It’s Book Review Wednesday, and today I’m going back to my roots with a fantasy novel that feels like something with a bit more of an “old school” feel. The flavors of sword and sorcery are always a treat for me!
Cloak of the Two Winds
Pirates, sorcerers, and witches battle for an ancient magical treasure
To the Iruk people of the South Polar Sea, the crew of a hunting boat is sacred—a band of men and women warriors bound by oath and a group soul. But when Lonn leads his crew away from the hunt to pursue his dream of a treasure ship, they find more than an easy bit of piracy.
The ship belongs to the witch Amlina, and after the Iruks carry off her possessions, they are robbed in turn. Worse, one of their band is also taken—Glyssa, the woman Lonn loves.
To rescue her, the Iruks must join forces with Amlina on a perilous voyage far from the seas they know. To Lonn and his mates, nothing matters but saving Glyssa. But Amlina knows much more is at stake. Among her possessions is an object of ancient power. In the wrong hands, the Cloak of the Two Winds can unravel the age-old magic that keeps the world from chaos.
My Review: 4 Stars
I was given this book in exchange for an honest review, and I must say that I found it a well-crafted story with interesting, well-developed characters. I LOVED the “Inuit” flavor of the protagonists, as it was something rarely seen in other novels. Everything from their long-distance ice-skating to their ice boats was original and enjoyable.
If I liked the book so much, why did I give it four stars? I had to dock a star because I had a hard time reading it. The book didn’t draw me in and hold me spellbound. It was a well-written story, but I had to force myself to keep reading through to the end.
However, I have to say that it was an interesting book that is worth the read. With the fresh take on fantasy worlds and the old school “sword and sorcery” feel, it was a book I’d highly recommend.
Here’s a Taste:
The freezewind had blown in the morning, changing the sea to ice. Under an overcast sky the ice stretched in all directions, gleaming with a light of its own—a pearly light born of witchery. So all the seas had gleamed for an age on the world of Glimnodd.
Two of the Iruks had climbed from the hunting boat and were skating around on the ice. Two others could be seen on board the open, forty-foot craft, at the helm and atop the mast. The Iruks wore garments of deerskin and fur, with leather harnesses and hooded capes. Curved hunting swords and long knives hung at their sides. The skaters moved on ivory blades cunningly strapped to their sea boots.
Leaning on the massive bone tiller, the one called Lonn glanced at the two skaters from time to time. Otherwise his squinting gaze stayed fixed on the north, where a low dark ridge marked the Cape of Dekyll, the only visible land in all the bright emptiness of ice and sky. The Iruks had been lying off the cape for two days now, waiting. They had sailed to this spot because Lonn had dreamed that a merchant ship would pass this way, unarmed and laden with treasure.
“I don’t believe that ship is coming,” Karrol declared. The taller and brawnier of the skaters, she had glided up alongside the stern and stopped, looking pointedly at Lonn.
“I still believe it will,” Lonn said. “Didn’t the freezewind blow this morning? Haven’t I said all along that in my dream we captured this galleon on ice?”
“Yes,” Karrol said, “the freezewind blew this morning. And because we were lying at anchor the boat got frozen in, and it took us half the day to chop free. The freezewind often blows this time of year. That is why Tathian merchants don’t sail in this season. Their galleons are slow and too easily caught in the ice.”
Lonn made no answer, but continued staring toward the Cape of Dekyll. He was starting to regret convincing the others to follow his dream.
But the dream had seemed so vivid, the opportunity so rare and vast. The Iruk people believed in dreams, especially ones that came during a hunt. And as leader of the klarn, the hunting band, if Lonn had not argued forcefully to follow such a dream…Well, what kind of a leader would he be?
“This is senseless,” Karrol said. “One day we are hunting yulugg with twenty other boats, chasing a good-sized herd. Then Lonn happens to dream of a ship. Now we lie off an empty point of land, alone, and nothing happens. I’d rather Lonn had dreamed of yulugg.”
“Perhaps Lonn will dream of yulugg,” Eben called from the masthead, “when the season comes for hunting ships.”
Karrol snorted, and out on the ice Draven chuckled. Lonn clenched his jaw and glared at the north. He was beginning to wish he haddreamed of yulugg.
There were six in Lonn’s klarn, three women and three men, all of them young, none older than twenty, though all were full-fledged warriors. At the start of the season they had taken a sacred oath, to sail and hunt and fight together, share warmth, food, and shelter. A klarn might last for many years, or it might be ritually dissolved at the end of any hunt. The way things were going, Lonn thought gloomily, he’d be lucky if this crew lasted the season—a sorry outlook indeed for his first voyage as a klarn leader.
Karrol hoisted herself over the rail and sat down heavily in the stern. “I think we should go back to the hunt. I’m going to call a meeting.”
“We’ve had a meeting on this already,” Lonn said.
“Yes.” Karrol was unstrapping her skate blades. “We agreed to come here and wait for the ship. So we’ve waited two days, and the ship hasn’t shown. I say it’s time to reconsider.”
Laying the skates aside, she rose in a graceful movement and stalked toward the forward end of the boat.
Sliding by on the ice, Draven threw out his arms in a shrug, then let them drop, slapping his sides as he showed Lonn an amused smile. Draven never seemed to lose his sense of humor.
Lonn shook his head. Pointlessly, he glanced at the windbringer, a four-foot fern-like creature that stood near him in a bucket of seawater. The windbringer looked back at Lonn through its single green eye. Though capable of understanding and making human speech, windbringers seldom had much to say to people.
Karrol stopped in front of the mast and lifted the flap of a low tent of white and gray hides. “Brinda, Glyssa. Wake up! Eben, come down from there.”
“I can hear you plainly from here,” Eben answered. “And one of us keep lookout, in case Lonn’s dream comes true.”
Brinda and Glyssa had kept the late watch until sunrise, then worked all morning to help chop the boat free of the ice. Still, they scrambled from the tent immediately, tightening loose garments. Their hoods were back, revealing typical Iruk faces—tawny complexions, high cheekbones, slitted eyes accustomed to squinting.
Brinda, lean and muscular, was Karrol’s older sister. “Why did you wake us?” she demanded, looking around sleepily.
“I want to have a meeting.” Karrol said. “To decide if we should stay here or go back and hunt yulugg.”
“You could have waited till we’d finished sleeping,” said Glyssa with irritation. She was smaller, delicate for an Iruk woman.
“We’ve wasted enough time here already,” Karrol said.
“We can hunt yulugg any time,” Glyssa said.
“You can sleep any time,” Karrol answered.
“Not if you keep waking us up!” Glyssa said.
“Your argument just became pointless,” Eben called from above. “The ship of Lonn’s dream is rounding the cape from the east.”
About the Author
Jack Massa grew up in New Jersey and attended college in Florida and Massachusetts, earning an MFA in creative writing. His Master’s thesis was a science fantasy novel, Mooncrow, which was published by Berkley Books in 1979.
Jack spent the next 30 years in Atlanta, Georgia, learning and practicing the magical skills of the digital age. Bits of his fiction and poetry also surfaced from time to time. His science fiction story, “PrayerWare,” was published in the first Bantam Books Full Spectrum Anthology in 1988, and was later selected for a British Best-of-the-Year collection.
In 2013, Jack returned to Florida, where he lives with his magical wife, wonderful son, and a pet orange tree named Grover. He continues to practice technical prestidigitation while also focusing on writing stories.
Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Cloak-Two-Winds-Jack-Massa-ebook/dp/B01GD9X3XC
Connect with Jack on his website: www.triskelionbooks.com
Chat with him on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/AuthorJackMassa/
Tweet at him: @JackMassa2