Hope and Red by Jon Skovron
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two young people from different cultures find common purpose.
A nameless girl is the
lone survivor when her village is massacred by biomancers, mystical
servants of the emperor. Named after her lost village, Bleak Hope is
secretly trained by a master Vinchen warrior as an instrument of
A boy becomes an orphan on the squalid streets of New
Laven and is adopted by one of the most notorious women of the criminal
underworld, given the name Red, and trained as a thief and con artist.
a ganglord named Deadface Drem strikes a bargain with the biomancers to
consolidate and rule all the slums of New Laven, the worlds of Hope and
Red come crashing together, and their unlikely alliance takes them
further than either could have dreamed possible.
Hope and Red is the first book in the Empire of Storms series and I enjoyed it quite a bit. The story is nothing new. Two orphaned children grow up in very different ways. One under the tutelage of a warrior type monk, the other on the streets in a rough part of town. Of course their paths eventually cross and when they do that's when the story really took off for me.
This is a gritty story with some slightly disturbing elements to it. The biomancers were a formidable enemy and I couldn't help but feel rather terrified of them myself. They do run the risk of being too overpowered though. I can't imagine how they will possibly be able to defeat them all. I enjoyed several of the characters, Hope in particular. Red had to grow on me as I found myself annoyed with him during his time as a 16 year old. Besides Hope, I think I ended up liking Alash the most. And although I wouldn't categorize this book as steampunk I really liked the steampunk type element Alash's inventions brought to the story. Also the character Brigga Lin ended up not being at all what I thought, and although I don't particularly like this character too much, the story line was interesting to say the least.
One thing I had a problem with was the crude language and I'm knocking my rating down to 3 stars because of it. I'm just not a fan. The use of a couple of words in particular, one being the C word, not just once but multiple times, bothered me. I just don't want those words in my head. This was probably the only real drawback of the book for me though, so if you don't mind really crude language that is mostly used as slang street talk then you will probably be ok with it.
Because of the way this book ends, I'm interested in reading the next book, Bane and Shadow but I haven't made up my mind whether or not I will read it yet.
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