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4 of 4 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 11 months ago by Keen Reader

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3.0 out of 5 stars Hmmm...
Got to admit that I'm not a big fantasy reader, but I can enjoy such novels if they're good (Joe Abercrombie, George RR Martin).

This is the first in a new series and is pretty good. There's a large list of characters who bounce around fighting each other, and there's plenty of bloodshed.

Thing is Mr. Martin has rather spoilt this kind of fantasty...
Published 1 month ago by G. J. Oxley


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4.0 out of 5 stars Definitively worth a read., 2 April 2014
By 
M. Gibbons "Loveregency" (London) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Herald of the Storm (Steelhaven: Book One) (Hardcover)
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This is a really enjoyable read. This book had a lot of characters that I got confused with at points but it all pulled together.
The book is written from various character points which adds to the feeling of the plot.
I am sure the follow on books will show this series to be addictive.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good beginning, 9 Jan 2014
This review is from: Herald of the Storm (Steelhaven: Book One) (Hardcover)
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All the usual fantasy gang are here: a reluctant princess, a wizard who doesn't understand spells, a con-man, an urchin thief, a flawed assassin, spies, soldiers and plenty more characters besides.

When I first started reading, I got very confused. We had multiple chapters from multiple characters' point of view and half the time I couldn't remember who these characters were. But that might just be my memory rather than any fault of the book. I'd have preferred less point of view characters myself so I could more easily grasp what was going on.

It's a good fantasy book, if you prefer your fantasy a bit more gritty and realistic rather than filled with unicorns and rainbows, although come to think of it, it's been a long time since I've read any fantasy with unicorns these days.

Steelhaven is a city and like it's name, it's hard and tough, filled with the poor and the desperate, who are going to get even more poor and desperate after the flood of refugees arrive fleeing the fighting in the north.

The writing is good, very down-to-earth and flows well and the pages seemed to turn themselves. All the different character arcs seem disconnected at first, but gradually you see the threads joining them together.

Since it's a first book of a series, there is a lot of set-up and setting the scene, so it may be that a lot more action will happen in subsequent books.

My favourite characters were Princess Janessa, who is suddenly thrust as the heir to the throne when all her siblings have died from the plague, or as the book calls it, the Sweet Canker, and Rag, the pick-pocket whose life changed dramatically and she ended up on the streets.

I think I will give the next part a go, even if I do get a bit confused with all the different characters.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good fantasy debut, 18 July 2013
By 
N. Offer (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I enjoyed this book. Lets get one thing straight though it is nothing like Abercombie or Martin. As fantasy debut's go this book was enjoyable with a reasonable set of characters. Although there is little morale ambiguity, the characters are still interesting and develop well.

The plot whilst being quite basic moved quickly and had enough in it to keep me intrigued. the multiple story lines flowed and interacted well with one another. I want to learn more about this world and see if the author can bring in a sense of grittyness to his writing, which although he obviously tries to create was lacking.

Overall a good debut, with alot of potential as the author develops.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Slow starter burns brightly, 2 May 2013
This review is from: Herald of the Storm (Steelhaven: Book One) (Hardcover)
Epic fantasy is my first love and even if I've since broadened my scope and fallen in love with other subgenres, a good epic tale will always catch my eye. The description for Richard Ford's Herald of the Storm in Headline's spring catalogue certainly jumped out at me and I was really pleased to be sent an ARC earlier this year. I'd read Ford's previous novel Kultus last year and while I had some issues with it - largely due to some really foul language and some uneven world building - I really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to seeing how Ford would take on epic fantasy. And I have to say, I really liked Herald of the Storm. There were some elements that didn't completely work for me, but Ford's clearly grown as a writer and Herald of the Storm is a totally different sort of book than Kultus was.

Ford tells his story through the viewpoint of seven different characters, with each chapter being told from one character's point of view. Now, I like multiple viewpoint epics quite a lot, but they are quite difficult to pull off and there's a risk the reader might not connect strongly or at all to some of the main characters. In addition, sometimes it makes the story jump arcs so many times that the narrative loses its flow. For me, Herald of the Storm suffered mostly from the latter of these issues, though I did have favourites among the main characters. It takes quite a while before some of these characters pair up, which means that there are seven storylines to follow and whenever one got really moving, we'd get to the next chapter and jump to another character, not knowing when we'd return to the one we just left. This frustrated me as it disturbed the flow of the narrative and I found myself leafing ahead to figure out how much I'd have to read to get to the next chapter for the character we'd just left behind. However, all the storylines felt necessary to the plot, bar two, Rag's and River's, but I think they might be more pivotal in the next book in the series. Why do I say they didn't feel as crucial to the plot as the rest? Because I felt that a number of the impacts they have on the story, mostly through impact on other main characters, might have been accomplished in the story through other means and not changed the story that significantly. But, again, seeing where they end up at the end of the novel, I can see them having far more impacting roles in the next book. However, I did enjoy both of these characters, so I wouldn't have wanted to miss them either.

The protagonists cover all the different strata of life found in the city of Steelhaven. We see the criminal underbelly of the city represented by Rag, River, and Merrick; the working class represented by Nobul; the ecclesiastics represented by Kaira; the scholars represented by Waylian; and the nobility represented by Janessa. This allows us to get to know the city's populace in all walks of life and see how they regard the others, even if in the main they don't consciously cross each other's paths. My favourites were Nobul, Waylian, Kaira, and Merrick. I found them and their arcs most compelling. Nobul is a veteran of the country's bloodiest battle, Bakhaus Gate, which had him see horrors he's never forgotten and left him a changed man. It also meant he wasn't the husband and father he should have been, which drives him to leave behind his life as a smith and join the city watch, the Greencoats. Through Nobul, we get to see the darker side of Steelhaven and how powerless the militia feels and how corrupts many of its members are. I appreciated Nobul's awareness of his vicious streak and his genuine grief and guilt at his treatment of his son. Ford makes him sympathetic but with a dangerous edge and a character that is on the way to redemption which is always an enjoyable thing. Waylian, on the other hand, doesn't need redemption, as he's largely an innocent. A young student at the Towers of Magisters, he's feeling out of his depth and lonely and is on the point of giving up. His is a traditional epic fantasy character trope, that of the young man that discovers his place in life among the doings of the great and powerful. I'm a sucker for the trope, so it's no surprise I liked Waylian, but I liked Ford's treatment of him, taking him to the depths of despair and leaving him more confident, but still unsettled in his new position. Kaira, the Shieldmaiden of Vorenna, is trained as a warrior and is magnificent with a blade, but she is given an assignment that will test her and her allegiance to the Temple to the limits. I liked her a lot and especially once she is paired up with Merrick, their chapters became some of my favourites. The interaction between these two was priceless; Kaira not quite sure what to make of the rake Merrick and Merrick completely stymied by the fact Kaira is rather unreceptive to his legendary charms. There is a lot of humour there. Both Merrick and Kaira go through a lot of change and face many demands on their conscience throughout the book and where they end up at the end of the book was really cool and I can't wait to find out where they go from here.

The only character I found somewhat disappointing, was Janessa. Her storyline was interesting and there was some interesting politicking going on, but much of her story arc deals with her need to marry to be able to rule country. While in the end, Ford sets this stereotype on its ear and in a rather splendid way, there were some elements to Janessa's actions, mostly those to do with her secret love that annoyed me. She only seemed spurred to action because of this man's actions and I thought she showed more potential than that. A far stronger female character, besides Kaira, was Waylian's mentor was Gelredida. She is a powerful mage, who treats herself as an equal to the men around her and doesn't let them dismiss her out of hand for being a woman. Overall, there were some lovely secondary characters in the book and Ford manages to give most of them - with the exception of the many thugs and henchmen our characters encounter, because how much personality does it take to read goon - a distinct personality.

Despite being a true epic fantasy, there are several different flavours to the plot. There's a murder mystery, a heist, a budding partnership between a swindler and a Temple Shieldmaiden, which at times resembles a buddy comedy, all mixed in with your regular political intrigue and warfare sporting epic fantasy. Ford's world-building has improved. It's far more even and while similar to Kultus the narrative is largely confined to one city, we do get a bigger picture of the world beyond. Setting my issues with pacing and some of the characters aside, I really enjoyed Herald of the Storm. With only a hundred pages to go, I had to force myself to put the book down because I'd have wanted to finish it otherwise and I really needed to get some sleep. The book is a somewhat slow starter, but it burns brightly once it's out of the gate. Ford has created a really solid first epic fantasy novel and I'm looking forward to reuniting with our protagonists to see where Ford takes them next. If you're looking for some big epic fantasy to lose yourself in over the summer, Herald of the Storm is a good place to start.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fierce & furious fantasy, 27 July 2013
This review is from: Herald of the Storm (Steelhaven: Book One) (Hardcover)
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400 paged but packing mush more; definitely has an "epic" feel to it. This is a fantasy adventure but with grits and gore, fierce and furious, with tough hard characters in a big bad world. The characters are rich and have depth, though there are quite a few of them, and the world it is set in is believable and fascinating.
The story flows really well with an enticing style and prose and strong storyline. I am definitely looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loving it!, 8 July 2013
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This book has really taken me.
I like the way it's written, the characters and the story.
What more does one need?
Not finished it yet, but I know I will
feel empty once I have.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spot on, 26 April 2013
By 
Gavlar (south wales U.K.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Herald of the Storm (Steelhaven: Book One) (Hardcover)
I first discovered Richard Ford via the good fortune of getting hold of his steampunk novel 'Kultus' which was a real highlight of the year for me. So, a change of style after such a great start... Got to admit, I was a little apprehensive but to give it straight Ford has penned one of the most entertaining high fantasy/historical fiction pieces I've read in ages, there is minimal use of languages and names you can't pronounce and instead of that just flat out story being told, all of the characters introduced are detailed to perfection (I'm always a sucker for the classic anti-hero) and the writing leans to a more modern style instead of falling into the all too common trap of being all flowers and prose for nothing.
Mr Ford, welcome to the world of high fantasy, your challenge to the throne seems to be legitimate now crush your enemies, see them driven from before you and hear the lamentation of their women.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic, 10 July 2013
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Depth

I have read quite a few book recently in this very genre that have simply lacked depeth to the characters and have then been deleated from my kindle in disgust. I'm sure you've seen them floating around with many 4-5 star reviews saying how great the book is, yet it reads like a teenager wrote it the night before it was due.

NOT THIS !

According to my kindle I am 72% of the way through it, and it is simply EPIC. There are quite a few characters, and it can be a little confusing at the begining if you can't quite remember who is who, it took no time for it all to come together.

If you're a fan of the fantasy genre I highly highly highly recommend purchasing this book, I can guarantee you won't be dissapointed !
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid Entertainment - Thumping Action and Plenty of Plot, 31 May 2013
By 
wolf (East Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Herald of the Storm (Steelhaven: Book One) (Hardcover)
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'Herald of the Storm' offers plenty of bang for your buck. In this, the start of a new fantasy series by Richard Ford, we have multiple plot strands, each offering action and excitement, interweaving in a manner that is easy to read and thoroughly entertaining.

Set against the backdrop of a city facing multiple threats - an invading barbarian horde, a rogue magician on the loose intent on fell deeds, a succession crisis and an assassination plot - we have stories of a more personal nature - forbidden love, attempts to prove worthy to enter a criminal gang and grief and vengeance. The range of interweaving story lines veers towards the unnecessarily complex - we are seven chapters and a prologue in before we return to characters we have met before in the eighth chapter. Perhaps it is not suprising, therefore, that the characterisation is somewhat broad brush. Many of the characters (impulsive spirited princess, charming drunken chancer, tormented veteran, struggling magician's apprentice, regretful assassin) are easily recognisable archetypes, with little to add extra depth. World building is minimal: even the city itself is only quickly sketched - it never becomes particularly solid or real.

What the book does have in spades, however, is plot and action. The story quickly develops a rattling pace and whilst the various twists and turns sometimes feel highly contrived, it remains always engaging. It is very easy to read.

Whilst no new classic, this book deserves to find an audience. I've no doubt it will and little doubt they'll really enjoy it.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A storming good read!, 27 July 2013
By 
M. S. Richards "twitchwilliams" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Herald of the Storm (Steelhaven: Book One) (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is generic fantasy, make no mistake about that, but the author revels in all of the familiar tropes, and gives us a hard-edged tale populated by well-drawn characters. A lot of post-Tolkien fantasy authors tend to set their tales in periods of decay, following a golden age of some sort (presumably because it more easily facilitates the drama), and this is no exception: this isn't a look at the pretty side of fantasy, it's down-and-dirty, squalid and smelly; it's about fringe characters, struggling to get by, while everything that takes place is overshadowed by the threat of an impending invasion. Moody, atmospheric, and quite a bit of fun.
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Herald of the Storm (Steelhaven: Book One)
Herald of the Storm (Steelhaven: Book One) by Richard Ford (Hardcover - 25 April 2013)
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