Review of The Withered King (Tempest Blades #1) by Ricardo Victoria

Fionn is the wielder of a legendary Tempest Blade, and he is blessed – or cursed – by the Gift. Though his days as a warrior are long over, his past leaves him full of guilt and regret. Life, however, has other plans for him, when he agrees to help a friend locate a missing person.
Gaby and Alex never expected to become heroes… until they met Fionn. As an ancient evil arises and consumes the land, Fionn must help them to master their own Gifts and Tempest Blades.
Together the three of them, and their friends, will chart a course aboard the flying ship Figaro to save the planet. Will Fionn’s past be an anchor, or will he overcome the one failure from his former life before time runs out?
In a world where magic and science intermingle, anything is possible.
Including second chances.

Straight off the bat, this is a whirlwind of a book, it’s colourful, imaginative, with great characters and world building. Personally, I found it just a little hectic at times. There are a ton of great things in this story and as a lover of high fantasy, the opening pages were by far my favourite. Great banter, confident characters that were awesome and they knew it, amazing battles with mystical weapons and magics. The violence has very much an anime/manga feel, ultra violent, with plenty of belief suspending moves and loss of limbs. These moments felt like I was watching a manga in my mind or back playing mortal kombat in my bedroom! For much of the book I was left feeling that it would work incredibly well as a graphic novel and the cover is far more suited to that than a fiction novel. I’m sorry to say that the cover didn’t really work for me in this context. The fights are very much the main focus of this book and what happens in between often feels a bit like a means of getting from one battle to another. I didn’t mind this though as the combat was incredibly well written and I loved it, however, if you’re sensitive to a lot of violence and killing then it may get too much.

The characters were just my favourite type of rag tag misfit brigade. The magics are known as “the Gift” and they are a great blend of those who’s gift is established, those who are coming into their gift and those who are not gifted at all, although all have their place. The Tempest Blades feel like characters themselves and I have to give a shout out to the great take on the tale of Excalibur! Gaby is by far my favourite of the team, I am a huge fan of the resident evil films and she had a real Alice feel, especially with the way she fought and her “lets do this” attitude. The monsters had an interesting feel to them, like inspiration had been drawn from a number of well loved fandoms and given the presence of the maze, I did give thought to the maze runner series too. I loved the school of the Freefolk it was so beautifully written giving it a dreamlike feel, I actually felt pretty awestruck as it began to take shape in my mind. The the author does description so well, really taking the time to paint a picture of the surroundings. These moments were needed as an antidote to the fighting, as it left me with a feeling that they actually had something to fight for. As well as the fantasy elements, there are times of social commentary which felt pertinent to today’s world and I liked how those moments were woven in.

I’m finding it really hard to settle on a rating because whilst I loved the characters, the battles and magic system, I found it a little hard going at times, there is a lot happening and I was often left wishing that it felt more grounded, some of the dialogue felt repetitive and at times I did feel a little blinded by the science. It’s also not a pick up and put down book, but when I had a good chunk of reading time, things fell into place far more neatly. The genres seemed to flip and change too, starting as high fantasy, moving to urban fantasy and then to a kind of low/high fantasy hybrid. When you’re in each section it works brilliantly but I did find each shift a little jarring.

In the scheme of things though these are really minor points and for the most part I did really enjoy it. My thanks to Ricardo Victoria for the review copy and I hope to see the Tempest Blades on another adventure in the future!




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