Stormlord Rising, the second novel in Glenda Larke’s WATERGIVERS trilogy, starts right where The Last Stormlord left off: Ryka is a captive of the marauding Reduners, Terelle is traveling to Khromatis against her will, and Jasper — the titular last stormlord — finds himself forced to work together with his nemesis (and now de facto ruler) Taquar Sardonyx to create much-needed rainstorms for the parched lands of the Quartern. With almost every main character forced into a situation they don’t want be in right from the start, this novel is a darker and, unfortunately, less enjoyable story than its predecessor.
Ravard is an interesting new character, though most readers will figure out right away who he actually is. Fortunately, that doesn’t spoil what’s possibly the most multi-dimensional character in the series. In comparison, other characters are thin, especially the renegade rainlord Taquar and Davim the Reduner leader. These two villains sometimes lapse into cartoon-like speech that’s so over-the-top evil that, if this were a Bond movie, they’d probably be in wheelchairs, wearing monocles and petting white cats.
The Last Stormlord is a fast-paced read, but there are a few points where Stormlord Rising drags, especially during a number of repetitive arguments between the main characters. Although the chapters focusing on Ryka and Ravard keep the reader’s interest, they unfortunately contain many of the more transparent plot twists. The chapters featuring Terelle’s water painting suffer from the same problem, particularly as Terelle’s abilities become a magical and all-too-convenient fix for seemingly insurmountable problems. At times, this transparency, together with the relative thinness of many characters, gives Stormlord Rising a young adult tone. Re-reading The Last Stormlord for this review, I noticed it actually has the same problem, but that novel is so fast-paced and so much plain fun to read that I barely noticed it at first reading.
Considering its straightforward plot and characterization, Stormlord Rising contains a disproportionately large number of characters that are involved in or are the victim of sexual violence and sexual manipulation. I won’t list examples here, but so many of the characters are at some point either victim or perpetrator (or both) of rape, are threatened with forced prostitution, or use sex to manipulate people, that the plot device unfortunately begins to lose some of its impact. Characters casually say things like “You can avail yourself of her reluctant services if you like. […] The bitch bit me, though, so be careful.”
Even if I occasionally groaned at some corny dialogue and predictable plot twists, it was exciting to revisit the Quartern in Stormlord Rising. The setting is still fascinating, and the theme of water conservation remains relevant. Despite a few slow spots and some repetition, the novel is otherwise fast-paced. We also learn more about the mysterious Watergivers and the history of the land, which, together with the novel’s action-packed plot, kept me interested enough to finish this second part of the WATERGIVERS trilogy and left me looking forward to finding out how the story ends in Stormlord’s Exile.
Watergivers — (2010-2011) Publisher: Shale is the lowest of the low-an outcast from a poor village in the heart of the desert. In the desert water is life, and currency, and Shale has none. But he has a secret. It’s the one thing that keeps him alive and may save all the cities of the Quartern in the days to come. If it doesn’t get him killed first… Terelle is a slave fleeing a life as a courtesan. She finds shelter in the home of an elderly painter but as she learns the strange and powerful secrets of his art she fears she may have traded a life of servitude for something far more perilous… The Stormlord is dying in his tower and there is no one, by accident or design, to take his place. He brings the rain from the distant seas to his people. Without a Stormlord, the cities of the Quartern will wither and die. Their civilization is at the brink of disaster. If Shale and Terelle can find a way to save themselves, they may just save them all. Water is life and the wells are running dry…