War Storm ★★★★☆
Genre(s) | Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopian
Goodreads Rating | 4.02
Humpo Show Rating | 4.25
Rise. And rise alone.
Mare has chosen the Scarlet Guard and Cal has chosen his crown. Reeling from Cal’s decision to follow in his father’s footsteps and rule Norta, Mare must draw on all the inner strength she has, to fight for the rights of the Reds and the Newbloods in a world that is fracturing from the Scarlet Guard rebellion and the warring between the Silver Kingdoms. Maven still sits on the Nortan throne alongside his Lakelander Queen, Iris, and they are intent on eradicating the Scarlet Guard, destroying Cal, and bringing the continent under their Silver rule. Mare, Cal, the Silver allies, the Scarlet Guard, and the people of Montfort have to come together to defeat Maven and the Lakelanders, who have brought nothing but war, death and destruction to their people. War is coming, and Mare will try to achieve her mission of bringing equality for the Reds, defeating Maven, and persuading Cal to give up the throne.
Montfort, the faraway democratic country where Red and Silvers live in peace, makes its first appearance. The widely anticipated introduction to the country, its people, and the way of life they have there is felt in full force by everyone, not only the Reds and Newbloods that wish to live in a country where they are equal to Silvers, but also some Silvers, especially Evangeline. The country is on full display, and it gives us a glimmer of what post-war Norta could be like if Montfort and the Scarlet Guard get their way, and if Cal decides to turn his back on the crown. Plenty of ifs though…and a war to win!
Evangeline’s POV gives the readers some insight into her disillusionment with her family’s demands of her, and the effects her position has on her relationship with her true love, Elane. These two points come to the fore throughout all of her chapters, and this will lead to an internal confrontation of her heart as she agonises over whether to choose between family loyalty or love. She is but one of the strong female characters that Aveyard gives a prominent voice in War Storm, the other characters that get a POV are Iris and of course, Mare Barrow, our lightning girl.
Iris is a Lakelander princess who has now become Maven’s Queen of Norta due to an alliance struck by Maven and the late Lakelander King. Her inclusion is important in that she gives a Lakelander perspective which we haven’t had until now, and she also provides an insight into Maven’s kingdom. She has ice-cool nerves despite being married to the disturbed Maven, and she will need them as she tries to end on the winning side of a war that sees the initiative change hands like a hot potato. I felt that Iris’ chapters could have been better, as they came across as bit information-heavy and the focus on her religion had no end-game and it does not have an effect on her motives, actions or the bigger picture.
Aveyard’s development of Mare as a character sparkles in this book, she has come a long way from the thieving girl of the Stilts that divided some fans initially. She has become a strong young woman that has seen her confidence in her ability and in herself soar with each book, but the aspect where she has demonstrated most growth, is the commitment to a cause that is bigger than oneself, and the choices she makes, no matter how hard, she makes them. Mare has been excellently written by Aveyard throughout the Red Queen series, and she remains utterly stubborn, passionate and headstrong. She has faced every challenge with these traits still in tact, even when she has had to withstand Maven’s Silent Stone torture, agonising over her love for Cal, and leaving her family whenever she is called to battle for the Scarlet Guard.
We are treated to a plethora of magnificent and highly-anticipated moments in War Storm:
★ A confrontation between Mare, Cal and Maven.
★ A war between EVERYONE, Norta, Lakelands, Piedmont, Montfort and the Scarlet Guard.
★ A scene between Mare and Maven.
The symbolism of Mare’s and Maven’s scene together has evidently been a subject of much thought for Aveyard as she has intricately formulated the perfect setting for it, a place that has many shared memories for them, and it was also the place where the events began for them, the war, and everything.
The ending will undoubtedly divide fans, as they are all wanting different things for different characters, and would have read other YA Fantasy series that have climaxes that they would have enjoyed before. For me, the ending perfectly summed up the series and what Aveyard has presented in every book, it is Mare’s story, it is her journey from the girl of the Stilts, to a young woman with a mind of her own. War is never cut and dry, just read any history book. Aveyard has ended the series (for now?) in a great moment with a myriad of possibilities (there may be more short stories planned), and I feel she left the continent in a certain way deliberately.
Some of my favourite quotes from War Storm:
★The range of faces, skin every shade, blood both colours, all speaking in shuddering unison. Some raise their fists or weapons or both, but no one is silent. Our voices are so loud I can barely hear my own. “Rise, red as the dawn.”
★ “History favours the underfoot and the oppressed. The years are long, but eventually, always, fortunes shift. The people rise. Such is the way of things. Either let change come willingly, help it along, or face the wrath of such force.”
★ She is so stubbornly alive, still burning like a candle fighting against rain.
To finish, I have to mention the action scenes which I have praised throughout the series. Aveyard really is a master in creating a battle where the setting is crafted so astutely, that I can visualise it vividly. Every battle and action scene is written with a clear destination in mind, and the journey that we go on to get there is a thrilling one with many of the characters, descending from any of the competing factions, get enough page space to showcase their abilities, and to help propel the story on. Harbor Bay is a perfect example of how she has managed to display the Lakelanders’ abilities, and pitted them against Cal and his Silver Allies in such a way, that we feel any of the characters could be killed off at any second…a skill that Aveyard has perfected!
War Storm has lived up to expectations, which were sky high after reading the outstanding King’s Cage, which is up there with Six of Crows within the upper echelons of the YA Fantasy genre. The characters’ agendas are clear, their actions reflect what is in their heart, the action scenes is written by a master, and the storyline is consistent with what has happened thus far, and therefore, the ending is something that we can all understand and believe.