Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Early Critique: "Chasers of the Wind" by Alexey Pehov

The Hook: "He who chases the wind will find the storm."

I received this e-book for free via NetGalley, but in no way did it affect my literary taste buds. This critique is my honest opinion.

To Be Released: June 17th

Book #1 in The Cycle of Wind and Sparks

The Plot:
Luk is just plain unlucky. The day he had guard duty on the Gates of Six Towers, necromancers from Sdis decided to sneak in and attack it, leaving him to run for the hills until he meets up with a man he owes his life and some gambling debts, Ga-Nor. Meanwhile, in the village of Dog Green, Pars the carpenter (aka Gray or Ness) and his wife Layen have been lying low for seven years, having assassinated a Walker (a magic user) and collected the price of her head, leaving some evidence behind to give the appearance that they were dead. Until a group of old compatriots stop by to warn them they are no longer believed to be dead, and there is a price on their heads, turning them into fair game.

What immediately captured my attention to look at this book was the title, followed shortly by the cover. It isn't often you see such an attractive presentation package for a fantasy book that both shows action and the world it is set in, making you want to hastily buy it and find the passage that relates to the image. The opening chapters in this book draw you in relatively quickly, as do the personalities of the characters. This book is told in both third person and first person narrative, which is unusual, but I eventually warmed to it. Never have I heard a curse like "screw a toad" that immediately told which character was speaking: in this case, it was Luk. While reading, you had a feel of some of the different cultures and races of Chasers of the Wind, though not all, lending a pleasant sense of mystery to the world.

That said, much of this story is comprised of a journey and sequence of chases. Some of the scenes didn't seem relevant to the plot, but this book is part of a series, and what might not seem pertinent in this book may have bearing on the next. Somewhere before the middle of the book, I reached a lull in the story, where interesting things weren't happening quickly enough for my liking, leaving me to power through despite it. The remainder of the book went by in a flash, leaving me hungry for more, and a bit disappointed with the pre-resolution ending. The fate of the main characters is hanging in the balance, and some of the plot is left unresolved. I can appreciate that this is, again, part of a series, but I would've liked a few more pages to wrap up some other angles of the story.

This book has female antagonists (yes, more than one), which I truly enjoyed reading about. Too often in fantasy there are only male villains to be found, or if there is a villainess, she is often overshadowed by a male antagonist as her boss. With the two central villainesses of Chasers of the Wind, one is acting on ulterior motives and the other is outclassed by an older female antagonist (who we don't see much of). There are also quite a few female characters in this book, though only one is a protagonist. I was surprised at the abundance of women who hold positions of power in this book, as many fantasy novels choose to tread the medieval path and use them solely as love interests or characters otherwise uninvolved in the plot.

Chasers of the Wind is an unusual book in the current marketplace of fantasy. Not only did it prominently feature women and cast main characters as a married couple, it infused a fresh set of cultures and races into a believable world. Although I did get stalled in a few places and the ending was too unresolved for my taste, I won't soon forget the protagonists or their journey to Al'sgara.

What I really mean to say is... 'Screw a toad'! I want to read the next book right now!

Rating: 4 of 5 stars for a unique world and characters that can be defined by their phrases.

Content: Violence, sorcery, and strange curses. This book is intended for adults. Ages 18+

Page Count: 400 pages in the hardcover edition

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