I am going to begin the year with a book that is not written by an indie author, but is a debut novel of great promise. Published in 2011, Winds of Khalakovo is an adventure from page one until the very last word. I expect to read great things from the pen of Bradley P. Beaulieu in the future.
Khalakovo, a group of seven mountainous islands is center of trade and is serviced by amazing windships. Khalakovo stands at the crossroads of trade, making them prominent as a world power. Unfortunately, conflict exists between the ruling people, the Landed, and two other cultures, the Aramahn who are indigenous and the Maharraht, a strange, fanatical sect. Making matters worse, a terrible wasting disease has become epidemic.
A meeting of the nine Dukes is planned, but an elemental spirit attacks the windship carrying the Grand Duke, murdering him and all his retinue.
The heir to the scepter of Khalakovo is sent to discover the child who is believed to have performed the summoning, and discovers that the boy is an autistic savant. More importantly, Nikandr believes he holds the key to lifting the blight.
Nikandr suffers from the wasting disease, and the only known possible cure is both illegal and disgusting. He cares about one woman, but is to be married to another for political reasons. He is not sure how he feels about his intended bride. He knows much intigue goes on in his society, but he knows nothing of what swirls around him, or of what the people he loves are really up to. Still, he trusts few people, and he keeps many secrets of his own. The way Nikandr handles the various situations he finds himself in is real and honest, and I really liked the way he is written.
Revenge, magic, love, political intrigue and great plot twists – this book has it all. The scenes are beautifully imagined, and the characters have been given a breath and life that makes them believable. I especially enjoyed the smoothness of the narrative, and found myself reading the book to the exclusion of everything else!
It is not cheap – even the kindle download is $7.99. But every now and then I will splurge and buy a download that costs a bit more and I am glad I did. The New Year weekend was well spent reading this book. I give it four and a half stars!