Audiobook Review: Revenant Winds by Mitchell Hogan
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 3.5 of 5 stars
Series: Book 1 of The Tainted Cabal
Publisher: Audible Studios (September 5, 2017)
Length: 17 hrs and 57 mins
Narrator: Oliver Wyman
Revenant Winds is the first book a new series by Mitchell Hogan, and having been curious about the author’s work for a long time, I leapt at the chance to check it out. After hearing the accolades for his Sorcerer’s Ascendant Sequence, I had very high hopes for this novel and I was also drawn to the promise of an epic fantasy that dabbles in ancient demons and curses, unlikely heroes, and secret cabals.
Long ago in the world of this novel, demons roamed wild, menacing the populations that once eked out an existence in this harsh, cruel place. The lore contains tales of devastating cataclysms that scoured the land, leaving mysterious ruins full of treasures and secrets. Now much of the history is forgotten, and accounts of demonic creatures and ancient beings of the elder races have entered into myth. Sorcery is not completely understood, and those who possess magic are either said to be gifted by the gods or cursed by them. When an individual comes into his or her talent though, they are often bound into a covenant with one of the many religions, with the different groups all locked in a constant struggle against each other for dominance.
True to form, our story features many characters, but the three that receives the most attention are Aldric, a priest who possesses the magical power of healing; Niklaus, an expert swordsman and mercenary; and Kurio, a former noble daughter turned master thief. Their three disparate lives converge as Niklaus, enslaved to his goddess the Lady Sylva Kalisia, is on a mission to become a god himself so he can serve by her side forever. Meanwhile, Kurio has stumbled upon something she shouldn’t have during her latest heist job, landing her in a deadly situation that she can scarcely comprehend. And finally, a devout follower of his god who is nonetheless shunned by most of his church because of his sorcery, Aldric is given a special assignment that will bring them all together in a confrontation against an emergent evil long thought defeated.
I’ll admit, it took me a while to get into Revenant Winds, because to me the plot did not pick up until about halfway through when the quest-driven part of the story truly started. Later, I learned that apparently this is par for the course when it comes to Mitchell Hogan’s novels, in that they mostly tend to begin as slow-burners until the momentum kicks in and then builds rapidly. Had I know this, my experience might have been a little different, but some patience is definitely required for the first half in which was mostly taken up by character development and establishing a background for the main story. There’s more of this than you generally find, even in a genre known for lengthy page counts and long intros, though on the upside, readers get to start off on the right foot with a good handle on the world and our key players once the real adventure starts.
More good news is that the second half of the novel makes up for any pacing issues in the first half. Once the main conflict was revealed, things moved fast! It’s almost enough to make me forget about the rough start, as Aldric, Niklaus and Kurio are joined by others, filling in the rest of this fascinating cast. Sorcerous rivalries, daring escapes, and heart-pounding battles against monsters can all be found in this exciting section leading up to the stunning climax and conclusion. There’s also passion amidst the violence as characters form bonds loyalty and love as they travel together, though of course the threat of betrayal is ever present. When you realize that no one is truly safe, that’s when all the character development in the first half of the book makes sense—Hogan has drawn you deep into his tale so now that you are whole-heartedly invested in the people involved, and every single loss feels like a punch in the gut. Furthermore, when he starts writing the action, that’s when his prose really shines, painting the scene with dark designs and gritty detail.
Overall, despite the slow start, I grew to enjoy the epic journey that was Revenant Winds and I’m very happy with my first experience with Mitchell Hogan’s work. While the story took some time to get established, in the end the patience invested was worth it, and I’m looking forward to the continuation of the series.
Audiobook Comments: Fantasy fiction and audiobook fans will probably be familiar with Oliver Wyman, with the impressive number of audiobook narration credits he has under his belt. He rocked the reading of Revenant Winds, as I expected he would, and did a great job brining the story and the characters to life. He has a good voice for this genre, perfectly conveying the mood and atmosphere of an epic fantasy.