Saturday, 25 July 2015

Review: Rise of the Storm

As I've said in previous reviews, I'm not a fan of politics, though history is of some interest to me. I just don't have the attention span for it, especially since it's hard to enjoy politics with what's happening in the world today. So it honestly comes as a nice surprise when I say that I enjoyed reading about them in fantasy novels. Somehow, everything is just more compelling, especially when there are a lot of perspectives and scenarios involved. Case in point, Rise of the Storm by Christina Ochs. If that name rings a bell, it's either because you're part of the WeWriWa circuit, or because you stopped by the blog a couple days ago to read the guest post/interview with Christina. Regardless, the verdict is in: Ochs is a hell of a writer. Rise of the Storm is exciting, well constructed, surprising, heartfelt, and will leave you wanting more.

Absolutely love this cover. Great coloring, design, and text.

When a renegade priest prophesies an imminent apocalypse, a conflict is sparked which will tip a continent into war. 

Prince Kendryk is young, handsome and popular, his kingdom prosperous and peaceful. But in the face of the prophesied apocalypse, he must choose between conscience and power. If he chooses the side of the faith, he must defy the ruthless Empress Teodora, ruler of a vast empire, imperiling kingdom and family— but if he chooses the side of power, he risks plunging his world into a darkness worse than war. The coming conflict will touch the lives of thousands, among them…

Prince Kendryk’s adored wife, Gwynneth, the proud daughter of a king, whose ambition may come at great cost. Braeden, a violent mercenary, commander of a legendary winged army, who will find himself in the service of an employer he must defy to protect those he holds dear. And Janna, the merchant’s wife, forced to abandon her home and her way of life, ill-prepared to keep herself and her children safe from the ravages of war…

An epic fantasy saga drawn from real history, Rise of the Storm is Book One in the compelling new Desolate Empire series, sure to propel Christina Ochs to the top of your fantasy reading list this summer.

As with a lot of fantasy novels split into different perspectives, each character has their own story that weaves into the main plot. Every action has consequences, every choice costing something dear. Each journey is interesting and complex, making it hard for me to chose a favorite. The stakes were different for everyone, but the cost varied. There were definitely choices I didn't expect and actions that had me re-reading certain paragraphs. Seeing the war unfold on both sides was definitely a smart move, since it constantly had you worrying about everyone. Well, almost everyone. I'm looking at you, Teodora.

The characters are definitely the strongest point in the story. Kendryk is a great lead, a young man who wants to see the best in everyone and hasn't been hardened by his position as ruler and Prince. His wife Gwynneth does what she can to help him, though she misses him terribly. Of everyone, her actions surprised me the most. Braeden is probably my favorite character. He's strong and instantly likeable, the kind of guy you want to go out for drinks with. After he's finished a battle, of course. Working for the explosively-tempered Empress isn't exactly stress-free work. Then there's Janna, who seems like an odd mix with all the other strong characters. Don't get me wrong, she's great, but it's made clear that she's not a warrior. She's actually a little bit of a coward. But that doesn't make her weak, except for in the conventional term. I felt myself feeling sorry for her, hoping she would be able to catch a damn break. Sure, she did, and she's lucky in a way, but she had to endure a lot of hardships before she found it.

There were hints of magic and monsters in the book, which I love (as you can tell by what I write), though not as much as I would have liked. Sure, this isn't high fantasy with Elves or dwarves or anything, but it kind of took me off guard when it appeared. Like, "Oh yeah, that person might actually be a werewolf." Little things that I didn't know how to interpret because there wasn't enough of it to go around. Maybe there will be a little more in future books. I don't know, but I would love to see it.

I can recommend this to anyone who enjoys classic fantasy or history or hierarchies. I'd seen snippets of the book from WeWriWa 8Sunday posts and really enjoyed seeing how it all came together. Fans of Game of Thrones will enjoy this novel a lot. There's half the amount of characters, a lot less confusion, and way less beloved character deaths! Though there were a few times where I found myself saying, "GAH! Don't say that! Characters always say that before they die!" This definitely isn't helped by the ending, which will basically force me to read the next book when it comes out. Not that I'm complaining.


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