Mini Reviews: Chasers of the Wind & The Leopard

August 30, 2014 Book Review, Multiple Reviews 5 ★★★★

Chasers of the Wind

Centuries after the disastrous War of the Necromancers, the Nabatorians, aligned with the evil necromancers of Sdis, mount an invasion of the Empire. Luk, a soldier, and Ga-Nor, a Northern barbarian, are thrown together as they attempt to escape the Nabatorian hordes and find their way back to their comrades.

Gray and Layan are a married couple, master thieves who are hiding out and trying to escape their former gang. They hope to evade the bounty hunters that hound them and retire to a faraway land in peace.

Tia is a powerful dark sorceress and one of The Damned—a group trying to take over the world and using the Nabatorian invasion as a diversion.

Unfortunately, for Gray and Layan, they unwittingly hold the key to a powerful magical weapon that could bring The Damned back to power.

Hounded by the killers on their trail and by the fearsome creatures sent by The Damned, Gray and Layan are aided by Luk and Ga-Nor—and Harold, the hero of The Chronicles of Siala. Realizing what’s at stake they decide that, against all odds, they must stop The Damned.

Chasers of the Wind is the first book in a new series from internationally bestselling author Alexey Pehov.

In the etymology of high fantasy, perhaps at the phylum level, is a division for based on the map in the front cover.  There are books that need that map (con map), and books that don’t need the map (sine map).

The sine map phyla of books are usually my favorite.  These have rich characters and a well built universe that engrosses the reader.  As you’re reading one of these, you’ll refer to the map because you want to see what is coming next, not because you’re lost and can’t tell what’s going on in the story.

Chasers of the Wind map

map image photographed from inside of CHASERS OF THE WIND

I only got through the prologue of “Chasers of the Wind” before giving up.  I caught some hints of trouble on the first page “greatest fortress in the world.” Then there was a confusing inner monologue from the central character, Luk, where he switches, apparently at random, between describing the gates of this “impregnable fortress” as either a portcullis or 40 foot tall wings.  I referred to the map three or four times. trying to figure out some of the off-hand references to geography in the prologue.

Maggie told me I should look at some of the other reviews of this book to see if it’s one of those “picks up one-third of the way through” books.  One of the reviewers blamed the dialogue issues on Alexey Peyhov’s russian language, but Vladimir Nabokov didn’t have problems with dialogue in Lolita.

After 10 pages, I decided (maybe prematurely) that this book is of the con map variety. Perhaps I’m too cranky, but seeing absolutes and clunky dialogue, and trying to find where the scouts disappeared forced me to put this book down and pick up one with clunkier cover art, but hopefully tighter writing.

Chasers of the Wind by Alexey Pehov | Goodreads – Overall – DNF / Abandoned

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Leopard

Part one of a two-book epic fantasy, set in a world as richly drawn as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, but with Mideastern and Eastern flavors

In the days of the first kings in the North, there were seven devils…

Ahjvar, the assassin known as the Leopard, wants only to die, to end the curse that binds him to a life of horror. Although he has no reason to trust the goddess Catairanach or her messenger Deyandara, fugitive heir to a murdered tribal queen, desperation leads him to accept her bargain: if he kills the mad prophet known as the Voice of Marakand, Catairanach will free him of his curse. Accompanying him on his mission is the one person he has let close to him in a lifetime of death, a runaway slave named Ghu. Ahj knows Ghu is far from the half-wit others think him, but in Marakand, the great city where the caravan roads of east and west meet, both will need to face the deepest secrets of their souls, if either is to survive the undying enemies who hunt them and find a way through the darkness that damns the Leopard.

To Marakand, too, come a Northron wanderer and her demon verrbjarn lover, carrying the obsidian sword Lakkariss, a weapon forged by the Old Great Gods to bring their justice to the seven devils who escaped the cold hells so long before.

Tabkins keeps telling me that I can’t judge a book by it’s cover. I can’t help it. The cover art for “The Leopard (Marakand)” by K. V. Johansen leaves a little to be desired. It looks like a cross between a romance novel and one of those serial novels they crank out based on video games or role playing games. Don’t let that put you off, like it put Tabkins off. She described the book as a “Boy book” to me just because of the cover art (she’s kind of a hypocrite).

In the etymology of fantasy novels this one lands in the “sine map” phyla. The maps are right there for you in the front cover, but aren’t really needed. K.V.does a great job building a rich world with unique characters. She/he puts you in the world with great settings and costumes and builds on familiar tropes without feeling derivative.

This book reminded me of a Steven Erikson book (Malazan book of the fallen) without being quite so “heavy”. I’d say this book tends towards boyish, but it’d be great for anyone who loves fantasy.

TL;DR – Read this book if you like character driven fantasy novels with larger than life heroes and villains.

(*Note from Tabitha: I have to interject here and pout a little by saying I totally didn’t say it was a “boy book” – I brought it over to his house and said “This is an Alan book” – meaning I thought it was totally something he would enjoy more so then I would given his tastes. So Neener neener there!)

The Leopard by K.V. Johansen | Goodreads – Overall – 4 Stars

*These books were provided by the publishers. No compensation was provided and these opinions are strictly our own.

Alan

Alan

Father of four, who spending most waking hours working as an executive at a health care company. He is often cranky and sometimes a know-it-all. He has a unique relationship with books. Alan cut his teeth reading science fiction (Niven, Pohl, Asimov, Clarke, Card) stolen from his father's bookshelf. In 7th grade he discovered Anne McCaffery and Piers Anthony which expanded his horizons into fantasy. At 16, a young lady suggested that Anne Rice writes some "hot" books. His beautiful bride Maggie introduced him to PNR (Laurell K. Hamilton). His guilty pleasure is "cotton candy" pulp fiction from the 50s and 60s (Edgar Rice Burroughs).
Alan

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5 Responses to “Mini Reviews: Chasers of the Wind & The Leopard”

  1. Anya

    Oo awesome! I spotted Chasers of the Wind on NetGalley a while ago and decided to pass it by so I’m totally with you on that ;-). Great to know that The Leopard is more character driven, I get a bit bored at times with fantasy that is just running around a huge world finding stuff haha
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  2. Nikki

    Oh dear. I picked up one of Alexey Perov’s books recently. *crosses fingers* Did they mean re: the dialogue problem that it was a translation problem? Nabokov wrote the novel in English and it wasn’t translated by him or anyone else, so it’s a whole different issue.

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