A Fantasy Reader takes on Winds

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In a day apparently filled with reviews, there comes another. Phil over at A Fantasy Reader has just posted his review of The Winds of Khalakovo. Phil has an interesting grading style that I’ve not seen before, which gives the reader a decent idea of how well (or not) various aspects of the book worked, such as worldbuilding, characterization, the magic system, etc.

Here’s an excerpt from the review:

Other elements in the book catch the eye rapidly, right off when you look at the cover.  The windships are a great idea, formed from windwood, piloted by Aramahns connected to wind spirits and driven in aether ‘currents’.  Their complexity was probably not easy to put to words and above all, they create mythic battle scenes, which were somewhat hard to imagine.  Recreating fighting in the air with ships was risky, potentially entertaining but mostly confounding.

The battles involving the ‘elementals’ (hezhan), are less evasive.  Although the hezhan have difficult names to follow and are based on the usual elements (air, fire, water, earth, spirit), they bring more dimension to the tale.  Along with a couple of more magical concepts like the kind of soul-stones, it all makes up for many fantastical features. The world feels richer for it but the story is also encumbered. This approach makes me think of Brandon Sanderson or Brent Weeks. Some portions of the book are defined by this instead of being enriched by it.

The author’s writing is smooth, slightly polished with a slow cadence.  Usually, the chapters are short, creating a great rhythm.  Sadly, there’s a weird presence of PoV switches in the middle of the action that make the prose more complicated for nothing. To his credit, I think he wrote an intricate story with several storylines that may not always fit perfectly well together but that are essentially compelling. Dukes are fighting for power, the world in on the verge of complete destruction, love is blossoming and everyone wants to play his part in it. I’ll definitely read the follow-up, The Straits of Galahesh.

You can read the full review at A Fantasy Reader.


  1. Steve Hick

    December 2, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I agree with the second reviewer, in that reading this made me nostalgic for things like The Queen of Spades by Pushkin (actually the older movie -scared the heck out of me, creapy women, wonder what resonated when I read Winds????), Ivan the Terrible (again the movie), Illya Muromets (movie) and also reading Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy etc. Who and what were your influences (that are accessible)? What do you think one should read to get more a background to appreciate the depth.

    Thanks, Steve

    • Brad

      December 2, 2011 at 9:31 pm

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks for the note. I actually didn’t rely on Russian literature to create Winds. My influences were more from fantasy that I’d read, and then really more in terms of the mood and tone of the novels. The three that I would say influenced this trilogy the most are: The Coldfire Trilogy from C.S. Friedman, The Sarantine Mosaic from Guy Gavriel Kay, and The Faded Sun Trilogy from C.J. Cherryh.