Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) In Storm Rising, mysterious mage-storms are wreaking havoc on Valdemar, Karse, and all the kingdoms of the West, plaguing these lands not only with disastrous earthquakes, monsoons, and ice storms, but also with venomous magical constructs – terrifying creatures out of nightmare. Both Valdemar’s Heralds and Karse’s Sunpriests struggle to marshal their combined magical resources to protect their realms from these devastating, spell-fueled onslaughts. But as the situation becomes bleaker and bleaker, the still fragile alliance between these long-hostile lands begins to fray. And unless Valdemar and Karse can locate and destroy the creator of the storms, they may see their entire world demolished in a final magical holocaust.
Thoughts: This is one of those books where you can see everything moving from bad to worse. The mage-storms are increasing in frequency and strength, and the solution put in place at the end of the previous book wasn’t meant to be anything more than a temporary measure to buy them all time. Firesong’s jealousy toward Karal and the way that An’desha is moving away from him threatens to turn to physical harm. Karal himself is struck ill from the sheer amount of stress he has to go through in trying to hold a position he doesn’t feel he suits, while other allies are openly hostile to him. In Hardorn, Tremane is all but snowed-in, and the terrifying creatures caused by the mage-storms aren’t making things any easier for him or the people in the town of Shonar. It seems like no matter where anybody turns, there’s another problem that needs solving.
Mercedes Lackey does a wonderful job of keeping the conflicts interesting while avoiding getting so bogged down in them that the story stops making sense. Whether you’re trying to figure out where Firesong’s good sense went or trying to come up with your own suggestions for things that might lessen or stop the mage-storms, there’s something to keep you turning the pages, something to make you want to keep reading so that you can find the resolution to what’s going on.
We do get to see a fair bit of Lackey’s typical recaps in this book, too, usually in the retelling of backstory, but rarely did it get tedious to read, for which I’m glad. For those of us who did read the Winds trilogy, sitting through another retelling of the story of An’desha and Falconsbane could have very easily gotten annoying and could have been skipped, even if it did serve character development. But fortunately the recap pieces didn’t come along too often and weren’t very long, so they weren’t a chore to sit through.
What does make the book a little difficult is the fact that very little actually happens, and the ending is a repackaged version of the end of the first book. There’s a lot of council discussion about what to do about the storms, lots of artificers using a model to try different solution ideas, lots of character discussion. It’s a lot of people just trying to get through the days, really. There are some major events, such as the alliance between Tremane and Valdemar, the Kaled’a’in showing up, Solaris paying a visit to Haven, but for the most part, there’s very little action and tension here. At least until the end, when a group of people have to travel to Urtho’s ruined tower in the middle of the Dhorisha Plains and Karal once more has to act as a channel to set up yet another temporary solution to the storms. While the book was enjoyable, it felt like there was very little forward motion. It all needed to be done, of course, but it still took a lot of pages to accomplish them. Call it Second Book Syndrome, I guess.
Still, it did a good job of setting the stage for the third and final book of the trilogy, since everyone is a little bit closer to figuring out how to stop the storms entirely and new alliances have been made. And fortunately it’s been long enough since my last reading of the third book that I’ve no doubt forgotten a good deal, so seeing how it’ll all tie together in the end will no doubt be interesting. Classic Lackey!