I initially bought Master of Whitestorm because I’m trying to read more female fantasy authors, and on r/fantasy Janny Wurts came highly recommended. Rather than jump into a series, I decided to try one of her standalones first. Coincidentally, this book also qualifies for the r/fantasy Underrated square, so that’s two birds caught with one stone!
Korendir, Master of Whitestorm, is no ordinary man. Enslaved by the Murghai as a boy, now grown into a man he frees himself and Haldeth, his partner on the oars of the slave ship. But if Haldeth thinks Korendir will live out his days in relative safety, peace and freedom, he is sorely mistaken. For Korendir has other plans.
This book is basically a character study of the mercenary Korendir, and what drives him to attempt and – usually – achieve great and nigh impossible feats of bravery. Is it greed? He is a mercenary for hire, and he takes no pleasure in gratitude, only coin. But the coin is not his end goal; it’s a means to an end. What he truly wants is a fortress, an impregnable one, and a magical stone to ward it from dangers tangible and intangible.
What ultimately drives Korendir to attempt to release lands from curses laid upon them, to save a tortured princess, to protect a little baby boy, to battle were-leopards, weather elementals, demons and monsters of nightmare in the end is revealed to be something almost unexpected. Because as a reader you’re never in his head, you only have his interactions with others, other people’s speculations of his motives and whatever Korendir himself shares (which is very little) to base your own theories on.
His past, and the parts of his past he has no knowledge about, is interesting; to say the least. The future he wants for himself is beautiful, and the way he always strives to do the right thing, whether it kills him or not, is what makes Korendir into a man you can’t help but root for, even though you might not always understand why he does what he does and the way he does it.
The book itself isn’t a big door stopper, but so many things happen within so little pages! The writing is simple but vivid, and made me think long and hard about my own writing and how I might also evoke such sympathy for my own created characters. I look forward to reading more of Janny Wurts’ works!