My name is Vayo, and I am a slave.
My people lived in Argia, the City of Light, before Nabonidus the Defiler swept across the land. He conquered, murdering and enslaving the other tribes. I was born after the fall, in a crumbling pit of despair and sadness.
Nabonidus crowned himself ruler of the land, building his new kingdom from the rubble of our fallen world. I live and serve them now, my head bowed, and my eyes down. That is, until a master servant chose me.
My new duty? Attending the King himself, serving the man that ruined my people. Desperate for blessings, I placed an offering to the Mother Goddess on my roof. Afterwards, I fell into a strange dream. One where I soared over the dunes on wings of radiant feathers. Shouts and screams startled me awake, and I watched as the King’s men carried my friend away. I followed, deep into dark tunnels beneath my fallen city.
Fleeing the horrors I witnessed below, I hid in the one place they would not think to look. Inside that forbidden temple and buried beneath the rubble of our broken past I stumbled upon a peculiar sight. A beautiful warrior, with her arms wrapped around a shimmering, blue egg.
Life as I know it will never be the same.
Disclaimer: I got a copy of Wings of the Storm in order for the Tour with Escapists Book Company. This hasn’t influenced either the score or the review
Wings of the Storm is the first book in the high fantasy saga The Dunes of Aelaron, co-written by Aaron Bunce and Christopher Guhl. It’s a really entertaining coming-of-age story, with a strong female main character, gods that still exist and can influence the actions of mortals, and different civilizations pursuing power over others. It has all the elements to become a perfect page-turner, a really enjoyable novel, and even from the start makes you bite your nails.
The prologue is a good example of how to start the first book in a series. It gives you some historical information, prepares the background, and is packed with plenty of action, showing for the first time how vivid these two writers are able to describe action scenes; serving also as an introduction to why Nabonidus and his tribe are ruling over Vayo’s one.
From that point, we are going to be some years after the prologue, following the point of view of our main character, Vayo, a young woman born as a slave who is working in the Nabonidus’ palace, having different functions, being chosen as the assistant of the king himself. This marks the point which changes the life of our main character, impacting heavily as she starts discovering secrets about the royal family, marking the point to her arc as the chosen one who will free her tribe from slavery and that will bring back the storm gods. It’s really cool to see our main character grow from a simple servant to a real leader, how the doubts sometimes haunt her, and how taking responsibility changes her for the good.
The chosen-one trope is something that will be repeated throughout the book, and probably becoming sometimes the source of too many convenient situations that will make the story evolve in a way that is better for Vayo or for her paper as the heroine of her tribe. I’m not a fan of soft magic systems, and probably this is one of the main reasons, as the lack of rules sometimes is used to force the narrative to go in the direction wanted resorting too much to the use of convenient things, as can be the visions or the hearings of the wind of Vayo.
The writing is well crafted, having a narrative full of action, and that hooks you from the start, avoiding most of the possible info-dumping and integrating it as an organic part of the storytelling. An aspect that should be spotlighted is how vivid the scenes become, especially when they involve violence or more gore-ish situations; there are moments where you feel really uncomfortable reading about them, as intended, transmitting what Vayo is experiencing at that moment.
The world-building is really interesting, mixing elements from different cultures and creating a mashup that makes you want to know more about it. While the main inspiration is ancient Egypt, we can see some small details such as the names of Vayo’s tribe people, which are inspired by the ones used in nowadays Euskadi. Mythology makes me feel curious, as there are a fair amount of gods, whose powers manifest in the world (and whose stories maybe someday could inspire a book like the Life of Saints).
In summary, Wings of the Storm is a really entertaining book, which will delight high fantasy lovers, and is perfect for those that enjoy coming-of-age stories. While the main arc is closed, there are enough plots open at the end of this book to deserve a sequel, Godseye, which will be published in 2023, and that, at least for me, will be the perfect excuse to return to Aelaron.
Aaron Bunce and Christopher Guhl
Around every turn, Christopher Guhl expects to be dazzled by something unexpected, amazing, and fantastical. Though still waiting for the day when a wizard shows up on his doorstep, he now creates the worlds he dreams of on his own, plucking them from his mind like seeds and allowing them to grow after proper nourishing.
He fell in love with writing while completing a creative writing emphasis track at the University of Iowa. Then took those skills and wrote his debut novel, NAEVIA-18, a young adult science fiction novel akin to The Giver and Divergent. Next, he moved to fantasy worlds with ABSOLUTE ESSENCE, a fantasy adventure with elemental monsters, strange creatures, and powerful magic. After a novella, DESCENT, set in the world of Naevia-18, Christopher is ready to tackle his next adventure, joining forces with a strange, cloaked man that showed up on his doorstep…
A devoted scribbler and award winning author, Aaron Bunce has been seeking a portal to another world since childhood. Once he finally gave up on finding a magical wardrobe or teleporting phonebooth, he decided to write about new worlds instead.
A graduate of Southern New Hampshire’s English program, Aaron has been a writer, editor, publisher, and audiobook producer. His passion is stories, but more so, characters, as they drive the experience. He started writing in fantasy, bounced to science fiction horror, veered into LitRPG territory, and has touched many other genres in between.
Aaron and Christopher are excited to bring their newest offering to readers, as they launch an all-new fantasy saga—The Dunes of Aelaron. Featuring wind-swept dunes, dark, meddlesome gods, and massive stormbirds, the electric first offering, Wings of the Storm, will blow readers away.