This is the last volume of a three-part fantasy story set in a world where water is the most precious and scarce resource, and the population are entirely dependent on a small group of people born with special powers over water for their survival.
None of these novels really stand on their own, they are three parts of one substantial story which must be read in the right order and consists of
1) The Last Stormlord (Stormlord 1)
2) Stormlord Rising
3) This book, "Stormlord's Exile".
SPOILER ALERT: nothing in this review is a spoiler for "Stormlord's Exile" but it is impossible to describe the setting for this third book without some mild spoilers for the first two, so if you have not read them, follow the link to The Last Stormlord (Stormlord 1)
Most of the action of all three books is set in a region called "The Quartern" because it is divided into four sub-regions:
* The Scarpen quarter, the most prosperous of the four sub-regions, in which a row of five cities have been built along a massive escarpment, including Breccia, capital of the Quartern, and Scarcleft where much of the action of the trilogy takes place. There are also two port cities and one city on the far side of the Warthago mountains, near to the Red quarter.
* The Red quarter, a huge desert inhabited by tribes of redskinned nomads each of which inhabits one of the great sand-dunes of the quarter. The people of this quarter are known as Reduners and are the fiercest warriors of the Quartern.
* The Gibber quarter, a plain to the east of the Scarpen between the Warthago range and the sea, in which the people of the poorest sub-region eke out a hard living, and
* The White quarter, inhabited by a white skinned people known as "Alabasters" or "Basters" for short, and characterised by a great salt desert. The Alabasters trade with a country to the north east called Khromatis which is not part of the quartern. They have a complex relationship with the people of Khromatis, the explanation of which forms part of the story of this final volume of the trilogy.
All four quarters are short of water: the population has been boosted to well above what the natural supply of water would permit by the talents of men and women who can control water and bring rain. Those with a strong ability to control water are called rainlords, and those with an exceptionally strong ability are called stormlords. The ruler of the Quartern is called the Cloudmaster, an office to which the most powerful stormlord is usually appointed.
An important element of the economy of the quartern in general are large herbivores called "Pedes" which come in two kinds, Myriapedes and Packpedes. Both kinds can be used as pack animals or ridden: these creatures have some of the characteristics of real-world centipedes (multiple body segments, armoured hides, their feelers are a more important than their eyes) and some of those of camels (can go for a while without water, can cross the desert.)
At the start of the first book, the quartern faced a crisis because there were not enough rainlords and stormlords to supply the water which the region needs.
The last stormlord, Cloudmaster Granthon Almandine, was old and dying, and was using the last of his strength to continue bringing water to the Quartern. It was obvious that when he died most of the population would soon follow him unless a new stormlord could be found quickly ...
By the start of this third book, two of the cities of the Scarpen quarter have been sacked by Reduner armies during a particularly horrible war fought over water. A new stormlord has emerged and has taken the name Jasper Bloodstone.
Jasper has won the position of cloudmaster and defeated the Reduner army which had invaded the Scarpen and sacked two cities. The charismatic tyrant who led that invasion was killed in the battle, but despite the defeat his army is still dangerous and his successor, Sandmaster Ravard, remains a threat to the peace-loving peoples of the quartern. That particularly includes those Reduners who do not recognise Ravard's authority, among whom Rainlord Ryka Feldspar has settled with her husband and their baby son.
Jasper's power over water is far greater than any of the Quartern's rainlords, but he is not able to supply the entire quartern with water on his own. He can do so with the assistence of Terelle Grey, but she will shortly have to make a dangerous journey with her great-grandfather to Khromatis, the land of her ancestors. When she gets there, her great-grandfather's ambitious schemes may be even more dangerous to her than the journey ...
Jasper, Terelle and Ryka all need to beware of the possibility of treachery from those around them ...
Some very clever world-building. Though this series is a bit dark in places, I can recommend it.