Review: Stranger of Tempest. Book 1 of the God Fragments by Tom Lloyd

Lynx is a mercenary with a sense of honour; a dying breed in the Riven Kingdom. Failed stranger of tempestby the nation he served and weary of the skirmishes that plague the continent’s principalities, he walks the land in search of purpose. He wants for little so bodyguard work keeps his belly full and his mage-gun loaded. It might never bring a man fame or wealth, but he’s not forced to rely on others or kill without cause.

Little could compel Lynx to join a mercenary company, but he won’t turn his back on a kidnapped girl. At least the job seems simple enough; the mercenaries less stupid and vicious than most he’s met over the years.

So long as there are no surprises or hidden agendas along the way, it should work out fine.

This book has an amazing start. I was hooked from the first page. It was an ideal set up for me, just like I thought.

We follow Lynx, once a soldier for a blood-thirsty nation everyone hates, and now a wandering bodyguard who tries to forget his past. He’s not your average mercenary character, as he is quite overweight. Something I don’t come across very often, mostly lone mercenary main characters are scarred, muscly & mysterious. Lynx is still very strong, but he loves eating and it shows.

He gets talked into joining a mercenary company pretty quickly at the start, so there’s no long exposition. I loved the company and its members immediately. They reminded me so much of the Bridgeburners in Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen. Something I’m always after. Especially the fact that they like to play weird card games and name themselves after a deck of cards, was cool! So the leader calls himself ‘Prince of Suns’ and the commanders under him are the Knights of Stars, Blood, Tempest etc. They all love drinking, gambling and fighting each other. You get to read some really entertaining banter!

The characters are all distinct and special in their own way. Reft is a tall, silent giant no one wants to mess with. His best friend, Deern, is a shady kind of person, who likes to cause trouble and talks too much. Anatin, the commander is probably the worst drunk and swears the most, but still respected as a leader. Payl, his second-in-command, is a strict woman, who pays lots of attention to order. They are all very foul-mouthed. There’s lots of swearing and f-words getting thrown around, so if you are not a fan of it, this book isn’t for you.

I was pleasantly surprised that there is a second pov character, a girl named Sitain, who gets rescued by the company and gets them in all kinds of trouble. Sitain is a Night Mage, that means she can manipulate the dark, put people to sleep, interact with night elementals etc. She is only learning to control her powers and the company keeps her around because she might come in handy.

She is the only mage in the company, everyone else is plain human, from what I know and carries a mage gun. Some magical weapon that can shoot different kinds of ammunition. We don’t get a lot information on magic in general, only that mages build those mage guns, but the focus is not on that anyways.

The story was just great so far, the company was moving around, having some great conversations and getting ready for a job… What happened after that, turned me off a bit. It sounded like a good idea. A job didn’t work out how they wanted it, and now the company, including their employer Toil, is being followed by really nasty people, the Knights-Charnel plus troops with mage guns themselves. Also, there was some betrayal within the group and the Knights-Charnel are after Sitain.

The second half is basically part of the group trying to flee from their pursuers and going through some underground ruins that are overrun by monsters & elementals. It was too long. I noticed that I was losing interest very quickly – often they are just walking around until some monster appears and some action happens. Also, Toil is a horribly annoying character and the fact that she is the one leading the group, didn’t make it better.

This is an interesting one. If I just have to judge the start and about the first half of the book, I’d say it’s one of the most entertaining Fantasy novels I’ve come across this year. But if I have to judge the whole thing it’s ‘just’ good. That’s not bad at all – it’s above average and I am almost sure I will check out more of the author’s works. But it could have been so much better. In the end, the fact that I liked the characters so much, especially Sitain, Reft, Teshen and Anatin, made me decide to continue and try the second part as well.

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