My rating: 3 of 5 stars (Liked It)
Synopsis: When Saotse rode across the treacherous ocean on an orca at the bidding of Oarsa, Power of the Sea, the blind maiden believed she had been chosen for a great destiny. But she hasn’t heard Oarsa’s voice in decades. Aged now, she has found her place among a peaceful, long-lived people, though her adoptive sister, Uya, still blossoms with youth. Then, pregnant Uya is kidnapped, and the rest of her family is slaughtered when an army of mounted warriors strikes the defenseless capital, leaving Saotse grief stricken and alone. After Saotse finds refuge with strangers in a distant village, a new Power makes contact. Saotse embraces the opportunity to bury her bloodthirsty enemies in vengeance, but wielding the Power’s bitter magic could cost her everything she is. As war escalates and allies flock to her side, Saotse believes she finally understands Oarsa’s purpose for her. But the Powers may have set events in motion that even they cannot control, and the fates of gods and men alike hang in the balance.
***Disclaimer: I received a copy in exchange for a review.***
Suffering, Sacrifice, Redemption, Retribution, Forgiveness- the Gods move in mysterious ways.
What's Good: The story takes place in an non-medieval world, sort of a mashup of Mongol raiders and Native American hunter/gatherers. The author put a lot of effort into creating and developing the world. The story flows evenly, switching perspectives between principal characters. Even in the introspective, quiet moments things move along. Characterizations are good; you get to know the key personages pretty well. Their hopes, fears and ambitions are all tangible and recognizable.
What's Bad: Too much happening with little to no context to place it in. You're thrust into these cultures with no idea what's going on or what these strange words refer to. Saotse's race is referred to as the Swift People- because they age 'normally' instead living for one or two centuries as the other races in the story do. Yet this only serves as a cheap plot device to explain why she's old and decrepit while everyone else remains hale. Other than a few moments it really didn't impact the story that much; things would've played out much the same if she were as youthful as everyone else. And for a race of people who lived so long, it's strange how they don't retain as much of their history as you'd think. But then, those who forget history...
The key to the story is Saotse being 'Kept'- a person blessed by the Powers to be able to commune with them somewhat and channel their magic. It's odd how no other tribes- not even the warlike Yakhat who've been rampaging across the lands for over a century- have anyone to work magic for them. It didn't have to be on the scale Saotse did (would've been interesting, tho) but after referring to others with lesser abilities, why not see any of them in all the time spent with other tribes?
What's Left: There's no surprises here; if you're paying attention you can see where the story's going and how it'll play out. You're really just along for the ride.
Overall, Storm Bride's a quick, kinda fun read, especially if you're looking for a non-medieval fantasy setting. It'll do for ya on a warm, lazy afternoon.