Synopsis: Fionn is the wielder of a legendary Tempest Blade, and he is blessed – or cursed – by the Gift. Though his days as a warrior are long over, his past leaves him full of guilt and regret. Life, however, has other plans for him, when he agrees to help a friend locate a missing person.
Gaby and Alex never expected to become heroes… until they met Fionn. As an ancient evil arises and consumes the land, Fionn must help them to master their own Gifts and Tempest Blades.
Together the three of them, and their friends, will chart a course aboard the flying ship Figaro to save the planet. Will Fionn’s past be an anchor, or will he overcome the one failure from his former life before time runs out?
In a world where magic and science intermingle, anything is possible.
Including second chances.
First let me say that the story is excellent. The worldbuilding is the best I’ve seen in any high fantasy. The story kicks off with a climactic battle that introduces Fionn, our hero. In a shocking twist Fionn is killed at the chapter’s end. We then see him hundreds of years in the future being called in for one last job by his detective friend, Harland. Moreover, we learn of an ancient conspiracy and meet other younger heroes like Fionn. Who have survived death and been granted “The Gift”. A Force-like power that manifests as extra senses and magical ability. An attack on a magic school where Fionn’s daughter Samantha studies leaves Fionn almost dead. Thereafter our heroes lick their wounds and undergo mystical training to better harness their powers. A final showdown on an eldritch abomination like ship sees Fionn vanquish Byron. The now-undead prince whom Fionn served under.
As I said, the worldbuilding in Tempest Blades: The Withered King is exceptional. Although a little heavy handed at times. There are some brilliant funny moments as well as some touching moments of true companionship. The fight scenes are easily the strongest parts of the book. One thing that stood out was how they met Mekiri at exactly the time they needed to meet her, which to me seemed a little contrived. The climactic final battle put me strongly in mind of the first Avengers film. Personally I would also love to see other parts of Fionn’s life explored, which could be the subject of a short story collection set in this world. This universe has titanic potential for more stories set in it.
I enjoyed how magic and technology existed side by side in the story. The initial time jump from Fionn’s death to Harland’s office hooked me. The descriptions of Ravenstone, the magic school. Were also gorgeous. The author has a real talent for visual description. The descriptions of the Dreadnought and Professor Hunt’s study were great too.
Personally I was in two minds about Fionn. He seemed arrogant and abrasive at times. However there were some great moments like when his spirit reached out to Gaby to break her out of the Ice State. I also enjoyed how Fionn wanted to protect the younger characters and not involve them in his personal dispute with Byron, the antagonist. I liked how Alex seemed to be almost a younger, less experienced version of Fionn. Despite this, I felt that Byron was not developed well enough for us to really want Fionn to destroy him. We learn that Byron is a racist and a fascist but we don’t see why he does what he does, except to gain power. While I believe it’s right that people who hold those views should not be presented positively in any way. Byron’s start of darkness could be explored in a further book.
Gaby and Sam and others
I really loved how supportive and kind Gaby was throughout the book. It was great when Gaby claimed the Ice State for herself and refused to be controlled by it. Sam was a great portrayal of a teenager who was just starting to come into her power. It was touching when Queen Sophia encouraged Sam at the book’s climax. I also enjoyed the ship tease between her and Alex. It will be interesting to see how Sam’s Gift manifests in future books. I thought Gaby and Fionn’s moment together was lovely and a great way to end the book. I also enjoyed the Sid/Harland bromance as well as Harland’s friendship with Fionn.
Tempest Blades: The Withered King is well worth your time and money. While the story structure is somewhat generic the characters and their universe are engaging enough to make this a worthwhile read. Definitely give this one a go.