#SPFBO 2018 Finalist | We Ride the Storm – Devin Madson

About the Book

War built the Kisian Empire and war will tear it down. And as an empire falls, three warriors rise.

Caught in a foreign war, Captain Rah e’Torin and his exiled warriors will have to fight or die. Their honour code is all they have left until orders from within stress them to breaking point, and the very bonds that hold them together will be ripped apart.

Cassandra wants the voice in her head to go away. Willing to do anything for peace, the ageing whore takes an assassination contract that promises answers, only the true price may be everyone and everything she knows.

A prisoner in her own castle, Princess Miko doesn’t dream of freedom but of the power to fight for her empire. As the daughter of a traitor the path to redemption could as easily tear it, and her family, asunder.

As an empire dies they will have to ride the storm or drown in its blood.

444 pages (paperback)
Published on June 7, 2018
Author’s webpage
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This is an SPFBO finalist.

We Ride the Storm is an SPFBO finalist. Also, I need to say at the start that I loved this book so much it’s almost ridiculous. There’s only really one complaint I have about the book itself and it’s so minimal I’m not even sure I should list it. I don’t know if it’s worth the time to write it out.

First of all, this book is told through three different perspectives, all of which are first person. Now, this is my little tiny complaint. Until I got really into the book, the perspectives sort of blended. Each chapter is featuring a different character, so that made it a bit easier, but, for example, when chapter three started, I was briefly confused as to who I was reading about.

That being said, chapters one through three were really the only parts of the book where I had to catch up on who was being featured in which chapter, and that might have only been because I was really tired when I started this book out, so take this minor negative for what it’s worth. Is it really confusing? Probably not. Was I tired when I started this book and does that impact how well I process what I read? Probably.

It takes some time to get into this book. There’s a lot of setup in these first few chapters, a lot of exposition so readers will be prepared for what comes next. However, the setup is all necessary to understand and appreciate what comes next. I will also say, there’s a lot of information packed into this book and it’s all given to readers in really interesting ways. Yes, there’s exposition, but I never felt like I was reading a textbook, or any less than completely engrossed and entertained.

We Ride the Storm never quits. You start it out with a group of people collecting heads (Be still, my grimdark heart) and this really interesting religion involving said heads. Then it goes to a prostitute/thief in a city, and then to a noble character. At first, none of these threads seem to be related in any way at all. It takes until you’ve visited each character about two times that you start seeing how these various storylines intersect. I loved how strong all the characters were, and how all their different personalities and desires ended up mixing together to strengthen the story while never diminishing their individuality.

Around the middle of the book I felt like I was constantly having some sort of heart attack due to all the plot twists, revelations, deaths and other happenings to characters you least expect it to happen to. It was quite amazing to me how Madson didn’t just keep things going, but she kept it complex, and full of surprises.

This book, friends, is absolutely relentless and I couldn’t get enough.

The writing was stunning as well. I love authors that can mix some lyrical, almost poetic writing with some heavy, dark plots and Madson does that so well. She uses words the same way a chef might use a knife. They are tools. She thrusts into her readers so deftly you almost don’t realize that you’re cut until it’s too late. The flowing style balanced out some of the darker moments. There were a number of points where I re-read passages just so I could absorb how Madson wrote it.

We Ride the Storm is dark fantasy done right. There’s a lot going on, and it never stops. It’s also beautiful, and deep, with characters that jump off the page. This book really surprised me. I expected to like it. I didn’t expect to love it.

I noticed recently that Madson has been signed on with an agent, and good. She deserves it. She deserves to be gobbled up by some major publisher. I expect to see this series in bookstores soon. Mark my words, Madson is going places, and if this book is any clue, she’s going to be an author worth watching.

Devin Madson is going places.

5/5 stars

(SPFBO score: 9/10)