Juliet E. McKenna - Northern Storm

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Posted by Sulkyblue (10th Oct 2004, 14:09)

I'm an unashamed fan of Juliet's work mostly because I've met her several times at icsf events and been thoroughly charmed by her. They are not normally the kind of books I read - multibook spanning fantasy sword and sorcery type affairs. I started reading her work when she came to talk at an event as a first time author and I've been eagerly purchasing them as soon as they're published ever since.

This is the 2nd book in (I'm guessing) a 4 part series set in the same world, but different region as her previous series. However each of Juliet's books is a complete story in itself, leaving enough hanging for you to want the next in the series, but being complete enough that you don't finish each book with a disappointed wail as your hero hangs from the proverbial cliff. Northern Storm picks up the story of Kheda a while after the conclussion of Southern Fire. He is now warlord of Chazen, the region ruined by the wild men's invasion in the previous novel. As he tries to rebuild Chazen and remove the taint of wizardry he is set upon by a more iminent problem - a hungry dragon.

As Kheda tells the story you get a very good sense of the warring instincts in him. He wants to protect his new domain, but still has very strong ties to his old domain of Kaish, not wanting to harm his people or his son who is their new lord. Meanwhile he's desperate to purge himself of the dreadful taint of magic on himself and his land, but is continually faced with having to seek out magic to save his land. He's also conflicted in his need to be seen as a good warlord and husband to the last surviving wife of the dead ruler and his desire to be with Rishala, a travelling poet who knows all his secrets and his concerns. Throughout all this he clings to his belief in the power of omens, even if he doesn't always understand what they indicate.

I found this book, like Juliet's others, to be hugely readable, causing several lunch breaks to overrun. The pacing of the book is superb, large chunks of time are skipped between chapters so there is no lingering or descriptions of events that don't need describing. The intersting mix of 1st and 3rd person gives insight into how the characters are thinking without getting bogged down. The cast of supporting characters are very intersting, each with their own reasons for doing what they are doing, whether for themselves, for the general good, or for a combination. Few of the characters are withou ulterior motives and considerable 'flaws' in their character, but you find yourself liking most of them regardless.

Many people have said that Juliet's work is 'fantasy for non-fantasy fans' and I'm inclined to agree. Sword and sorcery has never appealed to me, but I find her work utterly engrossing, with interesting concepts, well-developed characters, engaging plots and superb pacing. My only reservation in recommending her work is that her books all tend to be about 500 pages and come in series so can be a daunting committment. However even though it can take me weeks to read 200 pages, I finished Northern Storm in less than a week as I couldn't put it down. I'd love to see her write some independant novels/short stories and take a shot at another universe, just to see what she comes up with. But for now I'll just wait until the next book in the series comes out next Sept.

About item:

Related items:

- 1: Southern Fire

About author:

- Mckenna, Juliet E

Related authors:

- Mckenna, Juliet E

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