Title: We Ride the Storm.
Series: The Reborn Empire #1.
Writer(s): Devin Madson.
Format: Advance Review Copy.
Release Date: June 23rd, 2020.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
There are worlds you read about that will strike you with the fear of God, leaving you anxiously content of the life you lead and the environment in which you evolve. Other stories bring you to dream about a voyage through time and space to experience firsthand an adventure unlike anything imaginable, to breathe the very air of the lands described by authors who master the art of story-telling. And then you find yourself discovering a world where danger lurks every corner, where war is part of everyday life, where characters are the only ropes which you can hold onto as you indulge the intricacies of the world and the events that unfold. It is these exquisite universes fancied by creative authors that make you wish that their characters were real, that their worlds were real, that the magic hidden among the people was real. Author of The Vengeance Trilogy, Devin Madson presents the first book of The Reborn Empire series and will stop at nothing in her quest to establishing herself as an imperative epic fantasy writer.
What is We Ride the Storm about? Set in the midst of a war where the tension between the Chiltae and Kisia regions rises, the story follows three distinct characters whose lives will inevitably intersect and provoke devastating consequences. In Kisia, the story presents Princess Miko Ts’ai who is bound by the customs of her castle as she becomes a political tool for peace or war. But driven with a desire to rule the Empire, she will have to learn the sacrifices that come with the ascension to power. In Chiltae, we are introduced to prostitute-turned-assassin Cassandra Marius who is nagged by a voice in her head who is the source of petulance and bloodshed. However, upon the arrival of a mysterious man with the promise of a cure to her voice in exchange for a hit that could begin a war, she embarks on a momentous journey that could change the faith of many. Between both nations lies Captain Rah e’Torin of the Levanti and leader of the Second Swords of Torin who was exiled to fight a foreign war. With a small crew, their hopeless fight brings them to uncharted lands where survival is but a luxury to these warriors.
“Even the smallest cog is important in the workings of the clock.”
— Devin Madson
Sheathed within a low-fantasy world dominated by history and an atmosphere of war, author Devin Madson does a phenomenal job in juggling a triple first-person narrative where each point of view offers a genuine and insightful exploration of the characters’ needs, drives, and motives. They all present a truly authentic characterization that makes it incredibly effortless for the reader to attach themselves to their plight and their singular charisma. Their interaction with the world around them also feels natural as well as their voice (or voices) that continuously stuns you in its tone and consistency. What truly stands out from these characters is the immediate transparency that is captured through the narration and that translates into a quick understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. While Cassandra’s chapters are by far the most intriguing albeit the shortest of the three, the tripartite narrative was brilliantly balanced and each character’s life trajectory was enthralling in their own way.
Where I see this series’ potential is in the focus on the political undertones that affect every character, the world-building that revolves around the upcoming war, and the discrete magic elements that ultimately feel promising. There is no doubt that this story contains a complex and intricate world where the dangers of the world gravitate around the characters, hides in plain sight, and assaults them when they least expect it. Rah’s culture offers a comprehensive taste of some truly gruesome beliefs within this world and paves the way early in the story to all the gore that the world has to offer. It is simply fascinating to watch it being unveiled as a reader. Filled with plenty of twists as well as mysteries (some that could’ve benefited from more exposition), the story is drenched in blood and remained dangerously intriguing from start to finish.
We Ride the Storm is a fantastic Asian-inspired fantasy world where war is at the heart of an empire ready to rise or fall.