Book Review – Harbinger of the Storm
by Rose Hill
This is the sequel to Servant of the Underworld, which I reviewed here. Harbinger of the Storm continued the first’s standard of correctly-written polytheism that matters to both the characters and world. I realize this is historical fantasy and the gods referenced aren’t even mine, but I have never felt so acknowledged as a Pagan reader. It’s wonderful. If you want to know how to write polytheism correctly in fantasy, read this series (Obsidian and Blood).
Like the first, this book purports to be a mystery novel. And there is a murder being solved, don’t get me wrong. But as a lover of political fantasy, I felt like this was political fantasy at its finest.
The king is dead and the throne does not go straight to the heir. The council must vote between a number of worthy candidates. And, in true political fashion, everyone has their own agenda and their own favorite. This being fantasy, magic is part of the way they put forth those agendas and the use of dangerous magic is part of the mystery our hero must solve.
The stakes have definitely increased in this book. Servant of the Underworld focused on saving his brother’s life amidst inter-temple drama. In Harbinger of the Storm, all of humanity is threatened is threatened by the politicking. Our hero is constantly racing the clock to protect the Fifth World. And I like Acatl even more now than I did in the first book–he’s lost some of his family baggage and is more sure of himself and his role as a priest in a bellicose culture.
New characters are introduced, old characters take on new roles, and even beloved favorites are not safe from death.
Recommended for: Fans of the first book, those who want non-Western fantasy, fans of mysteries, worldbuilders, fans of high-stakes fantasy