Friday, September 19, 2014

Fantasy Reading List: The Last Stormlord by Glenda Larke

Glenda Larke's The Last Stormlord is a book that I feel has been vastly underrated. It's not as well-known as the other books I've reviewed here, but it's still a great book.

One of the things that stands out most is the setting. It's in a desert. There's no medieval Europe here. Larke gave us a well-crafted setting and a great magic system that goes hand-in-hand with that setting. In fact, her marriage of setting and magic was partially my inspiration for Sunweaver. I created an entirely different kind of setting, but I used similar principles. That is, I crafted a setting that is harsh, where only the magic keeps the people alive.

With the setting being a desert, Larke wisely chose to craft her magic system around water. Naturally, those who are water sensitives are the prosperous in society, especially if they're Rainlords or Stormlords. Conversely, the Waterless suffer, relying entirely on water sensitives for their survival. This dynamic creates a harsh, highly stratified society, and that's great for conflict.

As for the characters, there are some common tropes. In Shale and Terrelle, we have two characters who start out as the poorest of the poor, with no hint of their powers. As any avid fantasy reader knows, they're going to go on to great things. For some, this might be a flaw, but I've always been a sucker for underdog stories. I also think these characters have more depth and personality than many others who adhere to this trope. They were characters I couldn't help but root for.

I thought the plot was good, especially toward the end when things really got rolling. However, it does get slow at times. That's where your enjoyment will depend on how well you've connected with the characters. Because I connected with them, I didn't mind some slower sections. This book is, I think, more character-driven than many of the others on my list. The plot is important, no doubt, but a lot of the book is seeing how the characters grow and how they react to difficult situations.

Part of the reason I thought this was a great book was because it actually had me in tears at the end. There aren't many books that do that, and those that do usually make it into my favorites list. I won't give away anything, though.

One more note: I thought the character Taquar was a great antagonist.

Rating: 9/10

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