Darkstorm: Volume 1 (The Rhenwars Saga) Paperback – 21 Jan 2017
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About the Author
M.L. Spencer loves fantasy, especially favorite authors Robert Jordan, Patrick Rothfuss, George R.R. Martin, David Eddings, Neil Gaiman, Joe Ambercrombie, and Terry Goodkind. 1st Place Prose in the San Bernardino County Writing Celebration and 2012 IndieReader Discovery Award for Fantasy. Please connect with M.L. Spencer at http://mlspencerfiction.com
Top customer reviews
As such this tale is political in nature and has complex plot developments, some driven by character and others by the nature of the world they inhabit; Rhenwars #1 presents a web of intrigue entangling a host of actors caught up in world-shaking events that they struggle to control. Darkstorm is also beautifully written by an author who is clearly well versed in the English language and not afraid to show it: the prose is powerful and evocative, but for all the splendid descriptions of temples, towers, landscapes and cities, the reader never loses the sense that this is a world on the brink of a precipice.
I won't go into the protagonists in too much detail because that would constitute a plot spoiler, but suffice to say that Quinlan Reis, a talented warlock who feels driven to drown past pain in the bottle, is an intriguing anti-hero; his fraught relationship with his brother and fellow mage Braden, Caladornian ambassador to Aerysius, the capital of the Rhen, is marred by tragedy and allows the author to give her protagonists depth while maintaining the fast pace of a thriller. And right from the start we are obliged to question the elusive Merris, an acolyte mage who becomes embroiled in skulduggery for motives of her own. Her character development is shocking, but clues as to her true nature are cleverly interwoven into the early narrative.
The world is revealed gradually and again there is a sense of much more to come: future history waiting to be written, much of it cataclysmic I suspect. The pastoral steppe culture of the Reis brothers' homeland in Kazahar is a pleasing counterweight to the tense city halls of Bryn Calazar and Aerysius that their destiny has obliged them to navigate, and again I expect the geographical scope of Spencer's world will become more apparent as the Rhenwars Saga progresses.
Brooding and grim and surreally beautiful, Darkstorm is a fast-paced book with a lot of twists and subtexts that probably rewards rereading; it comes equipped with a glossary at the back, testimony to the author's meticulous construction of a fully functioning world with its traditions, hierarchies and superstitions, including a detailed magic system. My only criticism (if such it is) is that the novel could have been longer: I understand there is a trend towards shorter books nowadays, but it isn't one I hold with. The Rhenwars Saga is clearly intended as a dark fantasy on an epic scale that will reward an intelligent and patient reader who likes to be left with questions as well as answers. Highly recommended for sophisticated fans of the genre.
I received free copy in exchange for an honest review.
This is a great Fantasy story with some big ideas.
The impending apocalypse; the idea that magic is a tangible thing that people devote their lives to, and the threat of it reversing polarity; and what people will sacrifice to stop it.
I also found the morals and arguments of the opposing characters fascinating, and it does make you wonder which is the lesser of two evils.
I liked the four main characters - the narrations starts mainly with Merris, as she uncovers the sinister plot and tells her mentor that one of their highest-standing mages is working against nature.
Braden and Quin get to lead some sections. Sephana is nice enough, but tends to be a back-up character for Merris and Braden.
Merris is quite light-hearted and helps to contrast the seriousness of the plot. I did find her character very changeable throughout, and was hard to keep track of. One minute she's shy, the next she's confident. She's tomboyish, then a seductress. In the story, she is described as a chameleon who adapts to her surroundings, so I struggled to define her.
Braden is probably the strongest character. His morals define him, and he stands true to who he is, no matter the cost. He has his problems and past pains, but he doesn't let that hinder him in trying to save the world. He represents the best of everything, he's a diplomat, a fierce warrior, a leader amongst the tribes he originated from (oh, and deserving of Thor's hammer, anyone?).
His brother Quin is his opposite. He is physically weak, prone to addiction, and has little willpower to control his emotions. His magic is also more experimental, and has darker undertones. But he is loyal, and brave (when necessary) and will step up to do his part.
As I said before, Sephana is a back-up character. She is nice, has powerful magic and a positive outlook. She supports Braden when he needs it, and helps to keep him human. Beyond that, we don't get to know much about her.
The story has some big ideas, and I enjoyed most of it.
I have to confess, I found the second have somewhat confusing, as the tension builds and the narration jumps between various scenes.
I also wondered at the lack of drive from some of our characters - they've got three weeks to stop the oncoming apocalypse, but Quin and Merris spend two weeks of that shacked up in an inn 'hiding'.
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