My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I am late to the Cycle of Fire series; my introduction to Janny Wurts started with The Curse of the Mistwraith and never deviated series-wise. I read Stormwarden out of curiosity while I, like other devoted readers, wait patiently for Destiny’s Conflict. I was pleased to find that many of Wurts’s same themes and plot structure are here, although written on a smaller scale–Stormwarden proved to be a nice supplement for my Wars of Light and Shadow jones.
The Stormwarden Anskiere is bound by law by the King’s men and the sorceress Tathagres for the crime of destroying a city and murdering its inhabitants with his powers of wind and water. The boy Emien and his sister Taen, from the local village where the Stormwarden has been staying, are literally caught up in the event: Taen sneaks onto the King’s ship out of loyalty to Anskiere, Emien follows to retrieve her and both are taken permanently from their home as a result. Taen is resolute in her belief that Anskiere is innocent while Emien doubts him and falls further under the sway of Tathagres. A third child, the scribe-apprentice Jaric, is also tied to Anskiere and is compelled to go to the Stormwarden’s aid when he calls for help in defeating demons that have been loosed by Tathagres’s henchmen as part of her plan for mastery.
The above description sounds like pure high fantasy but the book actually becomes a genre fusion very quickly & will appeal to those who like a little cosmic adventuring in their swords-and-sorcery. Since so many of the novel’s plot elements were familiar to me, I couldn’t put the book down as I tried to figure out what this different configuration might imply for Wurts’s current series. This read was actually incredibly comforting and made me fall in love with Wurts’s work all over again. Stormwarden is a great introduction to readers who’ve been meaning to read Wurts but can’t bring themselves to commit to her larger series. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of Cycle of Fire and enjoying the unfolding series.