Series note: Riot of Storm and Smoke takes place directly after the events of Threats of Sky and Sea; the series should be read in order and this review will contain spoilers for the previous book.
“What next?” Tregle breaks the silence, turning toward me expectantly.
My voice is hoarse. Hollow. “We pray the Makers look on us favorably.”
In truth, I don’t really have a plan. I’d expected Da would be beside me when Aleta and I escaped — there to offer his expertise on the realm, there to fight with me. We have Tregle, but Makers, I wish that we had Da instead.
Aleta’s eyes sharpen on me. “We made it out — and alive. I expect they already are looking on us favorably.”
Bree and her friends have narrowly escaped the castle, but they’re still a long way from safety. As elementals, the King believes their powers should be his to command, and in trying to escape they’ve guaranteed his fury. Not to mention that one of them is the princess of the neighbouring kingdom of Nereidium, whose forced marriage to the prince was supposed to secure Egria’s control of the region. With few allies at home, the group decides to head for Nereidium and hope they can find help there.
This book is a classic fantasy journey, which can often be the boring part of epic series, but there’s plenty going on here to pass the miles. In addition to the king’s furious pursuit, employing all the power of the throne to try and track them down, there’s also a focus on the developing personal dynamics between the fugitives. Bree and Aleta are allies by circumstance, and hardly friends; Aleta and Tregle are mutually attracted but their relationship crosses social class boundaries in a way that causes them to hesitate. And Bree is in love with Prince Caden, who is not only betrothed, but who opts to stay behind and fight the system from within while his friends go on the run.
One of my favourite things about this series is the number of minor, background characters who are women, performing a variety of roles. Occasionally this is remarked upon within the story — when someone makes assumptions that a captain or soldier will be male — but more often than not, it’s left unsaid, in a way that I think is stronger. (It’s sad that this is still notable in modern fiction, but there we go.)
Another enjoyable installment in the series, which leaves everything set up for exciting developments in the next book.