Title: Sand & Storm
Author: Patty Jansen
Series: (Moonfire trilogy #1)
Pub. Date: June 24th, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy
The entire world laid to waste. There are no second chances.
The ancient machine that produced icefire was destroyed twenty years ago, but the deadly magic is again on the increase. No one understands why or where it’s coming from.
Icefire controls the weather and massive changes in weather patterns plunge the northern half of the inhabited world in deep drought. The tide of refugees swells, but as long as no one knows where the icefire is coming from, nowhere is safe.
King Isandor sends people to investigate a concentration of icefire in the mountains at the border, but two consecutive patrols both vanish. It appears that, after having suffered badly in wars, the neighbouring country Arania is on the offensive, and is using icefire as weapon. Their culture is harsh and their barbarism knows no boundaries.
Meanwhile two young meteorology students make a string of discoveries about icefire that will change the way the people understand the world. They’re on the threshold of the age of enlightenment, but vital knowledge necessary to save their world may well get lost when war overruns the inhabited world.
I found myself drawn to the premise and promise of this book as soon as I started it. I thought about the book while I wasn’t reading it and was eager to return to certain parts of it, hooked by a character. For me, that was enough to overlook the few flaws I ran into.
The writing is gritty and raw, Zaina and Javes chapters really setting a tone that some sensitive readers may be unnerved by, but hooks others in. As I am one who got hooked, I was entranced by the world and the intriguing set up of Windwalkers (which are basically a race of people who collect ancient, odd objects and survive in the desert by wearing wrappings like a mummy) and Dust Devils (which are basically icefire desert tornadoes, from what I understand) that both played a large part in Javes job of being a young meteorologist apprentice whose Teacher died, and also Zaina’s life. There are compelling questions and discoveries about the people, the past war with icefire, and the oncoming war with Arainia. When violent, bad people want something, you have to fight like hell to keep it.
I immensely enjoyed Zaina’s character, a literate and skilled mechanic who is half Arainian and fighting to keep away from her birth place, while also fighting against an Arainian Prince who wants something from her. She tries to escape, tries to stay strong and fight back, but she’s not strong enough for a Prince of Arainia, who is the definition of darkness. I found her struggle to do what’s right and speak out compelling and understandable, especially since the author made her realistic. Her chapters were my favourite in the entire novel.
The world building left me confused in the beginning, and that was a shame because I feel I would’ve understood it better had I read the icefire trilogy, even though it’s not necessary. I wasn’t clear on why the students were sent to different places to work, why icefire was so dangerous, and how the Kingdom hierarchy worked, as Princes and Kings are important to Arainia, but Queens and daughters are important in another one.
I also felt like information was piled on us at one point. I admit, I skimmed small parts in a few chapters, because I had already figured out what was being written, or there was way too much information and I got impatient. This was unfortunate because I really enjoyed reading this story, and I would’ve loved to say I hadn’t skipped anything.
Overall, Sand & Storm is a compelling, fascinating fantasy read. This novel doesn’t stray from dark and gritty and raw details, nor does it avoid racial or class issues. So despite the few issues I had, I enjoyed this book and I can’t wait for the next one!