Book Review: The Last Stormlord, by Glenda Larke

Hey, everyone. I’m back with another Fantasy book review. I just finished Glenda Larke’s The Last Stormlord and am looking forward to picking up the sequel! I think many of you will like it too.

The Last StormlordFrom the publisher:

Shale is the lowest of the low-an outcast from a poor village in the heart of the desert. In the desert water is life, and currency, and Shale has none. But he has a secret. It’s the one thing that keeps him alive and may save all the cities of the Quartern in the days to come. If it doesn’t get him killed first…

Terelle is a slave fleeing a life as a courtesan. She finds shelter in the home of an elderly painter but as she learns the strange and powerful secrets of his art she fears she may have traded a life of servitude for something far more perilous…

The Stormlord is dying in his tower and there is no one, by accident or design, to take his place. He brings the rain from the distant seas to his people. Without a Stormlord, the cities of the Quartern will wither and die.

Their civilization is at the brink of disaster. If Shale and Terelle can find a way to save themselves, they may just save them all. Water is life and the wells are running dry…

All Shale ever wanted was a drink…

The Last Stormlord spins a tale of those with water and those without. Water is like money in Glenda’s world. The Stormlord can make it rain where they wish, giving them supreme power. I can honestly say I can’t remember a story quite like this concept wise. Rainlords can sense water and manipulate it but can’t make rain clouds making them slightly less powerful than Stormlords. Imagine if you could take the water from an enemy’s body and instantly kill them. Yeah, that happens.

At it’s core, The Last Stormlord is about poverty and how society treats her less privileged citizens. Glenda does a fantastic job painting a picture of desperation as two of the main characters grow up waterless and destitute. In this story magic is used to help bring water to the people. There are no wizards or sorceresses. That was one of the things I really liked about this book: the practical application of magic.

Instead of horses, our characters ride myriapedes. This is a nice touch for a desert community. Glenda really did a fantastic job creating a vivid, if desperate, world for her characters. This is Fantasy like you’ve never seen before. I believe that’s a good thing.

The stars of this story are the women. Each one was unique, lifelike, and totally believable. They all have their own problems, strengths and weaknesses. I found myself drawn to Ryka in particular. My only gripe was I wanted more chapters with her in them. Don’t get me wrong, all of Glenda’s characters are great but there’s something a little better with her female characters. You won’t find any damsels in distress in this book either, which I really enjoyed. These ladies are smart and have practical goals. They don’t want to be waterless ladies prostituting themselves for a sip of water.

The guys aren’t too shabby either. What I really like was how Shale, born in poverty, never forgot where he came from. Even as his talents are discovered and he’s exposed to the good life, he longs for the simpler days of his youth. Living with an abusive father also taught him how to read people’s intentions from body language and the look in their eyes. Speaking from experience, I’d say Glenda nailed these things. I guess that’s why I can relate to Shale. Every time he gets what he thinks he wanted, it turns out not to be as great as he thought it would be. I enjoyed going along for the ride as Shale grew into a man.

I’ll definitely be reading the next book in the series.

What I liked:

  • The concept. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Fantasy book quite like this. Everything revolves around water. You either have it, or you die. Awesome.
  • The magic system. Our characters can sense water, manipulate it, and even extract it from various sources. Those who can do all three have considerable influence and often rule over those who don’t. The magic has practical applications which directly helps the citizens of these countries.
  • The female characters. These women are sharp, fierce, and can hold their own. It’s easy to believe that the poor would be sold for water or forced to sell their bodies for water. Glenda explores every aspect of being a woman in a world ruled by water which adds to the overall quality of the story.
  • Shale’s depth. It was refreshing to find a character with a multitude of layers that seemed real. Nothing was overdone. Everything in Shale’s life contributes to the person he becomes. I really liked that even after he left his life of poverty he never forgot those hard learned lessons.
  • The class system. There are poor places without much water and there are places with plenty of water. As you can imagine, when water starts becoming scarce the poor are the first to feel the pinch. I could easily see this happening.
  • The desperation. From the first page to the last, Glenda did a fantastic job of showing how desperate everyone can be when their water was threatened. It adds a whole new layer to the story. We get to see what governments do when the water starts running out. Foreigners are thrown out, water stealers have their hands cut off and are thrown out, while others are crucified as a warning to not steal any water.
  • The racism. I know racism is bad, mmkay! But in a desperate world where water is in short supply, it’s easy to believe the people who don’t look like, think, or act like those controlling the water would be looked down upon. Different races are treated poorly and even slaughtered. They are the first ones to lose their water allotment as well. It was handled the right way and only adds to the bleak nature of this story. Kudos to the author for building such a complex, yet totally approachable world.
  • The ending. While it is a to be continued ending, there is a brilliant twist which was hinted at several times throughout the book. Well played, Glenda!

What I didn’t like:

  • The pacing. While the pacing isn’t slow, it isn’t the quickest read either. It moves along at a steady pace. Some spots feel a little longer than others.
  • I would have liked a little more action. While there is quality action, much of the time it’s mentioned as happening elsewhere instead of readers being exposed to it.
  • Why didn’t Shale assert himself more? Shale is no dummy. He knows how important he is. You would think that he would use that power rather than not at all. It didn’t make sense to me especially when the welfare of those he loves is in jeopardy.
  • How much power one of the main villains had…even after everyone knew he had done some really bad things. It just didn’t make sense why nobody would do anything to stand up to this guy, not even the citizens he’s governing…and mistreating. I wasn’t buying it.

Overall: I’m giving The Last Stormlord four out of five stars. If you’re tired of the same old archetypes questing for the same mythical sword in your epic fantasy, you’re in for a treat with this book. Glenda Larke’s Stormlord series is off to a great start. Fresh concepts coupled with strong narrative breathe new life into a sometimes tired Fantasy genre. If the second book is anything like this one, you can count me in. Pick up a copy for yourself, or a friend. Best $7.99 I’ve spent in a while.

You can find out more about Glenda Larke by visiting her official website by following this link.

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