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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Herald of the Storm
This is the first in a series. There is quite a lot of introductory exposition on a lot of characters for the first six or so chapters in the book, so it is a book which I think you need to allow yourself some time to get into. Having said that, the characters are very intriguing right from the start. We read first of Massoum Abbasi travelling to Steelhaven; then the...
Published 13 months ago by Keen Reader

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Fairly standard, and readable
The novel begins with the introduction of a cast of characters who each get a couple of chapters to set them into the story. The author doesn't have much sense of dramatic structure, no big rise and fall of events. Throughout the book there's just a steady pace as events gradually build, and it's all quite standard stuff.

The cast list is basically a collection...
Published 24 days ago by Kublai


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Herald of the Storm, 27 July 2013
By 
Keen Reader "lhendry4" (Auckland, New Zealand) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Herald of the Storm (Steelhaven: Book One) (Paperback)
This is the first in a series. There is quite a lot of introductory exposition on a lot of characters for the first six or so chapters in the book, so it is a book which I think you need to allow yourself some time to get into. Having said that, the characters are very intriguing right from the start. We read first of Massoum Abbasi travelling to Steelhaven; then the Princess Janessa and her father King Cael; the Shieldmaidens of Vorena in the Temple of Autumn; Merrick Ryder and his conman tricks; Rag stealing to survive in the city; Nobul the metalsmith; Waylian Grimm the aspiring Magister; and River the assassin. Lots of characters all finding their way drawn to the city of Steelhaven as war continues in the surrounding countryside, and ambition and greed jostle with humility and honour.

There was a heck of a lot going on in this book; lots of people, some of whom came in and you had just got to figure out who they were when they flitted off again; lots of action with lots of different groups of people all making their own struggles. I can't quite put my finger on why the book almost, but not quite worked for me. I think in the end it was all just so busy that you couldn't concentrate on just a few threads of action. So, four stars rather than five from me.

There's heaps of potential in this book and in the series, and in the world that the author has created. I look forward to the next book, where it would be good to see some background on Amon Tugha and the Khurta, the Father of Killers and Azrael and Endellion. And more action with Waylian Grimm, who seems to be finding his way slowly. Here's hoping anyway.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Punches Pulled, 30 July 2013
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There has been a proliferation of supposed dark fantasy recently that when you scratch the surface offer nothing more than another glorified YA novel. If you like that kind of thing, then fine but don't advertise it as something grittier or more adult in nature.

I'm pleased to say that Herald of the Storm is exactly as advertised. Hard hitting, dark in tone and content with no emotion spared. The many character POV's are varied and offer realistic progression within their story archs, that even while this is very obviously the first in a series, were self contained within the novel.

The action is plentiful and at times shocking with many scenes believable due to the levels of depravity or desperation that people find themselves in.

Overall, a very enjoyable first trip to Steelhaven and will be looking out for the follow up in the future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fairly enjoyable fantasy, 14 Sep 2013
By 
The Emperor (UK) - See all my reviews
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I quite liked this. I must admit that apart from Lord of the Rings and the Songs of Ice & Fire books I haven't really read any fantasy books for a very long time.
I did think that this wasn't anywhere close to the quality of those books.
The writing style is okay and it is quite fast paced. The world building seemed quite convincing and consistent. Not being used to these of books I did find it hard to remember all the names and have to admit I did laugh a few times at it all.
The characters are maybe a little too likeable. Their attitudes and sensibilities all seemed to be far too modern.
Would probably rate this at three and a half stars if possible.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gritty fantasy, 29 July 2013
By 
Penny Waugh "A reader" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This is an excellent start to a new fantasy series, set in Steelhaven, an unlovely metropolis with a population coming close to panic as defeat in battle brings the threat of invasion very close.
The characters, initially seeming a fairly unattractive lot, have a solid feeling of reality about them, from River the reluctant assassin, Merrick who has fallen from grace to become a drunk and swindler, Nobul the heartbroken veteran of past battles and Waylian, an apprentice who cannot believe he will ever do magic, to Kaira the Shieldmaiden and consummate fighter, Janessa, queen when barely out of girlhood and Rag the young pickpocket who has never worn a dress before she is expected to housebreak in one. They all ring true and so does the setting - the reader can virtually smell it!
The main characters are introduced one by one and it took me time to get into the swing of the plot as one person is left in a difficult situation and only returned to some time later, but the momentum was enough to carry me on and I found the book very enjoyable. Looking forward to the next installment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good romp, although predictable and not very original, 17 Jun 2013
By 
JPS - See all my reviews
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This is a relatively good start for a new author and what seems to be a new fantasy trilogy. Like all good books of its kind, it reads well (for me, at least), although the story is not terribly original and neither is the set of characters.

The story is that of a troubled kingdom made up of five provinces and four cities, the so-called Free States, united by their ageing King Cael some three decades ago against a common enemy (some kind of inhuman monsters - the story does not go into too much detail at this stage). The Kingdom is at war and facing invasion from savage and barbarian hordes from the north commanded by a mysterious warlord and his two lieutenants who seem to be also somewhat inhuman and have special powers. The ageing Kind of the Kingdom's army has marched north to confront and defeat the invaders and the story essentially takes place within the rather squalid capital city, its temples and the palace, as the "herald of the storm" arrives and seeks to destabilize the authorities.

The dominant impression throughout the book is one of somewhat unexplained decay and decadence, with much being made about derelict sectors of the city and slum quarters. The problem I had here is that the author does not clearly explain why or how the "past glories" may have faded away and the rot set in. There is an allusion about the vast city port of Steelhaven not being the busy emporium that it used to be but the reason or reasons for this are just left untold.

The story, which I will refrain from telling, has a number of characters and jumps from one to the other as chapter follows chapter. This is also a well-used technique. However, I found it worked rather well in this book both for presenting the characters and for keeping up the suspense. The characters are not very original. In addition to the ones mentioned on the book's back cover (an unbalanced veteran, a disillusioned assassin, a hapless apprentice, a drunken swindler who is not an "artist", contrary to what another reviewer mentioned, and a desperate thief), you get the young, rebellious princess unsure of herself and who was not meant to be the heir to the throne. All of the characters will, of course, become more than what they are at the beginning and this is quite predictable, not to so almost obvious at times.

Despite all this, and despite the fact that the drama did not quite work as well as it could have for me, I very much enjoyed the read, including the atmosphere of "doom and gloom" and although it felt a bit overdone, at times. Four stars for a good first effort.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars cast of thousands but pretty good, 17 Jun 2013
By 
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
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It took me a little while to get into this, there are a lot of characters to get used to but then it all comes together rather nicely.

Set in a capital city, everything is chucked into the mix that you can imagine from the genre. Assassins, magic, thieves guild, gnarled old warriors, female warriors, impending hoards of bad guys, slavers, court politics etc etc. But once you get used to the assault to your senses and remembering who is who, this is actually pretty good. The characters grow on you, the plot comes together and before you know it you are churning through the pages and are sad when you come to the end.

First in a series (and an impressive debut I thought) and I am looking forward to the next one.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fairly standard, and readable, 23 Aug 2014
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The novel begins with the introduction of a cast of characters who each get a couple of chapters to set them into the story. The author doesn't have much sense of dramatic structure, no big rise and fall of events. Throughout the book there's just a steady pace as events gradually build, and it's all quite standard stuff.

The cast list is basically a collection of archetypes from Dungeons and Dragons and fantasy novels (Spoilers): the red head princess; the older warrior who's given up fighting but takes up the sword once again; the young thief; the young assassin; the struggling young wizard who is most likely destined for greatness; the charming criminal with a good heart beneath it all. The plot is also quite predictable at times and the way the separate stories interlink is a bit deus ex machina.

The writing style is reasonable, although there are too many F words thrown in and every now and then there's some horrible scene which breaks the usual feel of the novel - it's like the author is trying to make it needlessly gritty like a Joe Abercrombie or George R. R. Martin book. I find it refreshing when writers avoid this current trend of unnecessary grotesqueness at every turn.

So, Herald of the Storm is an okay book. It's readable, much better than the load of sadistic fantasy novels out there; a fairly standard example of the genre, where heroes can still be heroic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and nasty corners everywhere., 15 May 2014
By 
Jack Chakotay "Ender Brazil" (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This is a strong entry to the fantasy genre and this is fleshed out by violence and plenty of it. The author uses the introductory volume to put forward the depraved corners present everywhere in Steelhaven, not just the place but the lead characters. The looming threat on the horizon is a Genghis Khan/Moslem horde type character

Having read the first two novels nearly back to back, I can say that there is plenty to reward the effort put into finishing this lengthy volume in terms of story arc and character development. The author is not averse to pulling off some big shocks as evidenced by the bang of an ending.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Masterful weaver of tales, 3 May 2014
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As the 1st book in the series it weaves the tales of multiple characters in a style similar to Game of Thrones, I look forward to seeing if it stands up to that benchmark in the future
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent start to a new fantasy sequence, 16 April 2014
By 
Paul Fillery (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a good first entry in a new "dark fantasy" (sheesh) sequence centred in the city of Steelhaven. The usual characters are all here - the princess, the rogue, the outsider, the wizard, etc, etc. What sets this apart from many feebler entries in this genre is the city itself - a wonderful character all by itself. I saw someone else compare it to Blacksand in the Fighting Fantasy book "City of Thieves" - that is EXACTLY the same place I thought of when reading this book. Ford's prose style is simple but with some nice descriptive passages; dialogue can be a little stilted at times, but as he gets more used to writing these characters and gets to know them better then that will improve markedly. Yes, you can see elements of the likes of Martin, Abercrombie, Eriksen, and so on here, and it sometimes tries a little too hard to be "dark" (violence and swearing - I'm looking at you) - but I enjoyed it enough to look forward to reading Ford's next book in the sequence and spending some more time in the squalor of Steelhaven.
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Herald of the Storm (Steelhaven: Book One)
Herald of the Storm (Steelhaven: Book One) by Richard Ford (Paperback - 1 Aug 2013)
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