Hello, BookNerds! It is my stop on the Blogtour for this absolutely incredible and epic fantasy. A big thank you to @Orbitbooks @Gambit589 (Nazia) for the ARC and a spot on the tour for this brilliant read!
Goodreads Synopsis: War built the Kisian Empire. War will tear it down.
Seventeen years after rebels stormed the streets, factions divide Kisia. Only the firm hand of the god-emperor holds the empire together. But when a shocking betrayal destroys a tense alliance with neighboring Chiltae, all that has been won comes crashing down. In Kisia, Princess Miko Ts’ai is a prisoner in her own castle. She dreams of claiming her empire, but the path to power could rip it, and her family, asunder.
In Chiltae, assassin Cassandra Marius is plagued by the voices of the dead. Desperate, she accepts a contract that promises to reward her with a cure if she helps an empire fall. And on the border between nations, Captain Rah e’Torin and his warriors are exiles forced to fight in a foreign war or die. As an empire dies, three warriors will rise. They will have to ride the storm or drown in its blood.
CW/TW: Murder, mentions of rape, body horror/gore, suicide mentioned, I may have missed some but any usually present in epic adult fantasy may also appear.
— Strong, Unique And Witty —
The Writing Style/Narrative. We Ride The Storm, by Devin Madson is brilliantly written with strong, unique and witty prose that is distinct and clever. Madson’s writing is epic and descriptive with a balance of beautiful and gruesome metaphors and imagery that brings the story and settings to life. Each scene is vibrant and realistic which easily draws you into this epic world. Madson cleverly manages to clearly explore the complex political, social, economic and familial frictions and conflicts that are embedded into the wider story without coming across as confusing or dense – on the contrary the book is easy to fly through, the prose flows excellently and the dialogue is a strong and compelling mix of humour, wit, sarcasm and emotion.
The story is told from three main perspectives each in the first person narrative. The writing is so captivating and compelling because it comes across as so genuine, each characters narrative has a clear voice and a strong personality that shines through – the humour is genuinely funny, the sarcasm is witty and dry, and each character/voice is individual and dynamic. The three separate perspectives are powerful and effective when it comes to telling the story and gives a clear insight into the main characters and their motives as well as a unique look at their home, culture, and customs since each of them are from a different part of this world.
I loved the multiple pov in this book and thought it was done in a very refreshing way, each perspective gives us a very unique and distinct view of the main war that is brewing in the book and yet it is refreshing because we are not getting the stereotypical view of two opponents destined to face off, it is much more complex and exciting as only one of the main characters actually holds an interest in the war itself, the other two (though involved) have more complex roles that cause them to become entwined in this battle. This was an interesting narrative choice and a brilliant one that kept me intrigued from start to finish, I loved the way the three characters become involved in the political and violent conflicts as it wasn’t a simple good versus evil or this army against that – it was fascinating and thrilling.
Overall the writing and narrative choices were effective and compelling allowing the story to flow well and gave us adequate insights into the characters.
— As Unpredictable As It Is Thrilling And Intriguing —
The Story/Plot. We Ride The Storm is an epic and phenomenal story that is as unpredictable as it is thrilling and intriguing. We follow three characters; Miko – a princess of Kisia and daughter of the Emperor, Cassandra – an assassin and prostitute from Chiltae, and Rah – a Captain of his Levanti Swords and exile. Right from the start you are thrown into this story and it never lets you go – it is compelling and unpredictable with high stakes and high risks. As an alliance between Kisia and Chiltae crumbles, the hard won peace is put at risk and deadly plots are put into play.
I loved this story and the twists and turns it takes – it was constantly shocking and surprising, the tension and mystery was built up well and the pay off was effective and powerful. What I loved most was that this story had actual risks and Madson does not shy away from killing off characters and showing us their actual skills. Cassandra is an excellent example of this as she is an assassin who actual has the skills of one and shows us this – Madson’s characters are not just talkers like in so many other books they are skilled and it is their proficiencies that land them in the web of lies and deceit brewing in the middle of this war and this truly makes this story because it is significantly character driven.
The first part of the story is from Miko’s perspective. Miko is the Kisian Princess and twin sister to Prince Tanaka, who they hope will be named heir to the throne. The two are unfortunate, however, and have suffered many attempts on their life but are making the best of their positions despite this. Miko is to support Tanaka as she is a woman and therefore unlikely to be considered as an heir and we follow her as she attempts to prove herself and her capabilities in the midst of the war between Kisia and Chiltae. The war storyline was incredibly intriguing and full of political intrigue – I really loved the power dynamics within the kingdom and surrounding the Emperor and his children. Princess Miko’s storyline was one that gradually grew more and more interesting as the character became more powerful and sly and I adored watching her maneuvers and found her to be far more resilient than initially expected – this gave a lot of strength to this element of the story.
The second element of the story is from Rah’s perspective – he and his Swords are Levanti who have been exiled from their homeland. This was also a very interesting element because we get a lot of insight into the Levanti without actually being able to see their land but we also get to see the opposing side of the war, the Chiltae’s side. The Levanti have a lot of honour, misunderstood by those from Chiltae and Kisia, and are excellent fighters who are unwittingly drawn into a war they do not wish to be a part of. I found it to be highly intriguing to watch the internal struggles of the Levanti and their Herd amidst the hardships of the Chiltae’s control as it was a highly personal view of the war, differing from the strategic Princess’ perspective. I loved how this dealt with identity, values and culture as it added a lot of depth to the wider story and the fluctuating allegiances of war, this was especially fascinating since Rah is only interested in protecting his herd instead of the war itself and is striving for safety.
The final element is from Cassandra’s perspective. This was probably the most amusing of each storyline as Cassandra has a quick wit and isn’t afraid to do what needs to be done. Her element of the story is interesting because she is not interested in the war either and has a goal seemingly individual from the other characters, she wishes to find the Witchdoctor and to do so she must fulfil a contract. Cassandra has her own personal problems to deal with, the primary one being ‘Her’ and this drives her part of the story. Cassandra wishes to be free of ‘Her’ but as a reader we get very little information on this which builds more suspense and intrigue. This perspective was one of my favourites because there is so much we don’t know – Cassandra is good at what she does resulting in her ending up in the middle of the war as a pawn with her own agenda but there is a lot of mystery surrounding the quick witted character that leaves you desperate to read more. I loved this perspective because it added so many layers to this already epic and intriguing world.
Not only is the storyline impeccable but the world itself is epic with a rich history, mysterious magic, decades of allegiances and politics teetering on the edge of a precarious cliff. The world-building is expertly handled and easy to absorb as it is introduced naturally as the story progresses. Though we learn a lot about the alliances and the different cultures and values of the different citizens there is also a lot about the world we do not know in terms of magic etc… making you want the rest of the series straight away! This book is a perfect start to the series with a lot of mystery and promise being built up for the future.
Overall this story/plot is brilliant, it is well paced, character driven, and a phenomenal mix of violence, danger, war, politics, and individuality. It constantly shocks you with it’s epic twists, the high stakes makes you emotional and the humour is refreshing – this story is a perfect mix of everything you want from fantasy.
— Well Developed, Multi-Dimensional, Realistic And Flawed —
The Characters. The cast of characters is actually quite significant and diverse in the book but I’ll only be focusing on the main three to avoid spoilers. However, every character from the main to the side are well developed , multi-dimensional, realistic and flawed making them interesting to read about and I loved them all (a particular nod to Leo – because I honestly could not make him out he is brilliant, The Emperor – because he was fascinating due to the balance of being cruel and yet stable and clever enough to maintain the Kingdom properly, and Gideon – because he was interesting and complex).
Miko. Princess Miko was interesting because she knew exactly where she stood and was incredibly strategic but was at a loss due to the lack of information she could receive. While Miko is clever, skilled and sly she is flawed and can be rash by taking things too far. However, she is a clever talker and a clever Princess, knowing exactly how to utilise her skills to help her kingdom even in the face of oppression from the majority of the men in the kingdom. Her character is inspiring and unafraid to do what she believes is right, nor does she shy away from a battle – empathetic and kind as she may be, I believe she is much more lethal than anyone expects or at least has the potential to be. I really loved this character by the end of the book and found she became more and more admirable and interesting as the story went on.
Cassandra. Cassandra is hilarious and witty but also highly skilled and deadly. She is a character who claims to be good at her job and actually shows us that she is. Everything about this character is built on the foundation of wanting to survive, and her determination is impressive. Cassandra has a constant companion known as ‘Her’ a voice, a thing, that lives inside her and has some intresting abilities which only seems to make Cassandra more intriguing. Cassandra is ruthless, clever and hilarious but can be too headstrong and impulsive – her flaws make her more real and much more compelling. Her goals an ambitions are more single-minded, and I look forward to seeing more about this – the concept of Cassandra and ‘Her’ was truly fascinating.
Rah. Rah is a Levanti Captain, striving to protect his Swords, his herd, and is kindhearted in spite of his ability to tear down armies. The Levanti are excellent warriors but Rah takes their values seriously and wants to fight only for what is right, for their freedom after having been exiled. Though the Levanti are seen as ‘barbarians’ by the Kisian and Chiltaen’s Rah proves they are quite the opposite being a rather sentimental character who has deep connections with those he trusts and loves. His honour and heart seem to be his flaw as it consistently puts him in troublesome situations. I did love this character and admired his ability to stick to his beliefs in the face of hostility from those he once trusted. A compelling and strong character.
The characters were all incredibly well written and very dynamic and in-depth. I can’t say much more on any of them without giving away spoilers though!! But I will say that they are all incredible, and though they all seem of different sides you end up rooting for them all. The characters and their relationships are very well done evoking sympathy and empathy when needed and bringing devastation when you attach yourself to them!
Overall. This is an excellent start to an epic series. It is unpredictable, full of excellent characters, has high stakes and shocking twists, a brilliantly rich world and clever prose that masterfully portrays the complexities of war, politics, and identity. I loved everything about this book and was gripped from start to finish and I cannot wait to read the sequel.
*Thank you to Nazia @Gambit589 @Orbitbooks for my ARC and a spot on the #Blogtour in exchange for an honest review*