I specially ordered the US version of this book since I thought that Gollancz had done a pretty poor job with the cover and that the guys over at Pyr had created a way more appealing and appropriate cover for Stormcaller. This is the first book that author Tom Lloyd published back in 2006, though the US edition didn’t come out until 2008. It’s also the start of a new series, book one of five, so not too long a series for those of you out there that prefer them short.
Blurb: In a land ruled by prophecy and the whims of Gods, a young man finds himself at the heart of a war he barely understands, wielding powers he may never be able to control. Isak is a white-eye, born bigger, more charismatic, and more powerful than normal men. Brought up as a wagon-brat, feared and despised by those around him, he dreams of a place in the army and a chance to live his own life. But when the calls comes, it isn’t to be a soldier, for the Gods have other plans for the intemperate teenager: Isak has been chose as heir-elect to the brooding Lord Bahl, the white-eye Lord of the Farlan. The white-eyes were created by the Gods to bring order out of chaos, for their magnetic charm and formidable strength makes them natural leaders of men. Lord Bahl is Typical of the breed: he inspires and oppresses those around him in equal measure. He can be brusque and impatient, a difficult mentor for a boy every bit as volatile as he is. But now is the time for revenge, and for the forging of empires. With mounting envy and malice, the men who woulf themselves kings watch Isak, chosen of the Gods as flawed as the humans who serve them, as he is shaped and molded to fulfill the prophecies that circle him like scavenger birds. Divine fury and mortal strife are about to spill over and pain the world with blood.
If from that you didn’t get that white-eyes are powerful, have great leadership skills and extraordinary strength then you probably shouldn’t try reading a book anytime soon. As to the story: as you also probably gathered from the blurb Stormcaller is you typical hero from very low origins rises to unbelievable heights in society/power and that is where all the conflict happens. Now, in this book there are some slight variations to this format; first of all, Isak does not take the entire book to become the Krann (heir), in fact after the first few chapters he’s already pretty much in as high a position as he’ll get in this book. Secondly, Lloyd skips up all the “learning” that generally occurs in this type of fantasy book, meaning he often let’s considerable amounts of time during which we assume Isak has learned greater mastery of his fighting skills and magic, as well as grown to an even bigger size than before (although the size thing is acknowledged quite a few times). This is both a good and bad thing. It means avoiding all the lengthy monologues from the mentor and endless pages with no actions other than perhaps training accidents (just using a common example for other books) but it also means that we have very little or no idea about how the magic actually works, which for me is often a big thing. Sure we get a couple of basic, and when I say basic it’s really basic, rules about how they use their magic but not much else.
It probably doesn’t help that as a character, Isak isn’t very interested in the magic either. He does make up for it somewhat in just how awesome he is. I’ve read books with heroes in them that amazing but Isak is just over the top. Remember those white-eyes characteristics I mentioned before? Yeah, well that is what he is: a huge giant like man with immense strength, charisma and that can use magic as well. Oh, and did I say he could potentially live to 200 + years? In fact one of the qualms I have about this novel is how easily Isak develops into this seemingly invincible character. Through his time skipping, Lloyd loses a bit a depth to this character as we see individual steps in his development as a future leader making it seem like a faster and less likely evolution.
Thankfully, Lloyd makes up for it in the end with some great continuous plot. The book manages well enough to create some intrigue and some foreboding for things to come in the next books in the series while wrapping it up nicely in Stormcaller itself. The characters that are introduced to us a very satisfying and varied enough for the purposes of the story.
In a general, a good book, though I have read better. From what I’ve read the other novels in the Twilight Reign Series pick it up even more so that is sure to get me to buy the sequels. I will say though, that I had some problems really staying in the story at times, especially during the elves section of the book, since try as I might I always had a bit of a hard time imagining elves as cursed and evil creatures (verses the more classical, Tolkien-esque elves). But still extremely worthwhile. Read if you like epic fantasy as well as if you’re the dark and gritty fantasy type.
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Reading Age: 14 and up
Violence: Yes some but not too much though it gets intense at times
Sex/Language: A bit of language but nothing extraordinary, no sex to speak of
Tom Lloyd’s website: http://www.tomlloyd.co.uk