Book Review: WE RIDE THE STORM by Devin Madson

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 3 stars
Series: yes - first book


War built the Kisian Empire. War will tear it down.

Seventeen years after rebels stormed the streets, factions divide Kisia. Only the firm hand of the god-emperor holds the empire together. But when a shocking betrayal destroys a tense alliance with neighbouring Chiltae, all that has been won comes crashing down.

In Kisia, Princess Miko Ts’ai is a prisoner in her own castle. She dreams of claiming her empire, but the path to power could rip it, and her family, asunder.

In Chiltae, assassin Cassandra Marius is plagued by the voices of the dead. Desperate, she accepts a contract that promises to reward her with a cure if she helps an empire fall.

And on the border between nations, Captain Rah e’Torin and his warriors are exiles forced to fight in a foreign war or die.

As an empire dies, three warriors will rise. They will have to ride the storm or drown in its blood.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


WE RIDE THE STORM is the latest in a series of originally self-published books that have been picked up by publishers, re-edited, and then re-released.

I think it’s technically (grim)dark fantasy? (I’m going by goodreads here), but honestly, there was a lot more hope than I tend to associate with the sub-genre. It’s certainly a sprawling epic fantasy of empires at war set in an Asian-inspired world.

There are a lot of threads to the story, told through three POVs – Miko, Cassandra, and Rah. Miko, given hers was the politics thread, was my favourite as she tries to survive and thrive in a vicious court. I loved watching her scheme from the throne, particularly once she overtly picked a side and went all in during the second half. Honestly, I could have read the entire book about her and at points thought that might have been more interesting.

I’m not completely sure what Cassandra added to the story as she didn’t really advance the overall plot by very much – just made the matter of the character Leo all the more confusing. I have no idea really who he is, and what he’s doing – and most of that is to do with her POV. While Rah’s chapters were interesting look at the external threat facing Miko so it’s less nebulous, it did take a while for it to match up with hers – and the big “oh, this is why the POV is here” moment came in the last chapter.

The ending was a little disappointing. I know it’s the start of a series (I’m not sure if it is a trilogy or a quartet), but it didn’t feel like a particularly thematic end, particularly as it ended on Rah’s chapter, and he’d made the least progress towards his goals of the three. Cassandra had, technically, got what she wanted, and Miko had most obviously, but there still was very much the feeling of satisfaction over where they were verses where they had been at the start. Meanwhile, Rah was practically in the same place, so it did feel like an odd place to end.

This all said, I am interested to see where the series goes in the next instalments – two out next year. I think I might wait until they’re both out and binge them in one go.

Read my reviews of other books by Devin Madson:

The Reborn Empire (this series):

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