Firstly I just want to say that this week I have been rethinking the purpose of this blog, deliberating whether I should start writing more formal reviews that are designed to be read by an actual audience. Currently my 'reviews' are really just a way to document some thoughts I have after I finish a book and are in no way geared towards being anything useful for anyone else.
But then today I thought some more and decided against it - I have quite a full plate with my numerous dance-related projects and I feel that reviews would just become a chore. Plus, I would much rather leave it to the professionals and have my own little happy fun time over here.
I was aided in making this decision by realising that I actually don't have very much to say about The Winds of Khalakovo, and the thought of trying to flesh out a whole review would be akin bamboo shoots under the fingernails.
In short, it was brilliant and I loved it. I think a large part of my personality and my writing is derived from my sarcasm and humour, thereby making reviews about terrible books so much easier. Maybe I should just read bad books?
I struggled in the beginning with this one, as did many others according to Goodreads. Beaulieu has created a complex, gritty tale that is unrelenting when it comes to handing over the crucial details. Beaulieu refuses to explain outright any elements of the complex magic system, or social, political or geographical elements of the story, instead completely allowing them to unfold naturally. This makes the first 50 or so pages quite cumbersome and bereft of any hooks to really get me invested.
Once I finally got my head around this though (and the unfamiliar Russian names), Winds became extremely rewarding and engrossing. The mysterious nature of the aether, the hazhan and the role of Nasim to both the characters and myself as the reader gave a much greater weight and realism to the story. By the end there were a few elements that were still escaping me, and a few things that I felt were a little tenuous in their realisation, such as why Nasim had to go to the island of Ghayavand and what exactly happened there.
I loved every character, particularly Atiana and Rehada - in fact, there were quite a few strong female figures in this one, and who doesn't love an overbearing matriarch?
The use of the Russian language and terms throughout, as well as the inclusion of the visually beautiful airships gave Winds a fresh and unique feel, allowing it to stand apart from more traditional fantasy.
Still deliberating what to read next ... I've started a few series now, so I should probably start reading some sequels!