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We Ride the Storm: The Reborn Empire, Book One Kindle Edition
|Length: 529 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
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- Book 1 of 2 in The Reborn Empire
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"Madson has become a grim goddess of infusing palpable tension into the scenes within each chapter." - Novel Notions
"Madson has crafted a complex and immersive story that catapults the reader through a gripping series of adventures and doesn't let go until the final electrifying pages." - Fantasy Book Review
"We Ride the Storm completely blew me mind and is easily one of my favorite books of the year." - Forever Lost in Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
- File Size : 5989 KB
- Publication Date : January 28, 2020
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : Orbit (January 28, 2020)
- Print Length : 529 pages
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B083Z2KVJ7
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #365,677 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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There were a couple of elements that stopped the novel from being a four star novel. As I mentioned, each of the stories is told in the first person. This isn't a problem in and of itself. However, you don't know which character you're reading when you start the chapter. I found it very frustrating not knowing for several sentences or paragraphs (or, in one case, a page and a half) which POV I was in.
The other element I found frustrating was in how the Levanti slave-soldiers were handled. I found their capture, enslavement, and treatment to be hard to believe, given that they were supposed to be such fearsome warriors. I also thought their battlefield behavior (knightly/heavy cavalry) to be incongruous with their nomadic heritage.
Overall, a good book with strong characters. The writing and dialogue were both excellent.
As I’ve had the chance to read both the self-published and traditionally published versions, I can see how much got changed in the process. I’m happy to report that the few extra scenes and tightened plot here and there definitely did good for We Ride the Storm. I might not have caught all the changes – 2 years is a long time – but what I did catch were all great additions.
We follow the story through 3 characters’ POVs, all of them written in first person, which, if we are being honest a really bad-ass thing to do. But also hard to portray three very different character’s voice and personality. Devin Madson definitely excelled at it.
Rah – Levanti warrior, captain of the Second Swords of Torin. He and his Swords are exiled from their homeland for a cycle and find themselves in the middle of an ages long conflict between two empires: Kisia and Chiltae. He also manages to get himself into a conflict with another captain, Gideon, because of their different views. Their relationship is a layered one. At one hand, Rah sees him as his friend, brother even, someone he always looked up to. But on the other, their time apart brought on changes in both of them that makes a gap between them. Rah stubbornly tries to keep the old customs, helds honor above else and is loyal to a fault. He holds to his believes throughout the book. He is that character who you can’t help but look up to, because whatever the circumstances he always tries to do what he believes is right. Even if that has unforseeable consequences. Through his eyes we get to learn about the Levanti culture which is about as shocking to us as to the Chiltaens. Especially since the opening scene of Rah’s POV gets us right to this point. Let’s just say, I’m happy I wasn’t born to be a Levanti. Although I like their oath:
“We are the Swords that hunt so your hands may be clean. We are the Swords that kill so your soul may be light. We are the Swords that die so you may live.”
Miko – living in the Imperial Court, far from the outside world, under the influence of her mother Empress Hanna, who tries to use her children to get the upper hand against the Emperor, Kin Ts’ai. Miko and her twin brother Tanaka have their own plans to one day get the Crimson Throne and rule over Kisia, but things go awry pretty fast. Miko finds herself choosing between two opposite fractions only to decide to put her self-interest above everything else. Miko is a strong female character, although young, naive and inexperienced when it comes to full scale politics. But she is also clever and can find her own fate, not letting anyone to stand in her way. The first time around I found it hard to connect with her and she was my least favourite of the three. For the second time, I definitely warmed up to her. She needs to grow up fast and has to make some hard decisions despite her young age. I admired her resolve and the way she was able to put the Empire’s interest above her own.
Cassandra – “Whoresassin” as Leo puts it. She is quite troubled and against her better judgement she agrees to take a job which promises to get rid of her problem permanently. Out of the three, she is the most interesting, and most complex character, but she gets less space than the other two, which is a shame. Her interactions with Leo were the funniest and the most emotional of all. Also this plotline held most of the surprises which left me with my mouth hanging open. I’m really looking forward to see where her path leads. She was the only character I really got to care about, even though I liked the other two as well. But there is just something in Cass. Maybe the hardships she’s gone through, her struggle to get control over herself and learning about how to make compromises and care about others too. That her problems aren’t really just hers. Also, the name Cassandra reminds me of the Greek mythology. She was the daughter of King Priam and was cursed so no one ever believed her prophecies, amongst them the destruction of Troy. Anyway, one of my favorite part of her and Leo’s conversation:
“Now let’s keep moving before the sight of this damn place makes me piss myself.”
“As you wish, Your Whoreness.” He had taken a few steps but turned to look back over his shoulder. “Or should it be Your Assassinness? Whoresassin!”
Through the 3 POVs we not only get glimpses into three lives, but we witness a brewing war too. Nevertheless the main focus is on the characters’ lives and motives. There are a few battle scenes which are usually short and brutal. And far more head falls in this book than you’d expect. Maybe because of the switching between the POVs, the sense of time is a bit off. Things seem to happen too fast, especially toward the end.
Without the background knowledge of the previous trilogy it’s a bit harder to grasp the world in its entirety. Especially the feud between Kisia and Chiltae which is the main driver of the story. Sure, we get explanations here and there, but since we see everything through the characters’ eyes, our knowledge is limited to theirs. We only get the information necessary to follow the events. Which is fine, but sometimes it can get frustrating. Interestingly, this did not bother me during the reread, as I was so engrossed in the story that I hardly had any complaints.
The same goes for the cultural backgrounds of the Empires. We learn the most about Levanti customs and faith, but there are many other things left untold, which would add to the worldbuilding and shine a different light on characters maybe. Let’s take the Hieromonk for example: we learn practically nothing of the religion despite him being the head of the church. Or about his motives, except the obvious, but I’m sure we’ll do so in later books.
Devin Madson seems to have an undying love for beheadings and anything to do with a weapon having a pointy end, and though there are some indeed bloody scenes, it still manages not to cross that fine line where it ends up being utterly disturbing and/or pointless. Every kill has its purpose, and every battle scene is a dance. Every chapter has its own arc, and every ending is cathartic, which just makes you turn to the next page and it makes damn hard to put it down. If you’ll find yourself saying just one more chapter, don’t be surprised if you end up staying up far too late. Madson’s style of prose also helps things, when you get descriptions like this:
“Koi’s gatehouse stood over the road like a furious matron towering above a naughty child. Its boltholes glared down at us, and the imperial flag fluttered like the matron’s bloodstained apron. And between her legs the only way in or out.”
It’s freaking genius, if you ask me. And her subtle humor makes this read even more enjoyable.
We Ride the Storm is a strong, incredible even, first book, which builds up the conflict and leaves plenty of questions to be answered in later books. It’s a bloody, character driven, headless… err, endless fun. Devin Madson‘s voice is one worth listening to in the cacophony of the Fantasy genre, and I personally can’t wait to see how far she will get with the Reborn Empire series. Hopefully not too many heads will fall in her wake.
Now, that was not how the version I read started, as Madson was offered a traditional publishing deal (yay for her!) and made some changes. But, rest assured, there is still plenty of decapitation. Too much for some, but I've never been turned off by a little over-the-top violence.
The story follows three POV characters: Miko, Rah, and Cassandra. Rah is a huge warrior, an honorable dude whose moral compass and conviction gets him in trouble. I really enjoyed learning about his culture (nomadic horse people who cut off heads to release the juicy spirit inside) and he had some of the best philosophies in the book.
Cassandra—and her mysterious passenger—were probably my favorite. She’s a badass whoressassin possessed by a goddess (or something). Her interactions with a non POV main were some of my favorite, and I kept wanting to get back to her chapter. My biggest complaint was that she didn’t get enough page time, and that her ending seemed to lack some ooomph.
The final POV character, Miko, was a princess who was trying to survive in a patriarchal society while navigating politics (which, being young, she is fairly bad at). Her goal is what is right for the empire, and she has a couple glorious moments along that path. While not bad by a longshot, she was my l least favorite of the three. Her ending—a final battle—also felt somewhat rushed.
The writing, throughout, was a highlight, Madson has a way with words, and there were several noteworthy sections that felt great to read.
i felt like the overarching plot is tied together well. I understand how the characters relate to one another, even if they just meet in passing, and I appreciate the different perspectives that help you tie together the big picture. There are enough mysteries left that you keep reading to find out more.
Overall, I highly recommend this book to lovers of violent fantasy and Grimdark. I’ll be picking up the next book as soon as it comes out.
Top reviews from other countries
Devin makes the bold choice of using three first person POVs for her narrative style. At first I didn't know how this would work, but I can now confidently say it works very, very well. Each idiolect is distinct and unique to that POV, so that within the first paragraph or two, it's clear who is speaking. She also cleverly refers to place very early on, which grounds the POV further, and each POV has its own little symbol on the opening page of that chapter. It took me a while to catch on to those, but they're also a handy guide if there was ever a time you weren't sure which character was narrating.
I'm very much looking forward to the next book
My favourite character was Miko, a young princess who is resilient, calculating and very powerful. Much more powerful than her overbearing, male dominant society thinks. She comes into her own at about Chapter 20 (where she plays her ace card). What a fantastic character arc she has.
The book in its entirety is a brilliant journey that ducks and weaves between hope and complete gloom. I look forward to reading more of this series.