RogerBW's Blog

The Storm Witch, Violette Malan 22 February 2022

2009 fantasy, third in the Dhulyn and Parno series. Our mercenary heroes are forced to take a long ocean voyage to mediate between shipbuilding nomads and the land power they trade with; things go comprehensively wrong.

There's a strike against this book for me: what I enjoy most about this series is the Dhulyn and Parno double-act, and not only does Malan separate them again, for much of the book each thinks that the other is dead. (There's a shipwreck involved.) Parno stays with the nomads while Dhulyn gets involved with the vaguely-Persian? Mortaxa, and their Storm Witch, wielding a sort of magic that hasn't been seen since the Caids fell.

Which is all fantasy cliché scaffolding, but then Malan makes it interesting. The Storm Witch is a Caid-era person who's ended up in a contemporary body, and who's neither heroic nor villainous but an individual who tries to do what she thinks is best within the confines of her personality. And basically the same applies to everyone else too: some are better people than others, but they all are people, with their own priorities, rather than merely being Good or Bad.

The action is brief and almost secondary: the meat of this book is in finding out what's going on and changing things so that there doesn't need to be a huge war. I like all these people, and that overcomes my general dislike of settings where magic can basically do anything that the plot needs at that moment.

Vg nyfb ernyyl urycf gung juvyr gur Fgbez Jvgpu guvaxf fur'f erfcbafvoyr sbe gur qbjasnyy bs gur Pnvqf' pvivyvfngvba, gunaxf gb n zntvpny sbhy-hc, fur vf va snpg jebat. Malan has a knack for sidling up on a cliché and then subverting it.

All right, I think if Malan could get away from the fantasy trappings she might write something even better, but that's my taste and fantasy still sells. (Though perhaps not thoughtful fantasy like this; for whatever reason, this series doesn't seem to be well known.)

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Previous in series: The Soldier King | Series: Dhulyn and Parno | Next in series: Path of the Sun

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