One of the books that has always captured my interest whenever I saw it on a shelf at a bookstore was Tom Lloyd’s ‘The Stormcaller’. First in ‘The Twilight Reign’ series, the cover and typography of the front cover always had me intrigued. That, and the fact that SFX is quoted on the front saying “Shows how high the bar has been raised with its sheer vision and inventiveness.”
All of this is true. The Stormcaller is massively inventive and its vision is vast, sprawling even, definitely in league with worlds created by authors like Steven Erikson.
But the book is still only almost brilliant.
One of the biggest problems some authors seem to have is their inability to feasibly refer to the vastness of their world. Characters are thrown around without any concern for whether the reader remembers them, and too often they bear names that are strikingly similar to other characters that have been revealed or are to be revealed, leaving the reader confused and floundering in a world that, while obviously impressive, falls down due to the author’s inability to properly portray.
Worst of all is the fact that I simply cannot wait to read the next book, ‘The Twilight Herald’. Stormcaller is magnificent in what the author does manage to realize, and leaves you wanting more. The story is captivating, heartfelt and rarely steps away from realistic despite dealing with an eighteen year old hero (of sorts) thrust into a world of politics, royal intrigue and formidable power.
Isak is our hero, and he is flawed enough that he swaps between being inexplicably whiny and relatable (which might be a comment on the human condition and not a flaw against the author). He is surrounded by powerful men and intelligent women, caught up in prophecies that are only ever half hinted at and given powers that are frightening.
And Tom Lloyd does manage to write well, most of the time. Amidst the sheer wealth of inventiveness and vision is a writer who knows how to write people, how to write a great battle scene and keep you interested the whole way through a book. With the story. The world around the story is the problem and I had a hard time continuing straight through the book. Many days were spent away from the book watching The Big Bang Theory or reading another book entirely. Only when I was within distance of the end did I sit down and plough through, Tour de France playing softly in the background.
But it was still hard going and I am not sure what I have missed because the author doesn’t want me to know it yet, and what I have missed because it was lost in some half hinted at prophecy mentioned on page 37 or something. This is Lloyd’s first book, and the praise for his writing only grows over the next four books, so I can only assume that his ability to realize the vast world that he has created for his characters improves. But for the moment, The Stormcaller is a little hard to lose yourself in when you are continually skipping to the back of the book to refer to a very bare-bones cast list.
Let me be very clear though, the torment of not knowing what you’ve missed is not enough to stop me recommending this book to you. The story is brilliant and really intriguing, and I cannot wait to see what happens next. Maybe that is the most telling part of Lloyd’s writing ability, and everything else will simply sort itself out in the following books.
Review by Alice Wybrew
Joe from Hong Kong
@Alice Wybrew....Wow. One of those rare times where I read a book review that absolutely mirrors my EXACT THOUGHTS. I could not possibly have put my own thoughts about "The Stormcaller" any better than this: "One of the biggest problems some authors seem to have is their inability to feasibly refer to the vastness of their world. Characters are thrown around without any concern for whether the reader remembers them, and too often they bear names that are strikingly similar to other characters that have been revealed or are to be revealed, leaving the reader confused and floundering in a world that, while obviously impressive, falls down due to the author’s inability to properly portray. " Absolutely spot on review... cheers, Joe
7/10 from 2 reviews