Its been so long since I've read a straight fantasy that I've almost forgotten what its like. Don't get me wrong I love my urban fantasies, my romance...moreIts been so long since I've read a straight fantasy that I've almost forgotten what its like. Don't get me wrong I love my urban fantasies, my romance fantasies...but I miss my straight ones. Glenda Larke is a favorite of mine from her 'Isles of Glory' books (of which I still haven't read book 3...), I'd even put her on par with my enjoyment of the Mistborn books or Tredana books honestly.
Stormlord starts out rather bleakly. Terelle has a dark future ahead of her as a handmaiden in Madame Opal's snuggery. As a handmaiden she's basically little better then a Geisha--she is company for men, sings, dances, plays musical instruments--but with the added duty of being a pleasing companion in bed as well. Mind you she's only 12 years old, her father sold her into this life and her older half-sister Vivie keeps telling her to suck it up and go with the flow.
From there we head to where Nealrith, son of Granlon (a cloudmaster, ie: very important guy), is visiting the water cisterns with Kaneth, his friend. Things are bad, the water levels being no where near where they should be. The solutions presented by Kaneth are both impossible and morally black, but the options are few. Is it better to be rid of a great many to save a few or should they all perish the same, slow, death?
There is a number of different intrigues going on--politically, personally and wide spread. Its not just that the water shortage problem is just now occurring, the problem is that its happening when there hasn't been enough Stormlords. In the last decades only a handful or so of potentials have been born and through disease, death and inability none of them are suitable for the position.
As one should expect from Larke's writing the narrative is lush with details. The layers of society are pretty simple to understand, but the world itself is more complex. From the religion (there is the Sunlord and the Raingiver--both practical given the world and concerns) to the social hierarchy (the more water sensitive you are, the better off you will be) Larke weaves an intricate net of survival.
I found myself liking Kaneth and Ryka despite some of my earlier misgivings. Kaneth is something of a playboy, until recently not prone to overthinking matters or worrying over the future. Current situations being what they are he's beginning to take a more active stance. Is it too late however? Ryka is a bookish woman with a slightly bitter attitude towards men (and Kaneth in general) and marriage. She is however someone you want beside you, she is intelligent, quick-witted and thinks on her feet. She's fiery as well, but that can sometimes be to her detriment.
I am, of course, impatient to read the next volume. With the North American release not until March 2010 (cry with me) and the subsequent volumes not being released until March and September 2010 in Australia, it feels like a loooong wait.
I will say this, I like the Australian cover much more then the US one. I think it fits better. The US/Orbit cover looks kind of like Gail Z. Martin's Necromancer cover and I don't think green is the best color to have.(less)
I'll say it right up front, the fact this book has so much Myrnin in it kind of made me smile in a silly way. After I finished it and after all the.....more I'll say it right up front, the fact this book has so much Myrnin in it kind of made me smile in a silly way. After I finished it and after all the...not so great moments passed. I'll be honest, this was an intense book in many ways. Not only does it mark a turn in the story for Claire and co., but we learned some...horrifying and bleak truths about the Glass House crew as well.
This is likely my favorite Morganville Vampire book to date. The conflicts in this book had more to do with a personal nature then in past books. Shane having to come to grips to what happened his family all over again, Michael coming to grips with what happened to him, Amelie and Oliver rehashing some old disputes, Myrnin...well. I don't think you could ever had said that Myrnin had moved past his past regrets to begin with, so really it was more Myrnin reverted to 'Nothing else matters but my pain' mode.
It was painful to read about what Claire went through to get the machine running. Her recovery rate was a lot quicker than I would have expected however, but when one trauma feeds into another trauma (that's possibly equally life-threatening but even worse mentally/emotionally) she's learned to adapt well. Claire is a practical girl, she knew as well as anyone else that if she gave in--completely gave in to her depression and despair--nothing would ever be solved.
The Morganville books have always been a step higher than 'teen' in my opinion. Though Claire is not quite 18 yet, she is in college and she's living on her own (away from her parents that is), so this feels more like an adult novel much of the time. Maybe because Claire is much more mature than one expects. Regardless her relationship with Shane is still strong and the two are very close. Her parents' words to her, about why they disapproves of Shane so much, are uneasily fore-telling. However later Shane says something unexpectedly sweet to Claire that I think speaks volumes for his regard and feelings for her.
The ending is...uneasy. A lot goes on, some of which seemed almost superfluous to the plot given everything else that happens, but the ending is a little bit shocking and disconcerting. It served to reassure me that Myrnin is still Myrnin however. And technically what he did wasn't against the laws of Morganville, just against the laws of decency and respect. Two concepts which he often ignores anyhow.(less)