Title: Wind Rider
Author: Patrick Bran
Series: Prophets of the Smoke #1
Genre: YA, fantasy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Blurb: (via Goodreads)
The people on the Great Canyon’s floor live a simple life. They have little to fear save for the falling debris that comes with the tremors. For this reason most stay clear of the daunting cliffs. Most never even look up and wonder what lies beyond them. Dareth is different.
When an earthquake threatens the life of his mother, Dareth must follow the advice of a mad hermit and brave the cliffs to find help from outside. He seeks the aid of the mysterious Wind Riders who sail the updrafts over a vast network of fissures, which crisscross the cracked and broken land. The Wind Riders hold the secret to the future. If Dareth can handle the depths of the fissures and the red smoke that carries visions up from the bowels of the earth, he could do more than save his mother’s life. He could get a lesson in the meaning of destiny.
Not all would see Dareth succeed in his task. The future revealed by the smoke is hazy. Dareth’s face hovers in the forefront. Whether the omen portends good or ill is an argument some might kill to win.
So, first let me start of by saying that Patrick contacted me asking about another book I had blogged about and asking for some advice as to whether or not he should read it. Major bonus points and totally made my day. Of course, this could have all been a clever plan to butter me up before asking if I would review his book. It shouldn’t come as a surprise when I said I would.
Lets start off with what I loved the most about the book: the characters. I absolutely loved the characters in this book! Although Dareth was basically infallible and didn’t really develop as much as I would have liked, I am going to cut the author a break because Wind Rider IS the first book of the Prophets of the Smoke series. A certain amount of leeway can be given here. Saying that, I still loved Dareth’s character. I loved his story, and discovering who he really was, and slowly learning the role he was being set up for in the rest of the series. I loved the “hermit”, who I think was the real star of the novel. He changed and developed so much, and his parts were always so interesting. I was never mad when the plot line briefly stopped to look back at what was going on with him back home. He was my favorite character hands down.
The plot was my second favorite part of the story. In my opinion, it was pretty original. I personally had not read anything like it before and I found myself at a loss when it came to guess what would happen next plot wise. I have this little cork when I read a good book. I am extremely empathetic when it comes to stories (I have to fast forward through parts of movies when the main character goes through something embarrassing), so when a book is fast paced and thrilling, and I am at the edge of my seat, I have to get up. Literally. I have to put the book down and walk off some of that excitement. Don’t judge. Anyways, I found myself getting up pretty frequently while reading this book. Patrick Bran created a bunch of pieces, and he slowly put them together to create such a creative and interesting world. I was impressed.
Now for the parts that I didn’t really like: the first four or five chapters of the book where pretty slow. It was a lot of travelling and description and, I don’t know, it just wasn’t catching my attention. I had serious doubts about the book getting into it, but I am glad I stuck through it. I promise, it did get better. The second aspect I wasn’t particularly fond of was the lack of romance for the main character. The author introduces us to a possibility of romance at the beginning, but that is quickly squashed early in the novel. In fact, I didn’t find any particular use for Kadnee (the brief romantic interest). If you took her out of the book, it wouldn’t have affected much. I do hope to see some hope of a love interest in the second book however. Considering how badass Dareth is, I can’t see him not catching the eyes of the ladies.
The last thing I had a problem with, and the thing I had the biggest problem with, was the lack of character development in the story. The hermit had some development and Versi had some development at the end there, but overall, the characters stayed pretty true to who they were at the beginning of the novel. While Dareth learns about this whole new world outside of his Canyon, and yes that knowledge (and the red smoke) do change his views of the world, but who he was made out to be at the most fundamental level remained the same. I truly hope that we get to see more development in the next installment of the series.
Despite it’s shortcomings, Wind Rider was still a great read. It was something different, and new, and had tons of twists and turns to keep your brain distracted from the fact that the characters weren’t developing all that much. If you liked learning about Icarus, the boy who flew too close to the sun, back in your Greek Mythology lessons, you might get a kick out of this. You get to see people who learn to fly with the help of man-made wings, crazy visions that can drive you mad, some badass red smoke that has a secret badass origin, and a badass main character who kicks major… well ass. There is a lot of badassery in the book! I say it is definitely worth the try if you can get past the first few chapters!