No Sunshine and Rainbows Found Here
Queen of Storms
by Raymond E. Feist
Prevalent things in Feist’s novels are tragedies. Tragic events that shape the characters and send them on their narrative paths. Feist’s books are never stories of sunshine and rainbows. ―
Hatushaly and his young wife Hava have arrived in the prosperous trading town of Beran’s Hill to restore and reopen the fire-damaged Inn of the Three Stars. They are also preparing for the popular midsummer festival, where their friends Declan and Gwen will be wed.
But Hatu and Hava are not the ordinary loving couple they appear to be. They are assassins from the mysterious island of Coaltachin, home to the powerful and lethal Nocusara, the fearsome “Hidden Warriors.” Posing as innkeepers, they are awaiting instructions from their masters in the Kingdom of Night.
Hatu conceals an even more dangerous secret. He is the last remaining member of the legendary Firemanes, the ruling family of Ithrace. Known as the Kingdom of Flames, Ithrace was one of the five greatest realms of Tembria, ruled by Hatu’s father, Stervern Langene, until he and his people were betrayed. His heir, Hatu—then a baby—was hidden among the Nocusara, who raised him to become a deadly spy.
Hatu works hard to hide his true identity from all who would seek to use or to destroy him, as fate has other plans for the noble warrior. Unexpected calamity forces him to make choices he could not have dreamed awaited him.
A series of horrific events shatters the peace of Beran’s Hill, bringing death and devastation and unleashing monstrous forces. Once more, the Greater Realms of Tembria are threatened—and nothing will ever be the same again.
Hardcover, 437 pagesPublished July 14th 2020 by Harper VoyagerISBN0062315811 (ISBN13: 9780062315816)Edition LanguageEnglish
A hard-hitting, heartbreaking second novel of The Firemane Saga. In Queen of Storms, Raymond E. Feist takes us on a wild and perilous ride with his characters.
I once tried to explain where Raymond E. Feist fit into fantasy as a genre. I was talking to a gamer at the time, and the only comparison I could come up with at the time was that Raymond E. Feist is to fantasy what Final Fantasy is to gaming. Feist has been around a long time. To some, his novels are the bedrock for their love of fantasy books, much like The Final Fantasy series to gamers.
To those who read fantasy and have been reading fantasy for decades, Feist is enormous. His Riftwar Cycle is 30+ books long and defines what epic fantasy can be. Not to say that Feist is the end all be all of fantasy. There are many types and flavors of fantasy out there, but if you enjoy high fantasies, he is a must-read.
The Queen of Storms picks up right where we left off in King of Ashes. A lot is going on with the four main characters and tone-wise The Queen of Storms immediately has a darker and more intense tone. The four main characters: Hatu, Hava, Declan, and Donte, are the leading players. We also have the perspective of Baron Dumarch, who will play a pivotal role in the upcoming final book of the trilogy. Although he is crucial, I don’t think he is as important as the other four characters. Hatu, however, is an incredibly important character.
You do not see much personal growth with him personality-wise in Queen of Storms as he is still very much a bratty and slightly slow to pick up on things lead character. He doesn’t engender much sympathy or interest from me as a reader. But one change we do see in Queen of Storms is that his circumstances change quickly and with finality.
He finally starts to understand that he has responsibilities that he cannot shrug off. He was living a comfortable and normal life at the beginning of Queen of Storms as an innkeeper. Although he had never run an inn with Gwen, Declan’s future wife, he was getting the hang of it and rebuilding his inn. But we all know that comfort and stability is not in the future of a Sicari trained spy and the missing Firemane child.
Hava, who, along with Declan, has the most exciting narratives in Queen of Storms grows as a character. Or at least she lets out her lethality. There is a desperate and absolutism to her moral values. Whether this is an innate part of her personality or something learned from her years trained as a Sicari trained spy, she will do anything it takes to achieve her goals. You see that in spades on Queen of Storms. Nothing will stop her.
Declan, master smith and would be family man has a lot to contend with in Queen of Storms. The least of which is the loss of his forge. What is a blacksmith if they have no forge? Declan has a strong compartmentalism in his mind and personality. It is the antithesis of Hatu. Where Hatu burns with fire and rage that can consume him entirely, Declan is cold and hard. Much like the iron he forges.
As a reader, it is evident that Feist is purposefully putting these two players in the plot who are entirely different but whose lives intertangle with each other. There will come a moment in the next book; I suspect where Declan’s cold fire, and Hatu’s rage will work in tandem.
Last but not certainly least is Donte. His arc in this book is confusing and slightly bewildered. He floats on a collision course with Hatu and Hava like a balloon, he bounces and drifts from one thing to the next. But without and seriousness or steadfastness. He will be an essential character in the next book, for sure. If only because of the thread of his attachment to the witches from the first story. He has the niggling mind worm of an idea planted in his mind from them, and he is seemingly okay with it. Even though it goes against everything, he values. It is strange; I feel like his mind is going to crack under the load of this idea.
In the first book of this trilogy, King of Ashes, there were quite a few moments of celebration and happiness. It wasn’t always doom and gloom. The theme and tone of the Queen of Storms are quite different. This story is a transitional novel. It did not have it’s mini-arc, but rather a series of plot beats that funneled the characters to an epic conclusion. This book felt like Feist was taking a deep breath like he was the wolf and was going to blow down the proverbial pig’s house. And that deep breath will be the third book, where everything will come crashing down in fire and ash and be rebuilt anew.
This transitionality of the second book of the trilogy made it at some points feel slow. As a reader, I had no idea where I was going, so I was blindly crashing from moment to moment. These moments were exciting, but I did not get the same epic feeling I had after reading the first book.
The antagonist of The Queen of Storms is veiled. Who you thought was the bad guy in the first book, was a pawn. The characters’ political machinations: the baron, the Sicari, the Azhante, and the protectors of the Firemane line all swirl together in a maelstrom. I had no idea who the big baddie is. That is exciting, and I loved that Feist continually surprised me during this story.
Prevalent things in Feist’s novels are tragedies. Tragic events that shape the characters and send them on their narrative paths. Feist’s books are never stories of sunshine and rainbows. They are always epic and lustrous. They are bold and exciting, but frequently tragic, and they pull on your heart. This series is going to be like that. Although Feist says that this series is a trilogy, I could see it going for ten books. There is a lot to cover in this world—the epic tale of returning the Firemane child to his kingdom and the political machinations thereof is huge in scope. But this book is explicitly a book of transitions; if you are a fan of epic stories or are fans of Feist, you will enjoy this.
But take care and be forewarned; there are no conclusions to be found in this book.[Review originally appeared in Grimdark Magazine ]
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I received a copy of this from the publisher in exchange for my open and honest review.
About the Author
Raymond E. Feist was born Raymond E. Gonzales III, but took his adoptive step-father’s surname when his mother remarried Felix E. Feist. He graduated with a B.A. in Communication Arts with Honors in 1977 from the University of California at San Diego. During that year Feist had some ideas for a novel about a boy who would be a magician. He wrote the novel two years later, and it was published in 1982 by Doubleday. Feist currently lives in San Diego with his children, where he collects fine wine, DVDs, and books on a variety of topics of personal interest: wine, biographies, history, and, especially, the history of American Professional Football.
Where to Find Them
Elizabeth Tabler runs Beforewegoblog and is constantly immersed in fantasy stories. She was at one time an architect but divides her time now between her family in Portland, Oregon, and as many book worlds as she can get her hands on. She is also a huge fan of Self Published fantasy and is on Team Qwillery as a judge for SPFBO5. You will find her with a coffee in one hand and her iPad in the other. Find her on: Goodreads / Instagram / Pinterest / Twitter