Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Sea of Storms by Mark Whiteway

Title: The Sea of Storms
Author: Mark Whiteway
Series: Lodestone #1
Published: April 12, 2010
Pages: 290 (paperback)
I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Alli-Kar, a white-hole portal from another universe, rains meteoroids onto the surface of the planet Kelanni. But the so-called "lodestones" behave according to different physical laws, transforming Kelanni's society.

With the aid of the fearsome Keltar in their flying cloaks, the Kelanni are being put to forced labor to mine the lodestones.

Shann, an orphan with a fiery disposition, witnesses a battle between a Keltar and a stranger bearing a similar flying cloak. She tracks down the stranger, learning of the technology behind the Keltars' power and joining him on a mission to free the slaves and cut off their supply of lodestones.

Meanwhile Keris, a Keltar, is sent on a mission to track down the rebels. She is attacked by a flying creature and saved by the enigmatic Chandara. At their Great Tree, she learns that a mysterious "Prophet" is out to destroy the Kelanni people. Their only hope is a powerful instrument hidden in the distant past.

Pursued by Keltar, the party will encounter bizarre creatures, ancient technologies and terrifying dangers. Finally, they must seek to cross a massive storm barrier in order to reach the other side of their world, where a world-shaking revelation awaits
. --Goodreads


One of my favorite things about books is that they have the power to transport the reader anywhere in the world, even if that means transporting them to a different world. Whiteway capitalizes on this power, and uses it to his advantage to bring the reader a creative story filled with crazy animals, gliding cloaks, and star-crossed destiny.

At first, the the book appears to be strictly science fiction. The story takes place in the world of Kelanni--a planet devoid of human life, yet incredibly human at the same time. Its inhabitants are being oppressed by the Keltar, guardians of the Prophet who have abused their power in the name of their savior. But when one of the characters receives an important message from the past, an epic journey begins and the characters embark on a quest to travel beyond the Sea of Storms. In the tradition of J.R.R’s Lord of the Rings, after the quest is received, the plot becomes fast paced and action filed. There is little down time to become bored, especially in between events like escaping a slave camp or rescuing a comrade from a giant lava snake’s den. The world was rich with its own customs, natural laws, crazy creatures and landscapes that, when combined, had me wishing that my jacket was filled with lodestones.

However, despite the exciting pacing of the plot and the amazing amount of easy-to-understand detail that Whiteway puts into the more alien aspects of his novel, reading the first 100 pages or so was difficult for me. Not because I didn’t like was I was reading, but because I couldn’t connect to the characters. There wasn’t enough background information given about most of the main characters to make me identify what drove them to embark on the dangerous quest, other than the reason that the world depended on it. I needed that emotional connection, the one that makes me go, “Aww…she has no other choice,” or “Oh snap, he’s going for revenge!” and really believe it. Regardless, Shann, Alando, Lyall, and Keris provided an even balance of skills to the group, and their personalities played well off of each other--especially towards the end. It was hard to choose a favorite, but if I had to, it would probably be Alando. His light-hearted comments relieved some of the tension of the story, and I enjoyed listening to his well placed words of wisdom.

Overall, the novel was very well done, and the end had me sitting on the edge of my seat. Even though the beginning was a little slow, once the edges of the plot were outlined it became a roller coaster of action and adventure. If you're into books that blend science fiction and fantasy (and blend it extremely well), then I highly recommend you pick up the first book in the Lodestone series. A fair warning, though: The end is a cliffhanger, and a seriously painful one! I know I’ll have to get my hands on the sequel as soon as I get the chance.