In the midst of a burgeoning war, a warrior, an assassin, and a princess chase their own ambitions no matter the cost in Devin Madson’s visceral, emotionally charged debut.
War built the Kisian Empire. War will tear it down.
Seventeen years after rebels stormed the streets, factions divide Kisia. Only the firm hand of the god-emperor holds the empire together. But when a shocking betrayal destroys a tense alliance with neighboring Chiltae, all that has been won comes crashing down.
In Kisia, Princess Miko Ts’ai is a prisoner in her own castle. She dreams of claiming her empire, but the path to power could rip it, and her family, asunder.
In Chiltae, assassin Cassandra Marius is plagued by the voices of the dead. Desperate, she accepts a contract that promises to reward her with a cure if she helps an empire fall.
And on the border between nations, Captain Rah e’Torin and his warriors are exiles forced to fight in a foreign war or die.
As an empire dies, three warriors will rise. They will have to ride the storm or drown in its blood.
Thanks to the author and publisher for an advance reader copy of We Ride the Storm (The Reborn Empire #1) for review consideration. This did not influence my thoughts or opinions.
We Ride the Storm is, simply put, spectacular. It is epic fantasy at the highest caliber and a superb romp from cover to cover. I’ll go as far as to say it should be as well received as Evan Winter’s The Rage of Dragons (The Burning #1) was in 2019. Orbit got a steal when they signed Madson.
I knew of Madson during her run in SPFBO #4 and had seen many rave reviews for this title throughout that competition. I ran out and grabbed her novella, In Shadows We Fall, to get a taste for her prose, world-building ability, and just overall to see if I could get engaged in her writing. I mean, it won the Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novella in 2017 so there has to be something to it. Turns out, it was my favorite novella of 2019. EASILY.
We Ride the Storm takes place some time later than In Shadows We Fall and her first series, The Vengeance Trilogy, but just so happens to take place in the same world and has some familiar names and lineages that have carried on through the years. Having said that, there isn’t a need to have read any of her previous works to dive right in. This is one of those cases where having read the first series “enhances” the read rather than being a requirement.
“It’s harder to sever a head than people think. Perhaps if one were skilled with an axe, it could be done in a single blow – so long as the body was not trying to run away at the time – but out in the grasslands, decapitation is done with a knife. The first incision is easy. Then you drag your serrated blade through the flesh and think you’ll soon be done. I thought so my first time. I thought it would be quick and simple and not involve such thick globs of blood.Chapter 2. RAH. We Ride the Storm (The Reborn Empire #1) by Devin Madson
But it is our way. The Levanti way. So though we grumble, we saw through still-warm flesh and long-dead flesh alike to free the soul within.”
Going to be pretty blunt and to the point: I friggin loved this novel. The characters, the world-building, the political machinations, the decapitations (there are many), the grandness. of it all, and Madson’s prose all balled into one delivers an absolute show-stopper of a read. The story follows three (3) main POVS – see synopsis – and each one has their own engaging thread that soon become entangled with one another; and when I say entangled, I mean a ridiculous mess of tangles that’ll never come unraveled. The way Madson threads these stories together is truly something, and I can’t honestly say which character I liked more over another. Each one has a unique perspective on the ongoing conflict and their part in it, but also give eyes to the world that surrounds them.
All I can say is that you need to go out, buy this book, and read it. I waited wayyyy too long to pick it up, much like I did with The Rage of Dragons, and I will forever kick myself for not being more of a proponent for them.