Lynx is reluctant to join the mercenary crew. He prefers to work alone, relying on his own wits to survive and finding work as he needs to in order to keep his belly full. When events turn against him, however, he needs a job in a hurry, and so agrees to join up with the crew for a single mission until things have calmed down. And it’s a fairly straightforward job – rescue a kidnapped girl and return her to her father. What could go wrong?
From the opening of the novel (which is one of the best I’ve read in a long time), you can tell that things aren’t going to go plan:
For a damsel in distress, she was rather more spattered with someone else’s blood than Lynx had expected. And naked. Very naked.
And what should have been a relatively simple task becomes ever more complicated as a group of fanatical Knights pursue the group following the rescue operation, determined to take revenge against the group for killing some of their brethren.
The novel alternates between the ‘now’ as the mercenaries run their rescue mission, and the recent (two weeks ago) past, showing how Lynx came to join the crew and to explain the situation that they find themselves in with the Knights-Charnel. This was brilliantly done – and the prelude to their current mission is as entertaining as the mission itself. Additionally, this structure allows Lloyd to introduce the key players in the novel in such a way that it isn’t overwhelming, which is a risk given that the mercenary crew is some 40 odd people strong. Rather, the reader gets a steady ‘drip feed’ of new characters, thus avoiding the risk of confusion.
And what characters they are! Each with their own skills, and with women who are as capable as the men. Lynx in particular is a fascinating character. Rather than being the muscled Adonis you might expect as a heroic figure, he’s a man with a paunch who likes his food and drink, perhaps a little too much. He sticks to his morals, and this seems to land him in trouble more often than not:
You choose to do what’s right, even if it means you’re dying that day.
Lynx is a man who is haunted by his past, largely from the time he spent in the army. The rest of the crew find him standoffish and difficult to get to know, and whilst the reader is given more information, you feel that there’s more to his past to be revealed.
In Stranger of Tempest, Lloyd has created a massive new world, rich in history and detail. Past wars between nations have caused grudges that remain to this day, and I really enjoyed seeing how this element played out in the story. I think that I’d like to see a bit more of the world – to understand the differences between each country and its people etc. and I hope that this will be explored in later books in the series.
Stranger of Tempest, the first book in The God Fragments sequence, will be published on 16 June in the UK, and a follow up is currently scheduled for 2017. Many thanks to Tom Lloyd for the ARC – this is a great start to what I expect will be an amazing new series, and will appeal to those who, like me, felt bereft when Chris Wooding completed his Tales of the Ketty Jay series as well as fans of Scott Lynch.