Wind by K. J. Taylor is the first episode of a four episode serial being released one episode per month. As far as serial episodes go, Wind is a great size, equivalent to a short novel or a long novella, which I read over a handful of sittings. Voyager: Impulse haven't exactly knocked it out of the park with their foray into serialized storytelling, their previous attempts simply a decent sized novel chopped up into novella length chunks, but with Drachengott, Taylor has given this first episode a specific arc while contributing to the overarching plot of the Drachengott story. It's just a shame that the story itself didn't work for me.
The story follows Rutger von Gothendorf, a furrier / tanner who spends most of his days swinging his sword at make-believe enemies in the hope of one day avenging his brother's death. When heading out for another day of sword swinging he meets Swanhild, a magic-wielder, who is looking for someone like Rutger to accompany her on a quest to free everyone from the oppression of the Drachengott, his army of dragons, and his legion of magic-wielding followers. Rutger and Swanhild train together, Rutger is given the ability to use elemental magic, and then they set off together to defeat the Drachengott.
Wind is a story that is suffering from an identity crisis. It wants to be a dark book dealing in dark things like revenge and cold-blooded murder, but the prose, plot, and thematic exploration so simplistic you might think this book was written specifically for primary / elementary school kids who probably aren't the best target audience for dark stuff like revenge and cold-blooded murder. Taylor seems to be going for a Grimm Brothers feel (it’s a very Germanic book flecked with other European style countries), complete with a fairy-tale style of omniscient narration, but it just doesn't work here. This book is crying out for some complexity, whether it is a more nuanced exploration of death, an appreciation of simple logistics like food and water, or even some basic exposition. I'm not sure who Taylor's target audience is, but at times it seems like a ten-year old would be too old for this book.
For an author as talented as K. J. Taylor, Wind is a disappointment. Technically there are no real issues: the book has a beginning, middle and end, there aren't any plot holes, it was easy to read and never confusing, and there are some diverse characters who do stuff to move the plot forward. But this book is missing a spark, it's missing a compelling reason to keep reading, it is far too predictable, and it is missing the types of elements that make fantasy interesting. I will probably give the second episode a shot, but unless there is a great improvement I'm not sure I'll bother with the rest.
Review by Ryan Lawler
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