Originally published in the Canberra Weekly on 6 August 2020.
This review can also be found on the Canberra Weekly website.
Publisher: Harper Voyager (Hardcover – 14 July 2020)
Series: The Firemane Saga – Book Two
Length: 471 pages
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Legendary fantasy author Raymond E. Feist returns to his new series, The Firemane Saga, with Queen of Storms, an amazing and exciting fantasy novel that takes the reader on some intriguing adventures.
I have long been a fan of Raymond E. Feist and his epic works of fantasy. His long-running Riftwar Cycle books were amongst some of the first fantasy novels that I ever read and many of them, including the excellent Empire trilogy that he cowrote with Janny Wurts, are still some of my favourite books of all time. After finalising the Riftwar Cycle back in 2013, Feist released King of Ashes in 2018, which was the first book in The Firemane Saga. I really enjoyed the fun and compelling new story featured within King of Ashes, and I have been looking forward to seeing how the series continued for a while now. This second book, Queen of Storms, continues right after the events of King of Ashes and has some intriguing new twists and turns for readers.
In the ancient and magical world of Garn, war is coming to continent of Tembria and its first blow will fall on the trading town of Bernan’s Hill. Many people call Bernan’s Hill home, but none are more mysterious than the new owners of the town’s inn, Hatushaly and his wife Hava. Despite their simple outward appearances, Hatu and Hava were born on the secret island of Coaltachin and both serve their continent-spanning criminal and spy network. A series of mysterious events have been occurring throughout the kingdoms and lands of Tembria, and Hatu and Hava are tasked with observing Bernan’s Hill and reporting anything out of the ordinary.
Having befriended the town’s blacksmith, Declan, Hatu and Hava appear content in their new lives and are they are planning to be officially married during the midsummer festival. However, even their training and information will not prepare them for the horrors that are about to be visited upon Bernan’s Hill, as a new and mysterious force attacks without warning, plunging the entire continent into war. Separated from each other, each of these young people embarks on their own adventure. While Hava attempts to find her lost husband, and Declan sets out to get revenge, Hatu is kidnapped by those who wish him to fulfill his fiery legacy as the secret heir to the kingdom of Ithrace. His family, the legendary Firemanes, have long been rumoured to contain a spark of magic, and Hatu, as the last remaining Firemane, may hold the key to the survival of magic itself. As these three young people set out to realise their destinies, they will experience horrors and tragedy as it soon becomes apparent that a whole new threat seeks to destroy all within Tembria.
Queen of Storms was a captivating and fun book which I found myself reading in only a couple of days due to how much I enjoyed it. Feist has come up with a fantastic and impressive story within this novel, and I liked how it followed a group of excellent characters caught up in the chaos of a mysterious war. There is all manner of action, adventure, subterfuge, character development and exploration of a new fantasy universe that comes together extremely well into a compelling overall narrative. Readers should be forewarned that Feist makes some rather bold plot choices throughout this book, with a major event around halfway through the book really altering the course of the story in some interesting and dramatic ways. I also liked how Queen of Storms served as a great sequel to King of Ashes, and there are a number of amazing reveals and revelations that add to the storylines established in the first book. For example, the real antagonists of this series are revealed in more detail in this sequel after they were foreshadowed in the previous novel while the reader focused on a different antagonist, who had the potential to be the main villain. This bait-and-switch came together well in Queen of Storms, and I enjoyed uncovering more about these antagonists and their motives.
Queen of Storms contains a multi-character narrative which follows several key protagonists as they explore this new world from Feist and get involved in the politics and battles of the world. The majority of the story is told from the perspective of the novel’s three major characters, Hatu, Hava and Declan. Each of these characters gets some substantial focus throughout the course of this novel, with some interesting storylines. For the first part of the book their various storylines are very closely intertwined, as all three are based in the town of Bernan’s Hill in various capacities. However, after the novel’s major event around halfway through, these three characters are separated and each of them embarks on their own exciting and enjoyable adventure. Hatu’s story is a classic tale of a chosen one finding his destiny, which sees him journey off into the unknown to learn more about his past and his secret abilities. As Hatu is the most central protagonist, this storyline got a lot of focus, and it was interesting to learn more about his role in the world and about how his life is bonded to the world’s magic. Declan’s story becomes an interesting one about a young man learning to become a solider to avenge the death of his loved ones. Declan had some life events occur throughout this book and while it was a little sad to see some of the things he fought for in the first novel go up in smoke, it does serve as a good motivation for his character and it looks like Feist has some interesting plans for him in the future. Out of the three, I think I ended up enjoying Hava’s storyline the most. Hava attempts to find out what happened to Hatu and gets captured by slavers. She ends up using her abilities to free herself and her fellow slaves and becomes a successful ship’s captain, chasing after her husband while also exploring the lands outside the continent of Tembria. All three of these main character arcs are really enjoyable and together they form a fantastic heart for Queen of Storms, allowing for a rich and powerful narrative.
In addition to these main characters, Feist also utilises several minor point-of-view characters who add in some extra narrative threads to the book. For example, Donte, Hatu and Hava’s childhood friend who was captured by sea witches in King of Ashes, returns and a small part of the book is dedicated to his attempts to find Hatu and kill him. You also get several parts of the book told from some of the key players in fight for the continent, such as Baron of Marquensas Daylon Dumarch, the sinister adviser Bernardo Delnocio, as well as a handful of other characters. Each of these minor point-of-view characters provide their own insights and priorities to the mix and their various storylines and actions add a lot to the narrative and provide some interesting support to the main storylines. I also liked some of the supporting characters who rounded out the cast of Queen of Storms and several of them proved to be quite enjoyable and likable, even if they have a greater chance of getting killed off. Overall, Feist continues to write some great characters in this novel, and I look forward to seeing where each of these intriguing protagonists end up next.
The author also did a good job of continuing to expand on the amazing new fantasy world that the series is set in. While a substantial part of the novel is set around Brenan’s Hill, which was introduced in the prior book, the story eventually starts to examine some other parts of the world. In particular, several storylines are set around the islands and continents on the other side of the planet, none of which have been explored by any of the point-of-view characters. These new additions to the story proved to be quite intriguing, especially as the character’s various explorations revealed some shocking truths about the world, as well as some troubling revelations about the series’ main antagonists. It looks like the next book is set to feature some new areas of the world and should provide some more fascinating expansions down the line, which will no doubt provide some interesting backdrops and settings from the narrative.
While I did really enjoy Queen of Storms, I did find that some of the elements within it might be a little hard to follow if you had not read the first novel in the series. Feist does do a good job of recapping the major events of the first book throughout the course of the story, but there were a few moments in the story when the significance of certain characters, locations and events were not as highlighted as they could have been, and new readers might get a little lost at this point. There were even a few points at which I lost track of who a new character was, mainly because of the two-year gap between reading King of Ashes and Queen of Storms. Still, I was usually able to remember who the character was after some prompting, and it worked out fine. While this lack of certainty might occasionally impact the flow of the story for new readers, I think they can generally follow without too much difficulty.
Queen of Storms was an outstanding and exciting second entry in this fantastic new series from one of my favourite authors of all time, Raymond E. Feist. This was an amazing and enjoyable novel, filled with adventure, great characters, and a compelling narrative. I had an awesome time reading this book and I cannot wait to see how Feist continues The Firemane Saga in the next book. A must-read for fans of fantasy fiction; this one is really worth checking out.
WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words, where bloggers share the books that they’ve recently finished, what they are currently reading and what books they are planning to read next. Essentially you have to answer three questions (the Three Ws):
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?
So, let’s get to it.
Demon in White is the third book in the epic Sun Eater science fiction series, following on from Empire of Silence and Howling Dark. I am a massive fan of this series and I have been really enjoying the elaborate and detailed overarching narrative that Ruocchio has come up with. I only just started this behemoth of a book, but so far it is proving to be rather good, with some interesting developments for the protagonist. I think that this is going to turn into an amazing read and I am looking forward to getting through it.
The latest World of Warcraft expanded universe novel, Shadows Rising, which ties into the upcoming Shadowland expansion and works to bridge the gaps between the previous expansion and this new one. I have not made too much progress with this audiobook so far, but I think it is going to turn out to be an excellent fantasy adventure.
Star Wars: Shadow Fall by Alexander Freed (Trade Paperback)
I am hoping to get a review for this book up soon.
Star Wars: Doctor Aphra by Sarah Kuhn (Audio Drama)
Queen of Storms by Raymond E. Feist (Hardcover)
That’s it for this week, check back in next Wednesday to see what progress I’ve made on my reading and what books I’ll be looking at next.
I have been having an absolutely fantastic week for books, as I have been lucky enough to receive several incredible and amazing new novels from some of my local publishers. As I am anticipating getting a few more books in the near future, I thought I would take this opportunity to highlight some of the recent releases I have received before my new book pile got too big. These novels include some truly awesome new releases, several of which I have been eagerly awaiting for some time. I am extremely keen to read all of the books below and I cannot wait to check them out.
The first book that I received is the compelling third book in the Sun Eater series, Demon in White, by Christopher Ruocchio. I have been loving the Sun Eater series over the last couple of years, and both of Ruocchio’s prior books, Empire of Silence and Howling Dark, have been extremely impressive reads. As a result, I have been really looking forward to Demon in White and it is actually one of my most anticipate releases of 2020. I am planning to read this next, although it is a rather lengthy book that could take me some time to get through.
The next entry in this Book Haul post is the intriguing fantasy novel A Dance with Fate by Juliet Marillier. I enjoyed the first book in this series, The Harp of Kings, last year and I look forward to seeing how Marillier continues the story in her latest novel.
This is another fantastic book that I have been really looking forward to. This is the second novel from Turton whose debut book, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, was simply outstanding. I am extremely keen to see how The Devil and the Dark Water turns out and it should prove to be a really incredible read.
This is an intriguing sounding murder mystery that looks set to utilise the always enjoyable true crime podcast plot device. I have heard some good things about this author and I look forward to seeing how this book turns out.
Now this could be a fun one. Under Pressure is an exciting new thriller with a very cool premise behind it. I have high hopes for this book and it should prove to be an enjoyable and captivating read.
The Space Between Worlds is an amazing sounding science fiction debut that follows someone with the ability to walk through various parallel universes. I really like the plot concept that Johnson has come up with and I think it is going to result in an excellent book.
This is another interesting murder mystery that will also utlise some true crime documentary elements in its story. This one sounds like it is going to be rather dark and it should make for a gripping read.
The final entry on this list is Queen of Storms by Raymond E. Feist. I saw this book in the book store the other day and could resist buying a copy, mainly because I am a major fan of Feist as he is easily one of my favourite authors. Queen of Storms is the sequel to Feist’s 2018 release, King of Ashes, and I know that I am absolutely going to love this new book.
Well that’s the end of this latest Book Haul post. As you can see I have quite a bit of reading to do at the moment thanks to all these awesome books that have come in. Let me know which of the above you are most interested in and make sure to check back in a few weeks to see my reviews of them.
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, participants need to list the top ten books on their Winter 2020 (or Summer 2020 for those up in the Northern Hemisphere) to be read (TBR) list.
There are some rather fantastic-sounding novels coming out in the next couple of months, and I am quite excited for a number of them. Surprisingly, producing this list did not go as smoothly as some previous TBR lists that I have done. This is because several books I was hoping to include have been delayed since the last time I looked them up, presumably due to the coronavirus outbreak. While this is a little disappointing, I was still able to come up with a good list of Winter TBR books, and the entries below are some of my most anticipated releases coming out in June, July and August 2020. I have previously addressed several of these books before in my weekly Waiting on Wednesday posts, and there is also likely to be some crossover between this list and some of my previous Top Ten Tuesday lists, such as my Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2020 list and my Predicted Five Star Reads list. I have also chosen to exclude any books that I have already read or have started reading (such as Stormblood by Jeremy Szal). Overall, I think I came up with quite a diverse list of books.
Devolution by Max Brooks – 16 June 2020
Out of Time by David Klass – 21 July 2020
The Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde – 30 June 2020
This is a really quirky and entertaining novel that I received earlier this week, which I think could be a lot of fun to read. Jasper Fforde is an author who I have enjoyed for years, and I had a great time reading his last book, Early Riser. His latest book, The Constant Rabbit, sounds absolutely bonkers as it features anthropomorphic rabbits moving into a human town and facing prejudice in a satire of racism in the UK. I am sure I am going to laugh myself silly with this book, and it should be a really unique read.
The Gates of Athens by Conn Iggulden – 4 August 2020
Conn Iggulden is an extremely talented historical fiction author who has produced some amazing novels throughout his career, including his last book, The Falcon of Sparta. His upcoming novel, The Gate of Athens, is the first entry in his new Athenian series, which will take a look at the major wars of ancient Athens. This is probably going to be one of the best historical fiction books that I am going to read in the next few months, and I cannot wait to check it out.
Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir – 4 August 2020
Last year I was blown away by the incredible Gideon the Ninth, which was part fantasy, part science fiction, part murder mystery and 100% non-stop fun. Gideon the Ninth was easily one of my favourite debuts of 2019, and I am extremely excited to read the sequel, Harrow the Ninth. This upcoming novel seems set to continue the crazy adventures of the first book, and I am really looking forward to seeing where the story goes after Gideon the Ninth’s shocking conclusion.
The Night Swim by Megan Goldin – 4 August 2020
The Night Swim is the next intriguing release from Australian author Megan Goldin, and it looks set to be one of the most compelling mystery novels of 2020. I really enjoyed Goldin’s previous book, 2018’s The Escape Room, which I ended up reading in a single night, and I am looking forward to getting through the author’s next compelling story.
How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It by K. J. Parker – 25 August 2020
The final book on my list is How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It by bestselling fantasy author K. J. Parker. Parker is a really clever writer who has produced a huge number of impressive fantasy novels over the year. His previous book, Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, was an incredible read and it was one of my favourite books of 2019. Due to how much I enjoyed his last book, and because How to Rule and Empire and Get Away with It might have some intriguing connections to Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, I have extremely high hopes for this upcoming novel, and I think it is going to be absolutely amazing.
Well that’s my latest top ten list. I am very happy with the final list that I pulled together, especially as this is a great mixture of impressive-sounding novels. I think each of the books listed above have incredible potential, and I cannot wait to read each and every one of them. Let me know which of these books interests you the most in the comments below.
Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy. I run this segment in conjunction with the Can’t-Wait Wednesday meme that is currently running at Wishful Endings. Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them. For this week’s Waiting on Wednesday, I check out an upcoming novel which I recently predicted will get a full five-star rating from me, Queen of Storms by Raymond E. Feist.
Queen of Storms is one of those books that I know I am going to absolutely love well before I actually read it. This is mainly because it is written by one of my favourite authors of all time, Raymond E. Feist. Feist is easily one of the best fantasy authors of the last 40 years, having created an amazing body of work with his long-running overarching fantasy series, The Riftwar Cycle, which started way back in 1982 with his iconic debut novel, Magician. I am a massive fan of these books, as it was one of the first big fantasy series that I ever got into. I particularly enjoyed Magician (I did a re-read of it a few years ago and it still holds up) and I routinely reread The Empire trilogy (co-written with Janny Wurts), every couple of years. Feist finished The Riftwar Cycle back in 2013 (it featured 30 books by the end) and has now moved on to a whole new series.
Queen of Storms is the second book in The Firemane Saga, which is completely separate from the events of The Riftwar Cycle and started in 2018 with King of Ashes. King of Ashes was an incredible book which presented an excellent new fantasy adventure in a compelling new world. I really enjoyed the amazing story that was featured within this novel, and it did a great job of introducing the universe, the main characters and the overarching series narrative. As a result, I am exceedingly excited to check out Feist’s sequel and I cannot wait to see where he takes the story next. Queen of Storms is set for release on 14 July 2020, although a detailed plot synopsis and two impressive covers are currently available.
Hatushaly and his young wife Hava have arrived in the prosperous trading town of Beran’s Hill to restore and reopen the fire-damaged Inn of the Three Stars. They are also preparing for the popular midsummer festival, where their friends Declan and Gwen will be wed.
But Hatu and Hava are not the ordinary loving couple they appear to be. They are assassins from the mysterious island of Coaltachin, home to the powerful and lethal Nocusara, the fearsome “Hidden Warriors.” Posing as innkeepers, they are awaiting instructions from their masters in the Kingdom of Night.
Hatu conceals an even more dangerous secret. He is the last remaining member of the legendary Firemanes, the ruling family of Ithrace. Known as the Kingdom of Flames, Ithrace was one of the five greatest realms of Tembria, ruled by Hatu’s father, Stervern Langene, until he and his people were betrayed. His heir, Hatu—then a baby—was hidden among the Nocusara, who raised him to become a deadly spy.
Hatu works hard to hide his true identity from all who would seek to use or to destroy him, as fate has other plans for the noble warrior. Unexpected calamity forces him to make choices he could not have dreamed awaited him.
A series of horrific events shatters the peace of Beran’s Hill, bringing death and devastation and unleashing monstrous forces. Once more, the Greater Realms of Tembria are threatened—and nothing will ever be the same again.
This sounds like it is going to be an outstanding novel, and after reading the above synopsis, I am sure that Feist is going to produce another compelling tale of magic, intrigue and adventure. There is honestly no chance that I am not going to absolutely love Queen of Storms, and I am going to have a hard time waiting until July to get this book.
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly series that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. In this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, we need to list the top ten upcoming books on our to-read list that we think will be five-star reads. To that end, I have scoured through those upcoming books that I want to read for those exceptional sounding entries that I think I will end up awarding a full five stars rating to.
There are actually quite a few novels I am planning to read that I think have the potential to get a five-star rating from me. I have already identified several of these books in my Waiting on Wednesday posts, as well as in my prior Top Ten Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2020 list. Not only do all of these books have amazing-sounding plots, but quite a few of them are either written by an author I really like or part of a series that contains entries that I have previously awarded five-star reviews to.
There were quite a few upcoming books that I felt could have been included this list, but I ended up culling it down to my top ten favourites (in addition to my usual honourable mentions section). I decided to only include those books whose titles and plot synopsis have been officially revealed, as that made it easier to determine whether I am likely to award it a five-star rating. This does mean that I had to exclude several books that are coming out in the next year which have not been officially announced or which we know very little detail about. This includes sequels to some of my favourite books of 2019, include Rage, The Bone Ships, Starsight and A Little Hatred, which, while I know nothing about them now, I am extremely confident that they are going to be incredibly awesome. In the end, I was able to come up with a great list of books that I am happy with, so let us get to it.
The God Game by Danney Tobey – 14 January 2020
The only book on this list that I currently have a copy of, The God Game sounds like an amazing read, and I have heard some great things about it from some other reviewers. I am planning to read this book next, and based on its cool plot, I think this book has a real shot of getting a full five stars from me.
Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson – 25 June 2020
Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s debut book, Blood & Sugar, was an outstanding piece of historical crime fiction that got a full five stars from me and was one of my favourite debuts of 2019. This second book is set to explore another intriguing murder in 18th century London, and I am hopeful that the author’s second novel will be just as good as her first.
Queen of Storms by Raymond E. Feist – 14 July 2020
This is the sequel to 2018’s excellent King of Ashes, which is written by one of my favourite authors, Raymond E. Feist. I am a huge Feist fan and I have been looking forward to this book for a long time. I really enjoyed the intriguing new story that Feist came up with in his previous novel and I cannot wait to see where the story goes from here.
How to Rule an Empire and Get Away With It by K. J. Parker (cover not yet released) – 25 August 2020
One of my favourite books of 2019 was Parker’s exceptional fantasy novel, Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, which featured a desperate attempt to save a besieged city by a bunch of engineers and their duplicitous commander. This new novel, How to Rule an Empire and Get Away With It, appears to contain a similar story, except that this time the book will focus on a playwright whose talents are utilised to win a siege. Based on how incredible his previous novel with, I am really excited for this upcoming book, and I fully expect it to be another funny and compelling five-star read.
The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett – 15 September 2020
There is absolutely no way that the new epic novel from Ken Follett is not going to get a full five stars from me when it comes out later this year. Follett is another one of my favourite authors, and he has produced some incredible pieces of historical fiction over the years. The Evening and the Morning is the prequel to Follett’s iconic The Pillars of the Earth, and is set over 100 before during the Dark Ages. This is sure to be another captivating examination of history that explores the lives of several great characters over a period of years, producing a truly compelling story. This is going to be a massive read, but I am sure I will deeply enjoy every single page of it.
Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff – 17 September 2020
The next book on my list is an incredible-sounding novel from Australian author Jay Kristoff. Kristoff, who is best known for his young adult fiction, is working on an adult fantasy novel which focuses on a world where vampires rule after the sun failed to rise one day. This book will apparently chronicle the life of the last vampire hunter, who attempted to save the world but is now imprisoned by the vampires and awaiting his execution. I have to admit that I really like the sound of this upcoming book, and I think that Kristoff is onto a real winner with this intriguing story.
Hollow Empire by Sam Hawke – 1 December 2020
Hawke’s debut novel, City of Lies, was a fantastic story about a family of poison experts as they tried to win a siege and keep their king safe from treachery, which was easily one of my favourite books of 2018. I have been looking forward to Hawke’s sequel for a while now, and Hollow Empire is currently set for release later this year. I have really high hopes for this sequel, especially as Hawke is apparently branching out into witchcraft and war in this new book.
Well, that’s it for this week’s list. I truly think all of the above books have the potential to be five-star reads, and I cannot wait to get my hands on all of them. Let me know what you think of the above books in the comments below, and tell me which upcoming pieces of fiction you think have the potential to be five-star reads.