fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsepic fantasy audiobook reviews Janny Wurts Cycle of Fire 1. StormwardenStormwarden by Janny Wurts

This is a great time to be an audiobook reader! I’ve said often recently that I’m so pleased with Audible Frontiers for bringing us some older fantasy literature on audio, and this month their UK production team released Stormwarden, the first novel of Janny Wurts’ THE CYCLE OF FIRE trilogy which was first published in 1984.

Having greatly enjoyed Wurts’ stand-alone novel To Ride Hell’s Chasm, and knowing how several of my fellow FanLit reviewers feel about her THE WARS OF LIGHT AND SHADOW saga, I’ve been waiting and hoping to find one of her epics on audio. So when Audible Frontiers UK released Stormwarden, I snapped it up within a few hours.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsStormwarden is a coming-of-age story that focuses on three youth (Jaric, Emien, and Taen) who get caught up in a battle between kingdoms, sorcerers, demons, and aliens. There are some now-classic fantasy characters here — scrawny orphan boy who gets a sword, white-bearded sorcerer who controls the weather, a beautiful enchantress with white hair and violet eyes, and a beautiful dreamweaver with black hair. (Someday I want to read about a middle-aged, overweight, brown-eyed sorceress with thin mousy hair… or maybe I don’t.) But these characters are treated with respect by both author and audiobook reader (David Thorpe) who pack them full of vigor, drive, and both admirable and reprehensible character traits and emotions.

There’s plenty of the unexpected, too. For example, much of the story takes place at sea. Also, an alien endows humans with supernatural powers by injecting them with crystallized demons. For a coming-of-age story, the plot is refreshingly unpredictable and Stormwarden ends with an exciting action-packed climax — a trademark Janny Wurts feature. The reader also gets a sense of Wurts’ expertise in sailing, horsemanship, and other outdoor pursuits — all of these elements feel real and this is something that sets this fantasy novel apart from most of its peers.

The narrative style is more expository than is my preference, and sometimes it’s wordy (for example, “cognizant of the fact that…” instead of “knowing…”), but it’s full of passion and David Thorpe’s perfect performance lends enthusiasm and verve, allowing Wurts’ characters to live and to capture our hearts. I look forward to continuing their adventure in Keeper of the Keys, the next novel in THE CYCLE OF FIRE, soon to be released by Audible.

The Cycle of Fire — (1984-1988) Publisher: SUMMON ME, SORCERER, AND KNOW SORROW… Written in the records at Vaere is the tale of the binding of the Mharg-demons by Anskiere, wizard of wind and wave. Anskiere was aided in this task by Ivain, master of fire and earth, for the skills of a single sorcerer were not enough against so formidable a foe. It is further recorded that at the moment of greatest peril, Ivain betrayed his companion out of jealousy. Nonetheless the demons were defeated, the wards sealed, and Anskiere survived to swear a powerful oath against his betrayer. So potent was the magic in the words spoken by Anskiere that sailors who have visited the site claim the winds there repeat them to this day: ‘Your offence against me is pardoned but not forgotten. This geas I lay upon you; should I call, you, Ivain, shall answer, and complete a deed of my choice, even to the end of your days. And should you die, my will shall pass to your eldest son, and to his son’s sons after him, until the debt is paid…’

Janny Wurts, Stormwarden, Keeper of the Keys, Shadowfane, The Cycle of Firefantasy and science fiction book reviews Janny Wurts, Stormwarden, Keeper of the Keys, Shadowfane, The Cycle of Fire


  • Kat Hooper

    KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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