Friday, February 07, 2014

Reread #6 Sword in the Storm

Sword in the Storm. David Gemmell. 1998. Del Rey. 448 pages [Source: Library]

On the night of the great man's birth a fierce storm was moving in from the far north, but the lowering black clouds still were hidden behind the craggy, snow-capped peaks of the Druagh mountains. The night air outside the birthing hut was calm and still and heavy. The bright stars of Caer Gwydion glittered in the sky, and the full moon was shining like a lantern over the tribal lands of the Rigante.

I first read Sword in the Storm in January 2008. I loved it. I loved it because of the characterization. I loved it because of the relationships. I loved it because of the storytelling. I loved it because of the world-building. I loved it because of the writing. I found it to be a very rich fantasy novel: I loved the historical details, and the hint of the supernatural. I had every intention of reading more in the series, but, I never did.

I recently reread Sword in the Storm. I love it just as much if not a little more. I appreciate the characterization even more, I believe. Not many authors have the gift: the gift of bringing to life all their characters--major and minor. Not many authors trust their characters with humanity: with allowing every character to have strengths and weaknesses, of giving even the greatest heroes opportunities to reveal their flaws. That is certainly the case with Sword in the Storm.

Connavar is our young hero. One night he rescues a fawn in the woods; that night will change his life forever, for he will attract the attention of the Seidh. It will not be his only encounter, for they will follow his life with great interest offering many opportunities, but these opportunities are not without risk or cost. The idea of "Fate" definitely plays a role in this fantasy novel.

One of the things I love most about this fantasy novel is how grounded it is. Readers are presented with a whole world, whole cultures and tribes, whole communities and families. I loved spending time in this world. I loved watching Connavar grow up. I loved, loved, loved his stepfather (Ruathain), for example. Another favorite character is Banouin, a foreigner who lives among the Rigante most of the year, though he travels back and forth lands. He is a former Stone soldier; he warns Connavar that the Stone army will come, that the Stone army may be occupied with other tribes (Perdii and Gath, to name two), but the Rigante need to be aware that war is coming. I also really enjoyed Vorna for the most part. I was so pleased that she became a part of the community and the role that she played in the story.

From my first review:
 Never has a book been so rich, so fully immersed in culture WHILE at the same time being so full of action and intensity. The characters are well-developed. It doesn't matter if they're major or minor. All the characters have a life, a spark of their own. Each plays a role in the drama. Each is important. The whole community--the whole tribe--is given life. His characters are so human, so believable. They're full of flaws, but they're still--for the most part--so likable. You understand them. If they do good. If they do bad. You feel you know why. You understand why. The action? Intense. Whether plotting a romance or preparing for great battle scenes, the pacing is unbelievable. All of it is so good. It really keeps the pages turning.
 Favorite quotes:
"May I fetch you water, old one?"
Her head came up, and he found himself looking into the darkest eyes he had ever seen, pupils and iris blending perfectly, her orbs like polished black pebbles. "I need  no water, Connavar. But it was kind of you to ask."
"How is it you know me?"
"I know many things. What is it you wish for?"
"I don't understand you."
"Of course you do," she chided him, laying aside the net. "Every man has a secret wish. What is yours?"
"He shrugged. "To be happy, perhaps. To have many strong sons and a handful of beautiful daughters. To live to be old and see my sons grow and their sons."
She laughed scornfully, the sound rasping like a saw through dead wood, "You have picked your wishes from the public barrel. These are not what your heart desires, Sword in the Storm."
"Why have I never seen you before? Where do you live?"
"Close by. And I have seen you, swimming in the lake, leaping from the falls, running through the woods with your half brother. You are full of life, Connavar, and destiny is calling you. How will you respond?"
He stood silently for a moment. "Are you a witch?"
"Not a witch," she said. "That I promise you. Tell me what you wish for."
A movement came from behind him, and Conn spun. Standing behind him was the Rigante witch Vorna. Her hands were held before her, crossed as if to ward off a blow. But she was not looking at him. She stood staring at the old woman.
"Move back with me, Conn," she said. "Come away from this place. Do not answer her questions."
"Are you frightened to voice your wish, boy?" asked the crone, ignoring Vorna.
Conn was indeed frightened, though he did not know why. But when fear touched him, it was always swamped by anger. "I fear nothing," he said.
"Conn! Do not speak," warned Vorna.
"Then tell me!" shrieked the old woman.
"I wish for glory!" he shouted back at her.
A cool wind whispered across the clearing, and a bright light flashed before his eyes. He fell back, blinking.
"And you shall have it," whispered a voice in his mind. (68-9)
"You may not be good at making friends," whispered Parax. "But by heaven, you are second to none when it comes to making enemies." (319) 
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2 comments:

Suko 3:33 PM  

Wonderful, enthusiastic review, Becky! It's also wonderful that you enjoyed reading this even more the second time. It sounds as if the story has depth and is exceptionally well done.

Kailana 7:57 PM  

I really need to read more Gemmell!

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

The background is based on a background I found here...with some small adjustments on my part so it would work with the template.
Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP