.

Sanderson masterfully executes a few paradigm shifts throughout the course of the novel. Characters question their faith, see things in a new light, and learn that nothing is as it seems.

I’ve talked at a very high level, which is mostly what I intend to do. The simplest way to describe it is that a princess is sent off to marry the God-king in order to maintain peace, and her sister goes to rescue her. While in the background bigger forces are at worth that threaten all kingdoms.

Great character development, great dialogue, great action. I recommend!