Storm Rising (Book of the Wars #1) – Ronie Kendig

Storm Rising Ronie Kendig jo
Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig
Also by this author: Storm Rising, Kings Falling, Dawn of Vengeance, Brand of Light, Kings Falling, Soul Raging
Published by Bethany House on July 2, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Thriller
Buy on Amazon

Once lost to history, the Book of the Wars has resurfaced, and its pages hold ancient secrets and dangers. Former Navy SEAL Leif Metcalfe has been tasked with capturing the ancient text, but a Bulgarian operative snatches it, determined to secure her freedom. When a series of strange storms erupt, they must form an alliance to thwart impending disaster.

Ronie Kendig has long self-styled her thrillers as Rapid-Fire Fiction and, whatever else Storm Rising and the rest of The Book of the Wars series is or isn’t, rapid-fire is definitely a good description. Kendig drops readers into a fully-fleshed out story and takes off at full speed, leaving us to do our best to catch up. Occasional lulls in the action provide need space for rest, exposition, and a brain break (for ourselves and the characters) before the next high-intensity action sequence.

That pacing, along with Kendig’s complex narrative is both her highlight and downfall. We see pacing like this all the time in our favorite action thrillers. You have to suspend some disbelief. You have to accept some plot points uncritically. It’s a thrilling, pulse-pounding ride, but if you slow down too much or look too hard, you begin to see the missing bolts, the loose pieces, and the unanswered questions. It’s something we more easily look over in movie form because movie-watching is a passive enterprise. Reading is active. It requires a bit more thought, a bit more depth, because the reader is partnering with the author in enfleshing the novel within their imagination. So, on one hand, it’s Kendig’s breathless pacing that keeps readers engaged; on the other, it’s the lack of much else that keeps Storm Rising from being truly outstanding.

Part of this (most of it?) is me. I tend toward character-driven stories. I want to see how the story affects the characters. Kendig makes an attempt at that, giving us some pretty interesting characters with unique backstories, but doesn’t work it out with any sort of depth. For example, Iskra “Viorica” Todorova is an elite spy/assassin under the employ of one pretty bad dude. As the story progresses, we learn that Iskra is actually owned by this man, having been sold to him as a child by her father. Iskra hopes that if she completes this mission, she’ll receive freedom. There’s a lot going on, and for spoiler reasons I’ve left out some details. But all of this is barely explored and ultimately only used primarily for a plot point.

There’re also elements of the story that’s completely over the top. The whole series deals with different groups of people searching for the legendary Book of the Wars, a book mentioned in the biblical book of Numbers. From that verse, Kendig creates a mythology that the book details all wars that will ever happen and their winners. Some want the book to know the future and control the economy. Some want it to circumvent the prophecy. Some want it to bring about Armageddon. And some want it to stop the other groups from their goals. The opening chapter details a heist wherein a few groups are going after the book. Iskra’s team has the ability to control the weather.

It’s actually this weapon that becomes the focus of Storm Rising (oh, I get it now…) and the scrolls sort of go by the wayside. It’s like everything Kendig writes has to be the most extreme. There’s material for at least three novels all in this one book. Streamline the plot and give some depth to what you have, you’re burning through a lot of good story material way too quickly.

In the end, Kendig leaves me intrigued. Storm Rising felt like a bait-and-switch, as the search for the book took on a secondary role. But it’s the first part of a trilogy, so we’ll see where it goes.