The action in Storm of Arranon begins on the very first page, and doesn’t let up from there, and author R.E. Sheahan delivers an unforgettable and epic story. Readers are instantly plunged into the mayhem of this fantasy universe, which is filled with sinister assassins, merciless conquerors, death warriors, magical allies and more secrets than two worlds can contain.
Erynn Yager, a cadet training to fight for her world, is introduced early on, and she has all the classic signs of a fantasy heroine. As the first book of a trilogy, it is important that Sheahan makes the young protagonist exciting enough to carry an entire series; fortunately, her misunderstood powers and personal peculiarities provide all the intrigue readers need.
Having to hide in plain sight is difficult for anyone that is considered “different,” but for Erynn, her very life is forbidden, due to the circumstances of her birth. Being the daughter of the Commanding General also doesn’t help her maintain a low profile. She has always felt like an outsider, and her internal narrative, which is occasionally included in the writing, reinforces this idea. The plot speeds up after she meets the leaders of Arranon – the sister world to where she lives, Korin – and once she demonstrates her nascent powers to them, it is clear that her life will never be the same.
After being held hostage by an assassin and crash landing on Arranon, she is forced to navigate a treacherous and unknown world, using her burgeoning powers when she needs to, and allying with Jaer, a handsome warrior with his own secrets to keep. This is a classic Bildungsroman-style fantasy, where a young hero must master her mysterious abilities in order to fulfill her destiny and save the world as she knows it. Finding a bit of romance and personal growth along the way adds spice and uncertainty to the tale – while this may sound hackneyed or rehashed as a basic plot premise, there are many other unique moments and complexities of the novel that help make it rise above any familiar plot devices.
The author may have tried to force too much into a single book, however, as the plot does seem quite dense at times, but this first installation of the series is certainly exciting and complex. The prose is strong, as are the descriptions and world building, but the dialogue is clumsy in places, particularly when Erynn is speaking to older or more authoritative characters. Some of the conversations seem too overworked, meticulous and clever in one instant, but then plot-driving and awkward in the next. Smoothing out the interactions between characters would improve the book, and should be considered for the author’s future works.
Overall, the book is a wealth of creativity and exposes readers to an electric new world in the fantasy genre. The detailed portrait that Sheahan paints of Arranon, and the growing mystery surrounding Erynn’s destiny and the fate of her two worlds, is definitely enough to keep readers pushing through the next two installments. Hopefully, once the author becomes more comfortable within this world of Arranon, the characters will come across more naturally.
This novel is the foundation for an excellent series that definitely stands out in the genre, and will appeal to a broad range of readers, from YA enthusiasts to veteran fantasy fans.