I am so glad I happened to reread Sword in the Storm by David Gemmell. I had almost forgotten how very good it was. After reading the first book, I knew I would need to read the sequel, Midnight Falcon.
The hero of Midnight Falcon is a young man named Bane; he is the illegitimate son of Connavar. Bane's life has been far from easy especially since the death of his mother. Few would call him friend, but, few would want him as an open enemy. Bane is strong, fast, and a skilled warrior with some anger issues, perhaps, but with a developing sense of justice. It didn't take me long to love Bane. Yes, he might be a bit rough about the edges, but, he's a good guy.
The novel opens with Bane and Banouin (Vorna's son) traveling to Stone, deep within the Stone Empire. It is the first time for both of them to be traveling this far from home. Bane absolutely loves and respects Vorna, one of the few people in his tribe who have loved and supported him. He's always been welcome in their home, and, he's more than happy to help her son, who's a bit weak, a bit different, make it safely to Stone. But something will come between these two friends. The two befriend a beautiful young woman and her father. The two are trying to outsmart the Stone Knights hunting down followers of the Source, a "tree worshiping" cult forbidden in Stone by the emperor. The two have taken refuge in a little town on the outskirts of the empire. Bane and Banouin are welcomed into their home, and they enjoy each other's company for a day or two. Bane falls madly in love with the young woman; he wants to stop for her on his way back home; he wants to take her back with him as his wife. Bane and Banouin leave one morning, Banouin is acting very peculiar indeed. Turns out, Banouin has had his first ever vision, and he knows that this father-and-daughter will be slaughtered by Stone soldiers (or knights) that very morning. Bane eventually gets this information out of his friend, he rushes back, but he's a little too late. He's not in time to save lives, just in time to have his own life taken. His wounds should be the death of him, without the intervention of the Seidh they would have been. But he recovers and finds purpose. He knows the man who killed his love. He will do whatever it takes to kill him. That means for Bane years of training under a gladiator, Rage, and years fighting as a gladiator in Stone. He needs the training and the experience.
Two-thirds of this one is spent in the Stone Empire. Readers meet new characters, like Rage and his granddaughter. I absolutely loved, loved, loved Rage. I love how Rage and Bane bond, I do. I like seeing this relationship develop. Connavar was NOT a father to Bane, but, Rage can be. He teaches Bane a lot more than fighting skills and discipline. I liked spending time with "the enemy." I liked a glimpse of the Stone Empire: its luxury and its corruption.
The last third of the book sees Bane traveling back home and preparing for the ultimate battle to come. Will the Rigante and the other Keltoi tribes come together to defeat the Stone Armies?!
The ending of Midnight Falcon was bittersweet. It would have to be bittersweet since it's about two armies battling it out. War means death. I won't lie this book is violent, there are fights and battles large and small. For a book with so much action, it has great characterization. I think readers would definitely need to have read Sword in the Storm first.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews