Lynx is an honest man, haunted by the atrocities of his homeland, his past is nicely dark and mysterious. He is misunderstood, viewed with suspicion, and often treated as an enemy even by his mercenary comrades. Lynx is fundamentally good, he just finds getting into trouble very, very easy.
Stranger of Tempest is one of those books that gives you the kind of fantasy yarn that you recognise but rarely in the way you expect. There are magic and monsters and magical weapons, along with action and intrigue and a great mix of characters, but it’s how Lynx’s penchant for doing the right thing throws a spanner in the works that sets this story apart. In a world that’s lawless and corrupt, his honest ways really aren’t particularly helpful.
It’s while the mercenary company that Lynx belongs to is on its way to rescue a noble’s daughter that trouble brews. Sitain, Lynx’s countrywoman and a mage, is being held captive by a small company of fanatical knights. Lynx doesn’t like that. He doesn’t like that at all. He frees Sitain, and by doing so his fellow mercenaries become unwilling participants in the deaths of every knight. This moments sows a seed that complicates what should be a straightforward mission in hideous and glorious ways. Lynx didn’t stop to think that the small company of fanatical knights might be missed by a lot of fanatical friends.
There’s much to admire in this book, but I sort of fell in love with Lynx. He’s a little old and frayed around the edges, and he’s a portly fellow who eats for pleasure. Being something of a food-loving dumpling myself, I appreciate and relate to Lynx. He makes me believe that I can set off with my sword and mage-gun and take on the world while still being allowed to enjoy a pie or two. There’s something down to earth and refreshing about this character, and it’s interesting to see how his colleagues fit in around him.
Stranger of Tempest grips you from the beginning and doesn’t let go until the end. This is Tom Lloyd at his best, and my money is on Stranger being a standout fantasy for 2016. And just look at that cover!