Monday, 24 September 2007
‘Storms of Vengeance’ – John Beachem (Mundania Press)
A couple of weeks ago I was having a good old fashioned moan about the lack of elves in the fantasy books I’m currently reading. Lets draw a veil over the fact that I’ve also been known to go on about how there are also too many elves in fantasy literature, a guy is allowed to think two things at once! ;o) When I picked up ‘Storms of Vengeance’ I was pleased to see a little elfish action going on inside…
‘Storms of Vengeance’ starts off as a simple murder mystery and by the final page has become so much more in terms of its scope. The kingdom of Faranin is enjoying a rare time of peace after centuries of warfare. As an aside and nothing at all about this book in particular, why is it that wars in fantasy literature generally last for decades if not centuries? Is it because all the generals are immortal and don’t have to worry about getting things done quickly? Anyway, back to the review (sorry!) Centuries of warfare are over but not everyone is feeling peaceful. An attack on the capital leaves a prominent councilman dead and too many questions without answers. Life for two young guardsmen is about to get very interesting and life for the kingdom as a whole is about to take a turn for the worse…
I don’t know much (if anything really) about the smaller publishing houses but it is good to see books of this quality coming from a source that isn’t so well known. It’s nice to see the talent being spread around more evenly. Beachem has created a world, and situations, that engage the reader and maintain interest throughout a story with plenty of twists and turns. This is a tale that benefits from not having large doses of background history (just as much as is needed) instead concentrating more on what is actually happening. I said earlier that there were elves lurking in these pages and as we all know, including elves can be tricky if you want to avoid falling into the cliché pitfall. Beachem avoids this by posing a number of questions, his elves, which he then proceeds not to answer. I was left wanting to know more.
Beachem asks a lot of questions and for me this proved to be his downfall in terms of the ‘murder investigation’ element of the story. I felt that things could have been kept a bit more simple (and effective) if the list of suspects wasn’t quite so long! The more questions asked, the more people became suspects and the more difficulty I had following the plot. By the end I was expecting the chief investigator to start quizzing himself about what he was doing on that fateful night… Events elsewhere may also make the reader question why so much emphasis is being placed on this plotline.
‘Storms of Vengeance’ is hard to follow (in that respect) but is an entertaining read nonetheless. If Beachem can get his list of suspects under control then I think the next instalment could be very good indeed.
Six and a Half out of Ten