Storms of Vengeance
by John BeachemStorms of Vengeance begins with a mystery, which soon turns out to be several puzzles rolled into one. The capital of the kingdom of Faranin, Terne, is under attack and the guards are unprepared. After years of peace a magically-assisted attack comes as a rude awakening for the people of Terne. After the assailants disappear as abruptly as they appeared, a councilman is found murdered.
It falls to Commander Faren to organise the investigation. He has the help of two young guards, Calton Relanas and Ratel Eresgot, who find themselves mixed up in events that affect the whole kingdom. Calton is sent to another city to research an item that was stolen during the raid. It's a mission that he barely escapes from with his life, although he does manage to pick up a number of friends on the way.
Meanwhile we follow the fortunes of the assassin Durayl and his team, as they escape northwards from Terne. On first impressions he and his group seem to be the villains of the piece, a collection of outcasts and rogues who kill people without compunction. But the more we learn about them, the more our assumptions are turned on their head.
Although the king is softly-spoken, Faranin is under a repressive regime, with strict curfews in the cities. Magic is outlawed, and those able to use it, known as the marked, are singled out for the harshest persecution. The further we delve into this world, the more vivid are the horrors that we encounter.
John Beachem has created a world populated with a host of different races that bring a sense of the alien to this story. The elves, ogres, lizardmen, and various other races are not the kind of cuddly quasi-humans that you find in more comforting fantasy. The elves in particular are an enigma. Hated, feared, and considered to be forest demons by many of the humans, they are a race of outsiders. But are these deadly creatures little better than the wild animals many people believe them to be, incapable of language or culture, or is there much more to them?
The author has a good grasp of suspense. Intelligent plotting combined with lifelike characters will leave you always wondering what will happen next, and who is behind it all. There's a sense throughout this novel of impending threat, of something around the corner that's more terrifying than anything that has come before, and our expectations are not disappointed. But the suspense is not the only thing that makes this a compulsive page-turner. Beachem has succeeded in creating an epic cast of believable characters who demand our sympathy and attention from the start.
The ending of Storms of Vengeance is more of a beginning, answering a few questions but leaving more mysteries to be solved in the rest of The Lorradda Stone series. Yet Beachem's writing is so intense and compelling and his imagination so rich that fans of epic fantasy will be left gasping for more.
The only problem with Storms of Vengeance is a noticeable lack of proofreading. Frequent typos make what would otherwise be a top-notch work of fiction less enjoyable to read.
Review © Ros Jackson
John Beachem is an American author whose first epic fantasy novel was published in 2006.