Publisher: Orbit Books
Page Count: 480
Release Date: June 23rd, 2020
Series: THE REBORN EMPIRE, Book 1
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars – Really Liked It!
Note: I was provided an ARC by the publisher in return for my fair and honest review.
Tensions between the Kisian and Chiltaen Empires balance on a knifepoint. An official treaty between the two countries won’t happen until the Kisian emperor officially names an heir, and Princess Miko is determined that the heir be her twin brother Tanaka. Elsewhere, Rah, leader of a nomadic tribe, finds his people conscripted into the Chiltaen army, forcing Rah to find a way to keep the tribe safe while not losing their honor and traditions. And hidden amongst the attendants of a peace delegation from Chiltae to Kisia is the assassin Cassandra, commissioned to make sure the leader of the delegation dies at an appointed time. The stakes for Cassandra are personal – if she succeeds, her employer has promised to introduce her to an individual who can help her with supernatural problem that has plagued her since childhood. As war draws ever closer, the actions of all three of these warriors will affect the fate of thousands.
WE RIDE THE STORM is the kind of epic fantasy saga that keeps you constantly wanting to skip ahead, even as you eagerly plunge into the next chapter. While you might be tempted to sneak a peek to see where Rah’s story is going, Cassandra’s chapter is next and you REALLY want to know what’s going on with her. All three POV storylines are deftly woven together into a collision course trajectory, where one main character’s decision can drastically affect the life of another, even if they aren’t in the same country. And while the plot has a definite climax and endpoint, it’s clear that we have only seen the opening salvos in what should be a four-book series.
There’s always the danger when a book has multiple POVs that there will be a weak link, one character you are reluctant to return to. I’m happy to report that isn’t an issue here, as all three stories are equally engrossing, both because of the characters and the actual plot that’s happening. Cassandra is perhaps the standout, as the one person tied to actual magic in this world (more on that below), a character wrestling with her personal goals and the fact that if she goes through with her contract, she’ll be affecting not merely the lives of some minor household, but entire nations. Rah and his nomadic tribe were fascinating to read about, especially as Rah clashes with another member over the best future for their people. Miko’s story, while always fascinating, was at first mildly worrying as she begins the story a bit passive and naive. She’s not dumb, she’s just trying to play a political game with people who have been at it for decades, and is constantly three steps behind. Never fear, Miko will pick up the moves soon enough, to sometimes jaw-dropping effect.
As for the aforementioned magic, it’s exceedingly sparse. This is one of those second-world fantasies where magic is mostly the stuff of legend and rumor. Cassandra is the only one who is definitely dealing with something otherworldly: a voice in her head and the ability to detect nearby dead bodies. And while it becomes increasingly clear that magical and/or supernatural things are afoot, the characters in the know somewhat frustratingly dance around the issue in vague references, interrupted before they can explain further. A lack of definitive answers on this front was one of the very few complaints I had WE RIDE THE STORM. However, given where Cassandra’s storyline ends, I’m hopeful that the sequel is going to give me some of the information I crave.
WE RIDE THE STORM may clock in at nearly 500 pages, but it goes by in the blink of an eye. It manages to tell both the story of nations and the personal stories of three people literally just trying to survive as the rest of the world spins out of control. In the days that followed after finishing, I found myself mentally reaching to pick up the book again because I apparently couldn’t accept that I didn’t have more to read. An epic chain of events has begun in Kisia and Chiltae, and I cannot wait to see the last domino fall.