Saturday, August 21, 2010

Review: The Stormcaller


The Stormcaller, by Tom Lloyd
Paperback: 449 pages
Publisher: Pyr, ©2008
ISBN: 978-1-59102-693-8
Copy: Out of pocket

From the back of the book: 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...but with that power comes an unpredictable temper and an inner rage he cannot always hide. 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 call comes, it isn't to be a soldier, for the Gods have other plans for the intemperate teenager: Isak has been chosen 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 make 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 would themselves be kings watch Isak, chosen by 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 paint the world with blood.

The Stormcaller is the first book in a powerful new series that combines inspired world building, epoch-shattering battles, and high emotion to dazzling effect.

Well, that's more than a mere blurb, but it does pretty much cover the main plot points. And a fine plot it is. While the info dump/assimilation quotient goes above average here, there is a Dramatis Personae at the end of the book for the reader to untangle all of the various personages walking through the storyline, as though it were a subway station. The faction tracking portion of keeping the plot straight was a bit difficult due the double-edged sword of: 1) info dump and, 2) lack of information on things that will probably be revealed in later installments. Other than the aforementioned potential snags, the plot of the story is engaging. The story elements of the setting (or world-building, whatever) have a nice mix of the imaginative and the "tried and true."

The characters really work for this tale. One could conceivably describe the characters as Eddings-esque (as a categorization not necessarily a criticism), but it would be more fair to describe them as being withheld from unnecessary over-complication and, yet, still vibrant. Each character carries a key emotive role, for the reader, and it worked in this instance.

The tale is third-person in nature, even during several key dreamscape sequences. One gets the sense that the author was attempting to veer away from the third-person during the dreamscape sequences, but didn't completely commit to doing so.

Overall, a very fun read and debut. One which shapes and stores an expectation for the next book in the series.

Highly Recommended

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