Stranger Of Tempest (Book 1 of The God Fragments) by Tom Lloyd (book review).

Lynx is a warrior abandoned by his own nation and picked up by a band of mercenaries who have been sent on an unlikely rescue mission. So begins ‘Stranger Of Tempest’ by Tom Lloyd, an action-packed fantasy adventure very much in the same vein of Joe Abercrombie.

As the story unfolds, we learn more about the band that Lynx has thrown his lot in with, led by the enigmatic Anatin. Having completed the mission, the group encounter a young mage by the name of Sitain, who is on the run from a group of knights that want to enslave her to work in their munitions factories.

The novel’s depiction of magic is one of the book’s most unique features. Magic is essentially a weapon, created from the pieces of destroyed gods, hence the series being titled ‘The God Fragments’. Mages are set to work in factories and magical power can be harnessed inside mage guns. This means that use of magic is not restricted to a few gifted individuals, but can be wielded by anyone.

Lloyd handles this element of the world-building well. With Lynx being the ‘stranger’ of the novel’s title, he’s well-placed to introduce us to the Riven Kingdom. From his initial hungover internment in a foreign prison cell to navigating the labyrinthine streets of a ruined city, he’s funny and resourceful enough to keep the novel moving. His exchanges with the female mercenary, Toil, are particularly good fun. Lloyd is an experienced fantasy author having previously written ‘The Twilight Reign’ series and his style is confident, modern and amusing.

Pleasingly, ‘Stranger Of Tempest’ can be read as a standalone novel, my acid test for any new book of a series, the curious reader at least expects a beginning, middle and end. The story hangs together well and, while I wasn’t desperate to see what happens next, I enjoyed the journey. ‘Stranger Of Tempest’ is an enjoyable romp and we can expect more from Tom Lloyd in future.

John Rivers

March 2018

(pub: Gollancz, 2016. 457 page small hardback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-473-21317-3)

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