Thursday, February 25, 2021

Review: Queen of Storms by Raymond E. Feist

by Raymond E. Feist
Release Date: July 4th 2020
2020 Harper Voyager
Kindle Edition; 437 Pages
ISBN: 978-0062315816
ASIN: B0151V4S14
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

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 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.

My Thoughts
Queen of Storms is the second book the The Firemane Saga trilogy, and in this one Hatu and Hava are trying very hard to avoid those who seek Hatu due to his heritage, although he seems more interested in the life he is building with Hava rather than keeping his eyes and ears open to really learning what is happening around him.  I enjoyed this second entry to this trilogy to a certain point, but I find Hatu to be somewhat naive despite all of the training he had received over the years and this frustrates me to no end.  

The character development was pretty spotty in this instalment and I sometimes wondered if the author was running out of ideas in this book and borrowed some from the Riftwar books thinking readers wouldn't notice.  There were also some things that were glossed over quite easily, but were actually quite important such as Hava having had very little training on a boat in the first book, but suddenly she was able to do what she was doing in this one? I went with it because hey, I was open to the idea that maybe the author forgot that one tiny, smidgeon of a detail.  But now suddenly, you have another character who was able to fight like he had been training his whole life and another, who had been training his whole life, get taken really easily?  Okay, maybe now I am starting to get a bit suspicious as to what is really going on. So, then, we have a Baron, whose territory encompasses many port towns, and he was unaware that all of these boats were in his waters planning to attack his shores?  Wait, there is no navy. So, twenty years after another country was totally annihilated and no planning for an invasion was done? Sounds like many of the countries after WW1.  Yet, they knew that something was going to come, just not from where, so WHY NOT PLAN? 
You would think with these problems I didn't enjoy the book, but you know what? I did.  There were many books in the Riftwar megaseries that I wasn't overly fond of but I kept reading and suddenly, you get this absolute gem of a book.  No, this one wasn't a gem, but it wasn't horrible either. The writing is actually rather solid, and Feist has this way of making you care about his characters even if you are biting your cheek in frustration over their actions and some of the tediousness.  It does take quite a while for the action to get going though, but when it did, it exploded.  It just wasn't consistent and I really think a bit of editing could have cleaned it up (and perhaps the author didn't use his notes when he write this book?) especially as the never-ending recaps weren't always on point. Personally, I think I could have skipped the first book and read all I needed to know in this one, which was not typical of this author.  And Hatu spent a lot of time whining about how to return to Hava.  Wait a second!! Aren't these two assassins with a job to do?  Especially Hava?  She is supposed to be this lethal weapon, but I didn't really see a lot of that in this book, to my disappointment.  
Queen of Storms definitely has potential, and overall, I enjoyed the story.  Yes, I got picky about certain things when discussing the book, but I have been reading this author's books since I first picked up Magician in 1982 and have always loved his books, more or less.  I really liked the fact that he was creating a new world with brand new characters, and I think it will take time to find his groove.   I liked Hatu and Hava and the other characters, but I really felt like the author wasn't sure what he wanted to do with them, or how he wanted them to develop, which is why it seemed a bit scattered.  This author writes good stories and I am convinced he can take these characters in a direction that will blow us all away in the next book.