Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Review: Stormbringers - Philippa Gregory

Luca Vero is a member of the secret Order of Darkness, tasked with searching out and reporting signs of the end of the world. Breaking his journey in Piccolo, he finds a place filled with superstitious fears: of the unknown, of the forces of the sea and sky, of strangers. With him are his loyal friend and servant, Freize, and his clerk, Brother Peter, as well as the Lady Isolde and her mysterious servant-companion Ishraq. The five of them are followed into the town by a huge children's crusade, led by a self-proclaimed saint. Its young leader promises that the sea will part before them, and allow them to walk dry-shod all the way to Jerusalem. Luca and Lady Isolde are swept up in the growing excitement; but something dangerous is brewing far out to sea...

Visit Philippa Greggory's website or the Order of Darkness website for more information.

Order of Darkness Series:
Changeling
Stormbringers
Fool's Gold (2014)

Review:
Isolde travelling to her godfather hoping he will help her regain the inheritance her brother stole from her while Luca is on a mission for The Order of Darkness to search for signs of the end of the world. While their paths take the same direction the group has agreed to travel together but their journey comes to an unexpected stop when they come across a children's crusade. The crusade is led by a 16 year old boy referred to as Johann the Good. Luca is immediately suspicious of the boy thinking that he is up to no good but after talking to him and watching him preach both Luca and Isolde are convinced he is speaking the word of god. As they prepare to travel with the crusade a terrible tragedy unfolds, one that brings suspicion down on the group and that is going to make it hard for Luca to prove their innocence.

I really enjoyed Changeling so I was looking forward to catching up with Luca, Freize, Isolde, Ishraq and even Brother Peter. Unfortunately I'm left with mixed feelings over Stormbringers, and didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first book. The first half of the story was quite slow going and I found myself getting bored and feeling disinclined to pick up the book to carry on reading. Luckily the action really picked up in the second half and the story became much more enjoyable and turned into the kind of book I was expecting to read.

I think it is probably down to personal preference but I wasn't a huge fan of the strong religious focus at the beginning of the story. Although I'd not come across children's crusades in fiction before and therefore should have found it an interesting topic it failed to hold my interest. It wasn't until the tragedy begins to unfold that I found myself really invested in the story. I'm not going to tell you what actually happens I'll just say that it was a bit like watching a horror movie unfold, you know that part where you know what is coming but the heroes are completely oblivious and continue walking straight into the danger zone? That was exactly how I felt while I was reading. For someone living in modern times we would easily recognise the signs and know what was about to happen but back in the middle ages they would have had no way of predicting the events that were unfolding or known how to avoid them.

I also found myself starting to get a little frustrated with the characters, I'd been enjoying watching Luca and Isolde get to know each other in Changeling and had hoped for a romance to start to develop between them but I found myself disappointed with the way Isolde was acting in this instalment. There was one particular point where she seemed to turn into a spoilt childish brat and it left me really annoyed with her. Freize is also absent for a large chunk of the story which was disappointing because he has always been such a source of entertainment who adds a lot of humour to the series.

Although Stormbringers wasn't my favourite book in the series it was still an OK read and I will definitely be picking up the third book when it is released next year in the hope that it follows the same vein as the second half of this story.

Source: Received from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review

Other reviews of this book:
Dab of Darkness
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Hardback / Kindle:

2 comments:

  1. I recently finished this book and also had mixed feeling on it. The first book throws you right into the action and mystery and this one had a slow start. I did enjoy things quite a bit more once tragedy unfolds, and the last quarter with it's mystery was good stuff too.

    Ha! I also felt that the odd love quadrangle going on was a bit much.

    Still, I will probably keep my eye out for the 3rd book to see what Philippa Gregory does with these adventurers.

    http://dabofdarkness.com/2013/08/30/stormbringers-by-philippa-gregory/

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    Replies
    1. I completely agree! I'm definitely planning on picking up the next book but I'm hoping it will be more like the first one in the series :o) I'm very curious to see what happens as they continue their journey though. I'm about to check out your review and will add the link to mine for you.

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