The Coming Storm (The Coming Storm, #1) - Valerie Douglas The Coming Storm!

Several hundred years ago, the Wizard War tore apart the world of men, elves, and dwarves as mad sorcerers tortured innumerable captives to gain blood magic by which they augmented their powers to godlike levels. To defend themselves, a grand alliance sprang into existence whereby the evil wizards were destroyed - except for a handful who escaped into the dark lands and out of the knowledge of the free peoples of the world. And so, peace returned to the realms; a near universal tranquility except for political machinations at the High King's court and the constant patrol of the dark border, where tireless hunters and woodsmen from the rugged, border people and the hidden, Elven holds hunt down the dark creatures who venture into human lands at times. All seems well with the world until now!

In the Elven hold of Aerilann, Elon, advisor to the High King of Men, is filled with feelings of uneasy; his magic whispering to him of a wrongness in the land. Thus, he begins tracking the unusually increase of dark things venturing into the border lands. With the help of his true-friend Colath, Jareth, a human wizard, and Jalila, Elven archer, he sets out to discover the cause of his foreboding. But will even he, the first among many, be able to read the signs in time to understand the Alliance's true danger?

Ailith, the Heir to Riverford, resides in the highland kingdom of her father; a tomboyish girl, more likely to ride out to hunt dark creatures with her father's hunters than to dress in frilly gowns and read poetry. And that is perfectly fine with her father, King Geric and her mother Selah, who adore their only daughter. Yet, something has changed in Ailith's once loving home. A new man, Tolan, has appeared at their tiny castle, taking up an advisor position with King Geric, and the once even-tempered and jovial king is now turning into a strange caricature of himself. This mystifies Ailith, and when she turns to her once strong-willed mother for understanding, she finds her engulfed in a malaise as well, unable to do aught except stay in her rooms in a trance-like state. Left adrift and alone in a world turned mad, Ailith begins her own quest to discover what has changed her parents; a quest that will change her life and place her very soul at risk.

Sounds good so far, doesn't it? Maybe a bit too Tolkienish for some but still a good premise for an engaging story.

And the fact of the matter is - for all the criticisms you can make about editing or writing style -the first half of the book is a good read. The story draws you in, and the characters - especially Ailith for me - made me care about them and want to see where their differing quests led them. But then something just goes wrong with the book.

When a book goes wrong, it's like a cake recipe not turning out just right. Did the baker not put enough sugar in? Maybe too much? Was an ingredient left out? That is the way I view a good book turning out not quite right, and that is the way I view The Coming Storm: there are a few ingredients that just didn't mesh well.

First, there was too much action. The characters would go here, fight these dark creatures, then discover this new piece of the puzzles that leads them to travel to yet another place to fight more creatures. It got to the point I just skipped the action scenes because they did
nothing to actually move the story forward.

Second, one of the main character evolves too quickly from powerless to powerful. I understand that it is common fodder in fantasy books that hobbits find magic ring or farm boys discover magic sword, but those type of stories only work where the main character struggles along the way with the power. In The Coming Storm, one character stumbles onto power after power whenever that particular power is most needed to overcome an obstacle. And what was the other character's response to this? Something along the lines of "Well, I really like Steve, so while it's against the law to do this, I guess it's okay that he has this new ability to transmute stone." This stretched the believability factor too much for me and ruined the story for me.

Third, the powerless character, who discovers all these magical talents, also turns from a follower into a leader. A leader whom other - more powerful and more experienced - people just seem to automatically defer to. When you add to this the fact that the character turns from ordinary looking into this regal, beautiful creature seemingly between pages, you might begin to understand why this whole transformation just did not ring true.

Fourth, the main characters continue making these mind numbing decisions that throws them into danger; some of which just do not make any sense. The main one that keeps popping up is why this group of important people continue to travel around by themselves. Why? Honestly, once you've identified there is a danger and that an enemy is after you, wouldn't you go get a group of Elven hunters to accompany you around as protection or something. There were many things like this that just made a reader go: "What are they doing - again!"

In summation, this was a very good story idea, even if it was not breaking new ground. Somehow, the story got out of control, and Valeria Douglas tried to do too much with one character in particular. The fact that the action became distracting rather than complimentary also speaks volumes. Due to this, I would give the first half of the book a 3 star rating, and the book as a whole a 1 star.