Storm Dancer (Dark Epic Fantasy)

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Dahoud is a troubled hero with a dark past. Could you trust him with your life, with your freedom, with your love?

Magic, Intrigue, Danger, Love, Battles, Demonic Possession.

Dark epic fantasy. More

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Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Published: Sep. 11, 2011
Words: 160,350
Language: English
ISBN: 9781465716651
About Rayne Hall

Rayne Hall writes horror and fantasy fiction. She is the author of over forty books in different genres and under different pen names, published by twelve publishers in six countries, translated into several languages. Her short stories have been published in magazines, e-zines and anthologies.

Recent books, currently published in e-book format, include:
"Storm Dancer" (dark epic fantasy novel)
"The Colour of Dishonour. Stories from the Storm Dancer World"
"Six Scary Tales Vol. 1, 2, 3, 4" (creepy, atmospheric horror stories)
"Writing Fight Scenes" (practical instructions for writers)
"Writing Scary Scenes" (practical instructions for writers)
"The Word-Loss Diet" (self-editing for authors)
"Writing About Villains" (practical instructions for authors)
"Writing About Magic" (practical instructions for writers)
"Six Quirky Tales Vol. 1" (humorous fantasy stories)
"Six Historical Tales Vol. 1"
"Six Historical Tales Vol. 2"
"13 British Horror Stories"

Storm Dancer is also available in paperback.

She is the editor of the Ten Tales anthologies: "Bites: Ten Tales of Vampires"
"Scared: Ten Tales of Horror"
"Haunted: Ten Tales of Ghosts"
"Cutlass: Ten Tales of Pirates"
"Beltane: Ten Tales of Witchcraft"
"Spells: Ten Tales of Magic"
"Undead: Ten Tales of Zombies"
"Seers: Ten Tales of Clairvoyance"
with more titles coming soon.

To view short exciting trailers of some of these books, go to http://pinterest.com/raynehallauthor/rayne-hall-s-book-trailers/

After living in Germany, Mongolia, China and Nepal, she has settled in a small Victorian seaside town in southern England.

Rayne holds a college degree in publishing management and a masters degree in creative writing. Over three decades, she has worked in the publishing industry as a trainee, investigative journalist, feature writer, magazine editor, page designer,production editor, concept editor for non-fiction book series, anthology editor, editorial consultant and more. Outside publishing, she worked as a museum guide, apple picker, tarot reader, adult education teacher, trade fair hostess, translator and belly dancer.

Rayne also teaches online classes for writers. Topics include Writing Fight Scenes, Writing Scary Scenes, Writing Short Stories, Creating Great Villains, Tightening your Writing Style, and more.
The next class is in September: "Writing Short Stories to Promote Your Novel"

The author portrait is by the artist Fawnheart.

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Dark epic fantasy novel, "Storm Dancer" by Rayne Hall Artwork by Paul Davies, Erica Syverson and Fawnheart.

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Reviews

Review by: Marie Hogebrandt on Dec. 28, 2013 : star star star star
I started reading this one day, put it down because the very well-written and incredibly detestable villain made me want to hurl my tablet into the wall. Picked it up the day after and didn't put it down for more than dinner breaks until I'd finished it.

Dahoud is a dark hero, seeking redemption against his own urges, and Merida is an arrogant woman who slowly comes to the startling realisation that her country is not superior to everyone else.

I enjoyed it a lot, the world is incredibly detailed with some amusing tidbits in the various cultures that make it come to live. It certainly is not a case of "generic medieval fantasy" or anything like that, this is well-written and takes you for a dark, horrific ride.

What I would like to warn about is that there might be some triggers, since there's fairly detailed torture and some (far less detailed) memories of atrocities such as rape.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Megan Strong on Sep. 17, 2013 : star star star star
From beginning to end Storm Dancer is packed with detestable villains, action, intrigue, and darkness. It shows how different people can be depending on where they come from and how they can strive (or are forced) to change. The writing kept me interested from beginning to end. I must admit that I had to stop myself from going to the end to relieve myself of anticipation.

This novel was given to me in exchange for an honest review. Please visit me at http://www.theproductschool.org to view my full review.
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Theresea Wasson on May 08, 2013 : star star star star
Duplicate because I forgot to add the stars.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed this book, and hope that there is a sequel in the works. A bit slow in a few places, and a few spelling/grammar errors that had nothing to do with the British way of spelling (in no way detracting). The story of Dahoud and Merida is a compelling story of overcoming personal demons and scruples in order to save the country. Plenty of spoilers have already been given about this book, so I won't go further into those. The author picked a great place to end the book, with enough questions left unanswered to wet your appetite for more to come. I look forward to more from this author.

A brief warning that this book contains references to uncomfortable subjects (rape and torture) but the scenes are not explicit. If those subjects make you uncomfortable, I would stay away from this book. Not a book for young readers.(
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Theresea Wasson on May 08, 2013 : (no rating)
I received this book in exchange for an honest review. I enjoyed this book, and hope that there is a sequel in the works. A bit slow in a few places, and a few spelling/grammar errors that had nothing to do with the British way of spelling (in no way detracting). The story of Dahoud and Merida is a compelling story of overcoming personal demons and scruples in order to save the country. Plenty of spoilers have already been given about this book, so I won't go further into those. The author picked a great place to end the book, with enough questions left unanswered to wet your appetite for more to come. I look forward to more from this author.

A brief warning that this book contains references to uncomfortable subjects (rape and torture) but the scenes are not explicit. If those subjects make you uncomfortable, I would stay away from this book. Not a book for young readers.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: vicky Deal Sharing Aunt on April 18, 2013 : (no rating)
I have not read a book this dark in a long time. The warning needs to be a bit more clear. The rape scene is disturbing and there is also a lot of violence. It is a dark fantasy for sure.

However the characters are also epic. Dahoud character development is amazing, and the way he fought his inner demons was worth the read.

Merida is a weather magician. I didn't think that she would be good for Dahoud, and I had to keep reading to see how their relationship progressed. Dahoud soon realizes that Merida is not like the other women in his harem and is worth fighting for.

Will Dahoud be able to minimize his dark side so he can maximize his good side? Will Merida be able be able to trust him to treat her fairly?

There were other characters in the book that were also well written as was the book as a whole.

The ending was surprising to me even though I think that it could have been more elaborate., as were all the twists and turns in the book. I am giving this book a 4/5. I was given a copy to review, however all opinions are my own!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Kyra Halland on April 08, 2013 : star star star star
(I was given a free copy of this book for the purpose of giving an honest review.)

Storm Dancer is a big, sweeping, epic fantasy set in an exotic desert land, with colorful and compelling characters. Dahoud, possessed by a djinn who urges him to horrifying acts of rape and other atrocities, is fighting to control the djinn and make amends for the terrible things he's done. Merida, a magician and loyal citizen of the extremely ordered and rigid Virtuous Republic of Riverland, has been sent to the desert countries on a mission to bring rain and enlightenment. Their paths cross as both of them face setbacks and challenges on their repective quests, then finally join together when they unexpectedly find a common cause to fight for.

The writing is clear and colorful, painting a portrait of harsh, exotic lands. I have a soft spot for fantasy that takes place in desert settings, so I really enjoyed the setting of this book. I also sympathized with the characters as they struggled to make their way through this harsh world against the thoroughly nasty plotting of the main villain, Kirral. There were a few times when I wanted to give Merida a good shaking for her obtuseness and refusal to adapt to her new situation. Frustration with characters is a big reason why I don't finish books. But in this case, it seemed clear that Merida was being set up like this on purpose so that the readers could follow her through her process of growth and learning. She did learn and grow, and I took more than a little satisfaction in seeing her cut down to size and then becoming a much stronger and wiser woman. I also enjoyed watching Dahoud's progess as he came to understand the true nature of the darkness within him.

It's a long book, which I'm not complaining about because I do love me a good doorstopper. The plot did seem to lose momentum and focus a few times, particularly in the end of the first half or about in the middle third. The structure of the book could maybe use a little tightening up to stay more focused on Dahoud and Merida and their problems and what they're trying to do. But during these slower spots, I was interested enough in what was going to happen to the characters to keep reading. I also felt that there were places where the author backed off from really diving into the full emotions and experiences of the characters, just touching the surface instead of giving the full depths.

The end was satisfying, and I would enjoy reading the further adventures of Dahoud and Merida. On the whole, Storm Dancer is a rich, colorful, exciting, and rewarding read, and I enjoyed it very much.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Autumn Birt on April 07, 2013 : star star star star star
I actually first saw this book in a stack at my mother-in-laws. I loved the cover and read the back blurb, finding myself intrigued. The story line lingered in my mind long enough that when I ran into Ms. Hall on Twitter, finding Storm Dancer tantalizing me once again, I knew I’d read it.

What drew me to this novel was the setting: a fantasy story set in the desert. Plus, I was intrigued by the main character of Dahoud being both the hero and the villain, a man plagued by inner evil that he seeks to control. As a writer, I had to see how Ms. Hall pulled that off. She does it brilliantly.

The setting of a harsh desert country beset by drought, during a time equivalent to our bronze age, is rich and well written. Neighboring counties are a threat, even when it is assistance they send rather than war. Merida is such a beneficial ambassador, sent to help a land considered primitive by her refined homeland. The plotting of a corrupt government quickly entangles Merida far from home and without aid. She has only her wits and ability to call rain to keep her somewhat safe.

There are many great characters in the novel and each are unique in their failings and strengths. The interweaving stories along with what would seem to be inconsequential details thread together to impact the ending - a feature I admire in a story and author. The twists in the plot left me surprised. I never really knew where the story would go next, which was lovely.

As others have written, the novel is graphic with both torture and rape. Oddly though, I agree with others in that I think one of the few failings in the novel is that it could have been darker yet. The one time that Dahoud’s djinn wins its battle of lust and conquest, the scene is quickly glossed over. Most of the time, Dahoud wins over his demon with only hints of the time in his life where it had ruled. I would have loved a larger moment or at least a longer after effect of guilt when Dahoud succumbs to his inner evil.

I would have also loved some insight to Merida’s thoughts at the end of the novel, especially when she makes the final choice she does in the story. The ending to me was very believable as she changes during the course of the story, but I would have liked to hear that final epiphany from her.
Lastly, I would have loved a map to visualize the world, though directions and landmarks were consistent enough that I felt familiar with the landscape and cities. But a map to look at while reading would have enhanced my experience.

I will read this novel again in the future. I am a very fast reader, so the story length was great for me (it took more than a day, yeah!). However, it pulled me in so tightly, I raced through it finding it hard to put down. I want to go back without that need to see what the next page or chapter holds and really enjoy the setting and story!
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Monica Edwards on Sep. 25, 2012 : star star star star star
When I read a book I look for two things 1) to lose myself in the story and 2) to be connected to the characters. I absolutely love when I laugh, cringe, cry, or feel embarrassed for the characters. This is what great books should do, make us (readers) feel something.
Rayne Hall has accomplished both and much more with Storm Dancer. The characters were memorable and flawed without being tedious. Although there is some graphic content, it doesn’t take away from the story. If you’re looking for a great story that has characters who’ve made mistakes and are trying to atone for them than this is the book for you.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Review by: Ashley York on Dec. 28, 2011 : star star star star
• This story is set in a fantasy world of sadistic rulers and harsh living conditions. Creating believable characters that struggle with inner demons and desires, Hall seemlessly spins epic battle scenes and edge-of-your-seat drama. Developing character stories made the beginning a little slow (it's a fantasy world after all) but when the story took off, it was hard to put down. Warning: Not for the squeemish
(reviewed long after purchase)

Review by: Karysa Faire on Dec. 26, 2011 : star star star star
Bravo! An excellent read! I loved Storm Dancer, by Rayne Hall, a dark fantasy set in an ancient Persian-esk world. The characters were complex, vividly drawn and faithful to their role in the story. The world was detailed, realistically written so that my senses were pulled into the tale. I had to force myself to put the book down in order to get some sleep-and then I tossed and turned as I replayed the last-read-scene in my head.

What I liked:
Dahoud and Merida have lived their lives at the opposite end of the moral spectrum. Woven between politics, war, class divisions, and cultural missteps, is the story of how these two complex characters ultimately transform and meet somewhere in the middle of that spectrum. I fell in love with both of them and cheered for each and every realization they had.

The supporting characters are delicious. Teruma, Kirral, Keera, Tarkan. Each has an important part to play in the story of Dahoud and Merida, but they are developed enough to stand alone as individuals deserving their own tale.

On the flip side:
It is a dark tale that does not go dark enough. Without giving too much away, rape is a dark theme throughout. It’s alluded to, and the ‘thrill’ of overpowering a victim is described. However, when an actual rape occurs, it’s glossed over, as if the author is afraid of offending the reader. The story is already dark-a really dark scene would have made it that much more gut-wrenching and powerful. It would have been awful to read, but it is also a pivotal moment in the development of the characters.

In the last quarter of the book, Merida goes through some monumental changes in attitude and perception. While her changes are plausible based on the plot, there is a lack of internal dialogue from her point of view. I wish we’d had as much access to her process as we had in the first three-quarters of the tale. It would have made for a richer character transformation.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Kathleen Frost on Dec. 24, 2011 : star star star star star
Dahoud of the Desert had a dangerous, violent past driven by the parasitic jinn who existed inside him. He’d done things as the conquering Black Besieger that now sickened him but he’d faked his own death and was trying to conquer the violence of the Jinn’s urging to rape and control women. There are two short scenes from the past that might disturbs some readers, but the real story is Dahoud’s conscience, his guilty over the past and his constant struggle to change and control that part of him, even when he’s forced back into a similar life.
The other part of the story is just as compelling. Merida comes from a very different land and has to force herself to adjust to survive the Queendom’s capital under circumstances considered sins in her world. She was requested to use her magic and dance for rain after a long drought but she’s betrayed and forced into the harem of the Queen’s consort. Knowing she has no one but herself to rely on, she escaped but is tracked down by the dangerous Dahoud leading her into even more dangers. I love the way the author set up insurmountable obstacles between the two main characters and how they react when the pressure mounts. It’s a wonderful story of growth and understanding, and most off all love and sacrifice. I give this one a 5 out of 5. Excellent job.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Gioconda Lyss on Oct. 19, 2011 : star star star star star
Gripping and Intelligent

“Storm Dancer” is a compelling, gripping read that will keep you interested from the very first page to the very last. I appreciated the amount of creativity and work that went into creating such a rich, detailed fantasy world that bears a strong oriental flavor, the mesmerizing eroticism and implied danger that come with it. This story has all the necessary ingredients to make this a tale that will satisfy a broad readership: a fast-paced adventure carried by life-like characters that have obstacles to overcome not only in their journey, but also in their hearts.

Dahoud, the main male character thinks that he is possessed by a djinn, and he blames the atrocities he had committed in the past on this possession. He has to overcome this in order to become the loving, tender man he wants to become for the woman he loves. Merida- the character that can summon rain with her magic dance- and the one who inspires the title of this novel, has to let go of all propriety and inhibitions that her upbringing instilled in her. They have very different paths that intersect several times before joining forces for a common purpose- that of bringing peace and freedom to the people of Koskara. The romantic thread between Dahoud and Merida softens the political, treason, war and intrigue threads in the novel.

Intelligent writing from this writer and a very satisfying, captivating story, “Storm Dancer” kept me interested from the beginning to the very end. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: Maeve Sawyer on Sep. 21, 2011 : star star star star star
This novel takes place in a fantasy world --- but it's not full of dragons and unicorns. It's reminiscent of the Golden Age of Persia, full of cryptic soothsayers, scheming consorts, and ruthless satraps.

The main character, Dahoud, has faked his death because he's sick of war and its atrocities. Unfortunately, as often happens in 20th-century thrillers, he's just too damn good at war for the powers that be to leave him alone.

When Dahoud is dispatched to bring a rebellious province into the imperial fold, he plots to second-guess his manipulators. The idea is to accomplish the goal through wits and diplomacy, rather than the bloodbath the throne expects (and hopes for). To do this, Dahoud must gain the trust of the locals.

But the locals are justly outraged by the empire's oppression, and want no part of Dahoud (except, perhaps, his severed head). Nor is Dahoud stepping into a leaderless power vaccuum: a charismatic, powerful chieftain already enjoys the people's respect --- and he doesn't like Dahoud any more than they do!

Farther along, the heroine Merida arrives at the palace --- like Dahoud, she's assigned from afar to help people who don't want her help. Her preferred method is to bring rain to parched lands with her magical "storm dancing". Merida and Dahoud each must navigate tangled webs of betrayal and intrigue before their paths inevitably cross.

The quality of a story like this depends on the obstacles placed in the character's way by the author . . . and this author is relentless.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

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