on Sep. 13, 2011 :
The Heartstone Chronicles: Windchaser by Michael Fraser takes place in a large and complex world. The Windchasers are a group of specially trained elite combat specialists who chase down demons that are let into the world through temporary rifts. One of these men, Darkmalian, is a darkling. He does his job with ruthless efficiency regardless of the consequences. It is suspected that he is a renegade and does not follow the laws working more his own benefit than for the good of the realm. However when an ancient prophecy that can save or doom the world begins to come true Darkmalian is the one that will decide what happens.
In any book where a world that is filled with complex religions, political ideologies, intense characters, and a lot of geographical regions there is a struggle to provide the proper information without slowing the story down. In some places of Windchaser I think the story did get bogged down a bit by the amount of information given. The information was important to truly understanding the world and motivations of some of the characters, but there was a lot of it at times.
That being said there were some very good characters including Darkmalian. While it is hard to empathize with him because of the things that he does we are given enough information to understand a bit of why he is the way he is. The training that windchasers go through is intense and Darkmalian's made most others seem like a walk in a park. There are also scenes of epic warfare of the good and not so good allied against seemingly overwhelming odds. The story has some familiarity to it, with a prophecy that can save the world coming to a head. This familiarity is minimized by the unique circumstances in the world and some of the beasts and technology truly shine. I seriously loved the idea of the windcannons.
I recommend giving this book a shot and sticking with it through a rough beginning as it comes into it's own in the second half for sure. For .99 you have nothing to lose and a very impressive world to immerse yourself in.
Copy provided for review.
(reviewed 6 months after purchase)
on May 27, 2011 :
It took my quite some time to get into this book, but I am glad that I kept going. The story begins with a young boy rescued by a wraith which takes him and trains to be a Windchaser: a daemon hunter. Thus Darkmalian is formed. We are then jumped forward to the present day and a world about to be torn apart at the seams.
One of the things that I dislike in novels is too much back tracking or history lessons, this book has too many for me. At the beginning of many chapters we are given another glimpse into Darkmalian’s past showing us how he was trained by the wraiths. All of these prologues are good on their own but it makes the story see-saw all the way through breaking up the smooth passage. Were all these pieces gathered together at the start they would make an excellent introduction to the novel and allow us to sail on uninterrupted. I mention this as my editor pulled me up for it. With that aside it is back to the story.
Complicated. There are so many factions with tiers and traitors and double-crossers that come at you right from the start that it is difficult at times to remember who’s who. Much of the first half of the book is filled with this information which I am sure could be pruned (again I have done this myself). I always kept in mind that this long novel is the writer’s first and there are few people that have written novels without making faux pas. With that thought in mind its hats off to Mr Fraser for getting his vision down on paper and explaining it to us as best he could.
Complaints aside there are many, many things that he gets right. Dialogue is superb. Each character has its foibles that come through as clear in their actions as they do in their speech. There is plenty of action; often gruesome and grisly, sometime breaking the boundary into horror. There is no doubting that Michael Fraser has a highly overactive imagination through which he has created his world. A world that he is determined that we share with him. There is one invention in this book that I truly love – the windcannon, a gun that fires charged bolts of air.
As we progress through the story it settles down to a race against time. Darkmalian becomes the reluctant hero and must get to the fabled Heartstone before the daemon-gods. Cities everywhere are under siege by the daemons that are rising in ever increasing numbers and varieties beyond counting. In Lothos Par, the main capital, the daemons are after the Heavenstair to Shanduskala (heaven) here they are fought by Winchasers, paladins and all many of rogues locked in a final battle to be the last man standing. It’s all down to Darkmalian. If he can get the Amberchild (angel) to the Heartstone then balance can once again be restored and the daemons returned to hell where they belong.
When all is said and done this a very enjoyable fantasy if not a bit gruesome in places. A very commendable first novel that is getting a sequel: Enchantersmith, which I shall be reading when it comes out. Complicated it is, confusing at times but in the end worth the effort a well fought for 3 stars and at $0.99 you have nothing to lose.
(reviewed 22 days after purchase)