Series: The Hurricane Wars #1
Published by Harper Voyager on October 3, 2023
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.
The fates of two bitter enemies with opposing magical abilities are swept together in The Hurricane Wars, the spellbinding debut in a fantasy romance trilogy set in a Southeast Asia-inspired world ravaged by storms, perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas and R. F. Kuang.
The heart is a battlefield.
All Talasyn has ever known is the Hurricane Wars. Growing up an orphan in a nation under siege by the ruthless Night Emperor, Talasyn has found her family among the soldiers who fight for freedom. But she is hiding a deadly secret: light magic courses through her veins, a blazing power believed to have been wiped out years ago that can cut through the Night Empire's shadows.
Prince Alaric, the emperor's only son and heir, has been forged into a weapon by his father. Tasked with obliterating any threats to the Night Empire's rule with the strength of his armies and mighty Shadow magic, Alaric has never been bested. That is until he sees Talasyn burning brightly on the battlefield with the magic that killed his grandfather, turned his father into a monster, and ignited the Hurricane Wars. In a clash of light and dark, their powers merge and create a force the likes of which has never been seen.
Talasyn and Alaric both know this war can only end with them. But a greater threat is coming, and the strange new magic they can create together could be the only way to overcome it. Thrust into an uneasy alliance, they will confront the secrets at the heart of the war and find, in each other, a searing passion--one that could save their world...or destroy it.
An exquisite fantasy brimming with unforgettable characters, sizzling enemies-to-lovers romance, and richly drawn worlds, The Hurricane Wars marks the breathtaking debut of an extraordinary new writer.
This is book 1 of a trilogy but I am not as excited as I thought I would be for more of this story.
THERE ARE SLIGHT SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
In Part 1 of this story, we are in the 10th year of a battle between the Sardovian Allfold and the Night Empire with more and more land being ceded to the Empire. The Sardovians are losing more and more of their fighters to the magic of the powerful Shadowforged. (Their magic is black and shadowy.) They have one last ace up their sleeves, one last surviving Lightweaver (bright light magic) to fight the growing darkness but growing up an orphan, Talasyn knows nothing of how to wield her magic.
It has been reported that there is still a lightweaver sever (temple) that hasn’t been destroyed by the Empire on the Island of the Nenavar Domonion. But the Nenavar aren’t interested in choosing sides in a battle against the Night Empire. Talasyn needs to sneak over to their island in hopes of communing with the sever and boosting her power. But a traitor among their legions provides these plans to Alaric Ossinast, Master of the Shadowforged legion and son of Emperor Gaheris. He intercepts Talasyn before she can do more than walk into the decaying temple. Their very loud clash of dark and light magic brings them to the attention of the guards and during an interrogation, the Dominion Prince come to realize that Talasyn is his missing daughter and heir to their throne. But Talasyn doesn’t have time to worry about finding the long last family she always dreamed she would find. Her friends need her especially when the alarms sound that Alaric has escaped. While fierce enemies, something happens when the Dominion’s guards turned their weapons on both Talasyn and Alaric, they throw out their magic which surprisingly combines, protecting them both from the attack.
In Part II of this story, the Night Empire has won the war and control the continent and Talasyn takes the remaining Sardovian forces to Nenavar. She makes a deal to step up as heir if they hide her friends until they can figure out how they can fight back against the Night Empire. Talasyn finds life in court is fraught with more battles and while bloodless, they are still dangerous. It is not the life she expected but she will do whatever her grandmother expects to keep her friends safe.
Of course, the Empire is not satisfied with just the continent and they eventually come knocking on the door of Nenavar in order to get their hands on the greater technology that the Dominion has been able to create since they haven’t spent the last decade waging war. Talasyn is horrified when her grandmother offers Talasyn to the newly crowned Emperor Alaric Ossinast in a bid to stave off their own war with the Night Empire and to keep their own government in tact. Alaric might now wear the crown of Emperor but his father is still pulling the strings and forces him to accept this offer of a bride. Alaric is shocked but not entirely unhappy to find his new bride will be Talasyn as long as the can keep her from pulling a knife on him.
The rest of the story involves negotiations and wedding preparations and a revelation of why the grandmother was so quick to offer Talasyn to her greatest enemy.
I requested a copy of this story after I heard a glowing recommendation from one of the authors that I follow. I was happy to get approved for an ARC of this story which comes out in October. The description of the story left me thinking that these former enemies would find a great love in each other and join together to battle a greater evil. After almost 500 pages, I give is a solid Meh.
Just some things to point out…by the end of this story, Talasyn and Alaric had a few possible moments (confessions, near kisses) and theymight have found a connection until Alaric’s father pointed out that he noticed Alaric’s infatuation with Talasyn, indicated that she would never return any feeling and shamed him that she would lead him about like a dog. After that conversation, Alaric shut down any further tender moments between them.
Talasyn had her own similar conversations within her own head when she found herself softening to her greatest enemy, a man whose armies killed many of her friends. I would have like Talasyn to have been frank with Alaric, that he and his Dad were the monsters under her bed for more than a decade so coming to terms with being his bride will take a long time to get used to, or something to that effect. In short, we didn’t get this great romance that was indicated. I can see the possibility of it but after 450 pages, it wasn’t working for me.
We also have these two constantly bashing heads over which side is in the right; first over why the war began originally and again about whose side should be in charge. While anytime we saw Alaric’s father, all I can see in my head is Star War’s Emperor Palpatine in his hooded cloak on his spinny chair. We see him berate and demean Alaric but this is all Alaric knows and he can’t see his father as anything but a great leader. Talasyn is an orphan and a foot soldier, she isn’t trained to battle wits with a woman who has held the power of the Dominion for decades. While Alaric and Talasyn constantly scream that their side is right, what we don’t know is really who is right? Except for my feelings of Emperor Gaheris/Palpatine and how he treats Alaric, we don’t know if the Night Empire it taking care of all their new citizens or putting them all in bondage. Alaric is angry that under Talasyn’s beloved Allfold, she ran away from the orphanage to live on the dangerous streets stealing food since the streets were a better option to the constant abuse at the orphanage. How can that be a better way of life, but again, we aren’t seeing how the Night Empire is now treating their people. Alaric has spent all his time fighting on the front line, he doesn’t handled the clean up and while he has been crowned Emperor, he was still being sent out to see who to dominate next. He really has no knowledge of what his happening in the world after he conquered the last village.
Talasyn also never takes a moment to step back from her anger to say “Once we are married, what can we do to make the Empire great for all the people.” Someone pointed out to her that after the wedding she would then be Empress of the Night Empire but she never seems to think “hey, we lost the war but what can I do to make the Empire a good government for the people.” Alaric and Talasyn have very fragile but growing feelings for each other and what will solidify them is the fact that both sides are clearly plotting and acting in bad faith for the destruction of the other side.
I also kept feeling like this was a Star Wars knock-off: The Emperor; Night Empire vs The Empire; magically created weapons vs lightsabers; stormships vs. battle cruisers; magic-driven Wasps vs x-wing fighters…This might not be entirely untrue since a search of the author’s webpage shows she is also writing Star Wars literature.
As I was running out of pages, I could see where I should have been left panting for the next book.
I can see where a bond would forge between Talasyn and Alaric if they stood together as a unit since neither had anyone firmly in their corner. How long before this bond forms? Will they walk through the Night Empire lands and Alaric find his father’s leadership failing? How long will that take? Book 2? Book 3? By the time we finish, this might be a great story but after 450 pages, all I can say is ‘meh.’
“I can’t do this!” Talasyn all but yelled at Jie.
To her credit, the lady-in-waiting didn’t so much as flinch as she performed the delicate task of affixing tiny specks of diamonds to the tips of Talasyn’s eyelashes. They weren’t even her real lashes. She hadn’t even know that artificial ones existed until her arrival at court. They were unnaturally long and thick and she couldn’t see.
“You’re getting the wedding jitters, Lachis’ka, it’s completely normal,” Jie reassured her. “Why, my older brother climbed out the window the morning of his nuptials. When Mother’s guards apprehended him, he babbled some nonsense about embracing his true calling as a pirate–Your Grace, with all due respect, no,” she said firmly when she noticed that Talasyn was side-eyeing her bedroom window in desperation.
“Is Ossinast still here?” Talasyn asked. “Maybe I can talk to him and we can turn to a life of piracy instead.”