Hammers In the Wind: Book I of the Northern Crusade
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Harnin One Eye patiently awaited him.
“Well?” Badron asked.
“We’ve had trackers scour every avenue of approach to the Keep. They determined the enemy was able to move through the eastern forest. There were a large number of tracks just outside the walls.”
Badron nodded thoughtfully. That part made sense. The forest was the most vulnerable side of the Keep. He silently cursed himself for not cutting it down years ago. “So they used the cover of darkness to get close. How did they get inside though? There are no entrances on that part of the Keep.”
“We are still trying to figure that out, sire. More importantly, I have come to believe that the attackers were not Pell Darga.”
Badron’s eyes narrowed. “Explain.”
Harnin cleared his throat, uncomfortable with the hatred in his king’s eyes. “The Pell are a mountain folk. As such, they have need of a sure-footed pony, not horses bred for the open steppe. No one has seen one in a lifetime, making most doubt their existence. None of our patrols have come across any signs in the last few years. What then would be their reasoning for driving down from their distant mountain kingdom to kidnap your daughter? It doesn’t make sense.”
The senior captain and advisor chose his words carefully, partly because he wasn’t sure how Badron would react and partly because he recognized the frailty of this time. All of Delranan held its breath. War was nearing, but against whom? Harnin hid his smile as Badron asked just that.
“Who then has a vested interest in seeing my house in ruins?”
“My lord, Malweir is an ever-dangerous world. I’ve heard rumors of a civil war between the Dwarf clans to the east. Strange companies of Elves and Goblins have been seen wandering through the land. Some even whisper of the return of the fabled Gaimosian Knights.”
Badron shook his head. He’d heard the fairy tales as well and refused to mire his thoughts in such. “For all that you name I can find no true enemy.”
“That leaves Rogscroft.”
The word stung, hanging in the air like a miasma of doom.
Badron sneered. “They couldn’t possibly know what our plans are.”
Harnin shrugged. “Perhaps not, but Prince Aurec is your daughter’s lover whether you choose to accept it or not. There is a chance he might have succumbed to an act of grave stupidity.”
“Or at the insistence of his father,” the king finished. He smashed a fist into his palm. He regretted not invading his hated foe those many years ago. “Aurec is no fool, neither is his father. They are brash but not foolish enough to risk reprisal.”
“Rogscroft will deny everything, naturally. Not that it matters much, all tracks lead back to the east. This is our chance to finally blame them. It also gives us the perfect opportunity to go to war and remove them from existence.”
The prospect of no more subversion enticed Badron. “The Wolfsreik is already marshalling, but it will take time, as you pointed out, for them to actually muster the strength to march. I do not want to tip our hand to our enemies. Continue to use the Pell as an excuse. Keep our people and his spies in the dark for as long as we can and the advantage is ours. Let us catch them unaware.”
The bell tolled again, deep and ominous.
“It is time, sire,” Harnin grimly announced.
“Then come, let us bury my son.”
This story is about good versus evil, peace versus war, loyalty versus treason, and prosperity versus poverty. A darkness has been unleashed leaving little to no hope for the good people of Malweir. By the end of this first book, I’m still questioning who will win. Focus was placed on mentorships and friendships within all the factions. My favorite part was “listening” to these conversations between the undisciplined youths and their mentors. Kids, no matter their origin, tend to be short-tempered and hot-headed. The mentors repeatedly demonstrate high levels of patience which stems from years of experience.
My favorite character is Boen. He is a big, strong Gaimosian. His honesty, trustworthiness, intelligence and elite fighting skills make him a perfect choice for the upcoming mission. I am also loving Rekka Jel because who doesn’t love a strong female who can single-handedly raze a small military unit without batting an eye? Her skills rival that of Boen.
The character development is adequate. Each person is described well enough to understand his/her place in the story. The dialogue tended to be difficult to follow, as is written. Entire paragraphs of quotes annotating different speakers, but not much to indicate who is saying what.
Throughout the book, I came across missing and/or unsatisfactory transitions from one paragraph to the next. The author writes what the character is waiting for at the end of one paragraph and then the next paragraph jumps right into the next scene. It’s as if the author is thinking about the transition, assumes the reader does, as well, and then begins writing in the middle of the next scene.
I loved the story! I am looking forward to the next book in the series. I need to learn what happens. I need to know if love can be saved. Will the people be saved?
I recommend this book to anyone with a thirst for adventure.