Chasers of the Wind, by Alexey Pehov

Publisher: Tor Books
Publication date: June 17th 2014
Pages: 400
ISBN: 9780765334893


Centuries after the disastrous War of the Necromancers, the Nabatorians, aligned with the evil necromancers of Sdis, mount an invasion of the Empire. Luk, a soldier, and Ga-Nor, a Northern barbarian, are thrown together as they attempt to escape the Nabatorian hordes and find their way back to their comrades.
Gray and Layan are a married couple, master thieves who are hiding out and trying to escape their former gang. They hope to evade the bounty hunters that hound them and retire to a faraway land in peace.
Tia is a powerful dark sorceress and one of The Damned—a group trying to take over the world and using the Nabatorian invasion as a diversion.
Unfortunately, for Gray and Layan, they unwittingly hold the key to a powerful magical weapon that could bring The Damned back to power.
Hounded by the killers on their trail and by the fearsome creatures sent by The Damned, Gray and Layan are aided by Luk and Ga-Nor—and Harold, the hero of The Chronicles of Siala. Realizing what’s at stake they decide that, against all odds, they must stop The Damned.
Chasers of the Wind is the first book in a new series from internationally bestselling author Alexey Pehov.


I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review.

Chasers of the Wind has all the elements for a high fantasy book: magic and magical creatures, a panoply of races and species, action and mystery. And yet, I couldn't shake off the feeling that I was reading a Dungeons and Dragons inspired story. Now don't take me wrong, I love tabletop RPGs with a passion. It may be silly for outsiders - adults acting like sword bearers and magic wielders, breathing everything as if their character was a living part of their lives -, but that's the thing. The secret for it to work lies in making you forget you're playing pretend and to believe you're living the story. This novel did not manage to do that. If anything, I kept expecting an interruption from the game master telling everyone to take down damage points and roll their d20s. It only felt less like an RPG by the end of the book, which, coincidentally, was when I started to care for the characters.

And why do I say that? First of all, there's the fact that the language itself is not one to weep tears of joy over. Possibly because this is a translated book and many of the phrasings felt chunky. Then there's the excess of notes between brackets to explain what this drink or that place is (I don't know if this came with or without the translation), and the PoV changes from third to first person when Gray was in focus, which, quite frankly, annoyed me as they happened mid-chapter quite often.

Speaking of Gray, our fugitive assassin, there's something else that lacked realism. Gray and Weasel, or Ness and Layen, have been wedded for many a year. He has seen her do magic multiple times, and knows that there is something unnatural about her Gift and that she is hiding much about her past. Yet, it's not until this adventure of theirs starts that he asks questions. What's more, he still believes in many lies the populace spread about Layen's kind. One would think they had had enough time to dispel such falsehoods from his mind, even without spilling all her secrets.

It's not, however, a bad novel. The worldbuilding was carefully planned, and it is clear that the conflict that plays as backdrop to the story (a centuries long war between Nabatorians and the Empire) is no idle threat and has been going on for as long as it was mentioned. Intrigue is something else that this book does not lack. If this was not the first book in a series, I would be enraged at how many questions were left unanswered. The cliffhanger did not help there either.

The different forms of magic were interesting as well. I wish more of it had been explained during the course of the book. Having the Damned, six sorcerers of enormous power and age, sporting names of diseases definitely sparked my interest. If that is not a hint to something grand happening, I do not know what it is.

In the end, Chasers of the Wind is an good take on the high fantasy genre with beautifully written relationships and solid worldbuilding. It would just require a better translation. Oh, and of course, more female characters. Those that existed may have been well rounded, but they were far too few when compared to the number of men. A little boost there would be brilliant. As would some more of Luk and Shen, but the need of their presence is for the author to decide. Now let's see where the second book takes us.

The book in a quote

"I call people like you 'chasers of the wind.' You chase after it blindly, but what will you do once you find it? Not one of you thinks about where that search will lead you. You may find something completely different than what you are looking for and, instead of catching the wind, you'll get lost in the storm. Are you ready to meet it face to face?"