Title: Windcatcher (Book 1)
Author: A.J. Norfield
Publisher: Lowsea Publishing
Date of publication: February 29th 2016
Format: Digital Review Copy
Number of pages: 386
Far away from home, under the command of his brother, Raylan and his squad must retrieve an ancient relic stolen from their kingdom’s trading partner—the Tiankong Empire.
Traveling deep into unknown enemy territory to complete their mission, Raylan learns that the ancient relic holds unexpected life; a creature buried in legends, one not seen in their world for more than two hundred years.
With their enemies closing in, Raylan and his friends search, desperately, for a safe way home. Danger lurks around every corner: Warriors larger than any man, predators stalking them through the night and soldiers determined to hunt them down. Leaving them all little choice, except to keep moving as they strategically plot—and skillfully fight—their way back to those awaiting their return.
Many of my friends love fantasy, and thanks to them, I was introduced to the genre, its rules and some of its creatures. This is why I agreed to review WindCatcher. That and the fact the author gave me the image of my dog and myself on an epic adventure through dangerous lands! Who could resist to the idea?
I can’t say the opening doesn’t know how to grab your attention! I was not expecting anything in particular so when the action started before I reached the 5% mark, I was surprised but interested. The author brilliantly combined enough mystery and fighting to tickle my interest from the start, and believe me, fighting scenes often leave me dead cold so he did a great job!
Fastforward some time later and you’re with a squad trying to get a stolen object back (Yes, I’m being vague on purpose, as usual!) I felt the beginning dragged a little too much for me as we alternated between battles, world-building and the introduction of characters, but when I finally started to remember who was who and doing what, I found myself caught in the game. I am aware this is a rule of fantasy: to get the reader invested in the world and story while avoiding info-dumping and giving them enough action to satisfy their appetite! Quite a task, if you ask me! Still, there were enough descriptions to make me travel to places the wuss I am would rather not set foot in, and enough blood so I would make a list of who had had the worst death. It was very fun!
But what I thought would be a light read, with a couple of entertaining parts, soon became much more intricate as we dived into the heart of the story. No Throne of Glass syndrome here, the plot is skillfully handled, every character has a mission and a point, there is no confusion, and there is an actual storyline that makes sense!
With the relic as the center of the story, you get to understand the balance of the team as they make progress in their journey and even with fairly sketchy information, you grab enough to know
Winter is coming this is no holiday. Raylan and his brother, leader of the team, have a complicity and reflect a natural brotherly feeling I was happy to see, as a touch of normality in a story I knew would bring me enough surprises. You also get to meet the team… Some members for longer than others. I have to mention it because I wasn’t prepared for it and I suffered for those poor lads. But the team spirit is here, along with the skills of trained soldiers, the bravery you hope to find in the better men, and the camaraderie you need to face the world. Only Jack Bauer can survive and do it all alone.
Suddenly things get real and what was just a mysterious and only barely discussed ancient object turns into a giant surprise. Not so giant at first. I do remember his first scene reminding me of the very famous Game of Thrones one, but kinder. While the show’s ancient and supposedly dead dragons gave me the creeps and scared the hell out of me, this “relic” felt different and you cannot help connect with it thanks to a very descriptive and clever writing of the meeting of a lifetime. I felt for it instantly, and so did Raylan. I found the development of their relationship well-executed, and I admit I wish I could have the same friend at home! I am going to offend people but I couldn’t help thinking Raylan and Galliras the dragon were adorably cute. Yes, a dragon can be cute. Cute and a wonderful way to look at human beings and how they function and what they do. I only wished the “meeting” would have happened slightly sooner as I was starting to wonder about its utility at all in the story.
I do not want to delve into the plot and reveal more than I should but I guarantee you blood, treason, battles and sacrifice. I promise you action, creatures, hidden agendas, and pages filled with enemies and the wonders of an unknown and not so welcoming world. I vouch for an epic fantasy story that won’t just check off the usual items you’re looking for, but offer you a glimpse of a bond from another world, and the pledge for darker days to come.
Windcatcher is the powerful first installment in a promising series. It took me by surprise, made me fly to a different continent and reality, and offered me a wonderful reading time. I cannot wait to follow Raylan and Galirras in their next adventure!
Find Windcatcher on Amazon
A.J. Norfield lives with his loving family on land, but below sea level. He tries not to worry too much about climate change and the melting of the polar ice caps. His wife, and two rascals of children, keep him engaged and grounded in life, as he writes the nights away.
Whilst he is a long time story creator, ‘The Stone War Chronicles’ series is A.J.’s first official undertaking into the world of publishing. His books show influences from nature, conservation and the traveling he does around the world, as well as every day things like family, sports and a simple moment enjoying the sun.
As a reader, A.J. Norfield enjoys books from the likes of Anne McCaffrey, Terry Goodkind and Naomi Novik—to name only a few of many—which also inspired him to create his own world of fantasy and the people (and dragons) within it.
You can find A.J on Twitter @AJNorfield