Speculative Fiction Reviews, Interviews, Art and Whatever Else!
Tyen is teaching mechanical magic at a school respected throughout the worlds. News arrives that the formidable ruler of all worlds, long believed to be dead, is back and enforcing his old laws - including the one forbidding schools of magic. As teachers and students flee, Tyen is left with no home and no purpose... except the promise he made to Vella, the sorcerer imprisoned in a book. Tyen must decide what he is willing to do to free her.
After five years among the tapestry weavers of Schpeta, Rielle's peaceful new life has been shattered by a local war. As defeat looms, the powerful Angel of Storms appears and invites Rielle to join the artisans of his celestial realm. But what will he require in return for this extraordinary offer?
Thanks to Hachette Australia (Orbit) for providing a copy of Angel of Storms for review. This is an honest review, in no way swayed or altered by Hachette being awesome.
Angel of Storms, begins five years after the events of Thief's Magic, with both Tyen and Rielle back to tell their side of the Milleniium’s Rule story. Both are leading fairly peaceful lives, Tyen now a teacher of mechanical magic, and Rielle dutifully breathing more magic into the world by creating art for the Angel. At least for the first few chapters, then everything is once again turned upside down for the two rather unlucky protagonists, forcing to make huge, life altering decisions. And, because such huge changes are made so quickly in the plot, it’s almost impossible to write this, in a way that won’t give the plot away!
The characters of Rielle and Tyen both have to battle some really tough challenges in this novel, both of them having to face the dilemma, that to gain something they want, they are required to do things they know will potentially hurt others in the process. For Tyen, it’s the potential to restore Vella to life, but to do so, he must betray those who trust him. Rielle must choose between settling for a life that would fill the void that has accumulated after having to leave her family and home, even though she isn’t emotionally fulfilled in the situation. Both of the decisions propel a host of far reaching consequences, that haunt them throughout the novel. Those emotional struggles are amazingly portrayed, and there is a real focus on how the characters deal with being in situations that can heal and harm at the same time. The consequences of those actions, are also beautifully dealt with, as other lives are twisted and contorted, in the aftermath. There is no action without a reaction; nothing done by the characters, is done with flippancy.
What really impressed me, is that even though I didn’t agree with so many of the decisions, I could still empathise with why they were made. That for me, is a true sign that the author has been able to create characters that are fully realised; allowing the reader to invest in their futures, even though you want to shake the bejeezus out of them. Nothing in Angel of Storms is cut and dry, and it’s a theme that continues throughout the whole book, without surcease.
One thing I will say, is that Angel of Storms felt much less gritty than Thief's Magic. There’s still a darkness to it, but there’s nothing to give gravel rash like Thief’s did. There was certainly no wanking priests, or mutilating baby making parts this time! It doesn’t detract from the book at all, it simply has a less venomous feel to it. Possibly due to Rielle and Tyen seeming to have more agency in how their own story plays out, rather than being attacked from all sides to keep them in a controlled position. Possibly.
The world building in Angel is, well, pretty darn massive because there are so many of them to explore! There is a constant changing of worlds as the characters travel around; each one with its own landscape, atmosphere, people and customs. Canavan always gives enough information to make each feel like an individual world, but never so much as to bog the book down with particulars that have no relevance to the story. That fine line between creating a fictional world, and being a discovery channel documentary is never crossed, as it stays with the information relevant to how the characters will need to interact with it. You can tell Canavan is also a visual artist, as her descriptions of the worlds paint wonderful images as they are explored.
The plotting in Angel of Storms is actually quite interesting, as it twists it’s way around some rather intense conundrums. However, there are times the plot actually feels misplaced, as if the order of the books is off kilter. This problem centralises at Rielle’s point of view, from about a third of the way through the book. Her parts become the sort of narrative you would usually expect to read in the first book of a series, and it becomes uncomfortably bland for a good deal of the time. I understand the reasoning, as some of the information gleaned in those chapters is crucial to the plot, but it’s dragged out to the point of causing pacing issues. When compared to the rest of the books intensity, and due to the book switching between POV parts, there is a continual reminder that it feels problematic.
I believe the issue is magnified, because of how the book begins; a whole host of new information is quickly fired off at the beginning of the book, and throws the whole world into a sort of tangential space for the reader. It rushes to let you know that everything in the first book isn’t quite what it seemed. The information is pushed so fast, it almost verges into feeling harried. So when Rielle’s POV backs right down, it feels sluggish, and it lose all of its momentum. When switching back to Tyen’s POV, it’s like being jolted awake, and it takes a while to really get back into the right frame of mind to inhabit his POV.
On a positive, It all comes back into focus, and starts grabbing ones attention again in the last section of the book. And once it’s off and running, it doesn’t stop… Even at the end of the book.. Great way to make me want book #3!
Sure, I had some issues with Angel of Storms, but all of the other wonderful things within made the negatives very much bearable. I’ll definitely be looking out for Millenium’s Rule #3! There is so much I need resolved, I can’t stop now damnit!