Review: We Ride The Storm

Rating: 9/10

Gripping from the start, We Ride The Storm is a face-paced grimdark adventure that plunges the reader into a complex world of diverse culture and politics. The opening chapters thrust the reader into the Madson’s world and it took me a few chapters to adjust to the three very different characters. Despite being thrown in at the deep end, the world building came across as effortless and never once felt like an info dump.

The novel is centered around three stories that quickly interweave into an immersive tale. The perspectives of these characters are wrote in the first person, and as a writer, I can fully appreciate how difficult this is to pull off well. Madson executes this flawlessly and the successful first person accounts give the reader a deeper understanding of the character’s thoughts that helps the reader sympathise with the character’s actions, even some of the more difficult and dark. Something I found particularly engaging was that each character has a different cultural background which effects their perceptions of the world.

Rah. A Levanti nomad and captain of a band of warriors who has been exiled from his herd for disobeying an order. Rah seeks to uphold his culture’s traditions while protecting those he leads. In the unfamiliar world he is thrust in to, upholding his own idea of honor becomes increasingly difficult. A stubborn character who I was constantly sympathizing with, as even in today’s world, it is difficult to do the right thing and often it can put the doer in undesirable circumstances.

Cassandra. A Chiltaen substance abusing whore and assassin has an unexplained second person living inside her head, whose thoughts are regularly expressed during Cassandra’s chapters. In contrast to Rah, Cassandra does not care for honour or pride and will do anything to relieve herself of the ever present voice in her head. This character quickly engaged my attention. As a psychology PhD student, I was unsure if this was a genuine second voice in her head, or if this character was suffering from a mental health condition as a product of her work as an assassin. It was soon revealed that the voice was actually a conscious being, but despite this, I think the second voice and issues with her mental health are cleverly written that kept me intrigued throughout.

Miko. A Kisian bastard princess forced into dealing with the intrigues and politics of the Imperial court. To me, Miko felt like a mixture of both Rah and Cassandra as her motivations lie in her want to lead and protect the people of her kingdom, and she will not shy away from dirtying her hands in order to achieve this. Despite this character’s sense of entitlement, I found Miko to be the more relatable of the three characters, as she was merciless towards those who deserve it, yet merciful to those who are innocent. Her story follows her struggle as she attempts to gain power and sit upon the crimson throne in order to protect her kingdom from tearing itself apart.

We Ride The Storm was one of the faster paced novels I have read this year. Towards the end of the story each chapter seems to throw more conflict and challenges at the three protagonists. Combined with the first person perspective, this often left me unsure how the character would deal with the difficulty that lay ahead. It was satisfying too when my guesses were often wrong.

We Ride The Storm is a novel that combines fast paced writing, contrasting view points, and well written characters that lead to an immersive world and very enjoyable story. I would recommend it everyone who is a fan of fantasy and particularly those who enjoy a darker tone to their fantasy reading.

Find the book on amazon

A Completely Free Masterclass From the Legend Himself – Brandon Sanderson

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind you.” – Henry Ford.

I have found that I have always enjoyed writing. From the more formal academic writing, to writing fantasy where I can let my imagination run wild. Leaving school at 15 to join the Army, I have struggled in the past to understand the “how” when it come to creative writing, and primarily wrote from my gut instinct. In order to improve my writing, I had to take to the internet to find content which could help me develop my own writing style. Last year, I came across a series of Brandon Sanderson’s videos by BYU, where you can watch as a fly on the wall all of his creative writing for fantasy and science fiction lectures. I found these extremely useful and as Sanderson himself puts, has helped me to become more of a chef and less than a cook when it come to creative writing. The course spans 12 lectures across multiple topics including plotting, dialogue, character, and his renowned take on magic systems. Below you will find a link to each of his lectures. I hope you find them as useful as I did!

#1 – Course Overview

#2 – Chefs vs. Cooks

#3 – The Illusionist Writer

#4 – World Building

#5 – The Box

#6 – The Business of Writing

#7 – Character

#8 – Magic Systems

#9 – Guest Speaker – Brandon Mull

#10 – Plotting

#11 – Dialogue and Agents

#12 – Q&A

Bes: The Dwarf God of Ancient Egypt

When we think of Ancient Egyptian gods, many images come to mind. For me, my impression of Ancient Egyptian Gods initially came from watching Yu-Gi-Oh growing up. The card “The Winged Dragon of Ra” being ingrained into my brain as I desperately sought after the card, but never managed to get my eleven year old hands on it. Ra, the sun god (seen below), is probably the most known Ancient Egyptian God. This hawk headed god almost seems like the cover star of Ancient Egypt. However, during my most recent research for my novel into Ancient Egypt, I came across a god that was much to my surprise.

Re-Horakhty.svg

Bes, the god of dwarfs, protector of households, mothers and children, is possible the most bizarre looking Ancient Egyptian god I have come across, and that is saying something considering the Goddess Nut had skin made from the night sky and is often seen stretching over her husband like the night sky, which looks slightly awkward.

geb-and-nut

The Ancient Egyptians believed that dwarfs held magical properties. Bes himself was a dwarf and considered to to bring good fortune, as he watched over the common man. Bes was also said to ward off evil and came to be symbolize all things good, such as music, dancing, and even sexual pleasure. I think he has become my new favorite Ancient Egyptian God.

besImage result for bes god

A Very Grim(dark) Start

This is an extract from my prologue for my current work in progress. Too grim?

“I drained the remaining foam from my tankard. A familiar dizzying euphoria rolled through my head. I had lost count of how many I had drank, it was more than yesterday I’m sure. I didn’t mind, however. This was the only way I could feel. I had become numb. I remember hearing stories as a boy of soldiers who would wake in the night screaming. I was prepared for that. I had personally experienced several night terrors of that kind. What I wasn’t prepared for was the stripping of all human emotion. Anger, happiness, sadness, love. All fled, leaving a hollow shell.

It is true what they say. That once a man enlists, he seals his own death. If he is not felled in battle, the demons of the mind will soon finish the job. I had seen many a man lose to such demons, demons that are willingly accepted by young soldiers. It is hard to explain the reality of it to the young. I remember myself, eager to fight. Had I known what I knew now, I would not have gone. I was a naïve fool.

The tavern keeper had long since given up on speaking with me. At first, he would try to tell what he thought were funny stories of his recent days working the bar. One was about a tavern boy who slipped on his way to deliver a tray of tankards to a table, the beer spilling all over the patrons. As far as small talk goes, I suppose this would have been one of the more amusing conversations. But after years of living with death only a wrong step away, stories like this just seem pointless.

‘To the emperor!’ I heard merrymakers cheer from opposite end of the bar.

To the emperor. What a joke. If only they knew the true nature of the war and Imperium. There was little point in me telling them, they wouldn’t believe me even if I did. I threw some coppers on the bar and unsteadily rose to my feet.

As I made my way towards the exit, a voice called over to me. ‘Aren’t you the Rabasan’s kid, the soldier?’

I turned to see a small crowd looking at me, patriotic appreciation in their eyes. I despised that look.

‘It is him!’ One voice said. ‘It’s great to see you back safe and sound from the front’

‘The hero’s return!’ Another voice. ‘It’s brave men like you who keep the Haram from ever reaching our shores.’

A small laugh burst from my lips. Hero? I had always strived to do good in the world. A good deed can go along way. But during those years at the front, I had never felt more like a villain in my life. A heavy burden that I will take with me to the grave.

Much has changed over the past years. I had gone from a young boy, eager to serve his kingdom and to prove his worth to the world. To now, a man who needs to drink himself into a stupor just to feel alive.

Outside, the air smelled crisp. It sent my head to spinning. I propped myself by the wall of the tavern and vomited into the dirt. Money wasted.

I will soon be posted again. I am told my next campaign will be less bloody. I imagine it no less cruel though. I had considered leaving, running far away. But the reach of Imperium is far and wide. I wouldn’t get far.

I staggered back up the track, to my unavoidable fate.”

Let me know what you think in the comments!