Taleura of Decardin may no longer be considered a Cloudwalker, but her power isn’t diminished in the least by the removal of the appellation. Though she appears as a scantily-clad beauty, the White Hand is a bad-ass, make no mistake. The Council of Elders has forced a partnership between her and Mikel, her sworn enemy, but she remains suspicious of their true intentions. A tempest arises and with it an adversary that threatens to put an end to their tenuous alliance, one way or another. If they survive, Taleura might just get an answer to her question, and a revelation that blows her away.
As a writer, part of the reason I write is because the stories I want to read don’t exist. The White Hand goes a long way toward satisfying that need. Taleura is just enough antagonist mixed with protagonist to make her jump right off the page. I want her to win, but I don’t know what she’ll do if she does. Though Mikel is her enemy, he’s got enough good guy in him to give me pause. I’m torn between these two, but ultimately in her corner. To have caused such exquisite angst within a reader is a feat not easily accomplished, though J. Edward Paul seems to have done so effortlessly.
I’ve had the pleasure of reading the bonus story, The Trial of Tzithara. I would say it’s a classic coming of age tale, except there’s nothing typical about it. Tzithara must face an incredible adversary, the odds stacked high against her, if she hopes to join the ranks of Cloudwalkers. Her trial is real, her task nearly impossible, but if she survives she’ll gain much more than just a title. There’s a depth of character here that isn’t often found in a short story. Many writers use a lot of words to convey a little information, but Paul does the opposite. That is, in my opinion, what makes a writer great. With The Trial of Tzithara, he shows that he doesn’t need a novel’s worth of words to move you. Tzithara is a character that stays with you long after you’ve read her story.
These two Cloudwalker stories are only the beginning of something incredible.
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