I blame Glenda Larke

I had a dreadful headache all day yesterday, and I blame Glenda Larke.

Late last week I heard her new book, The Last Stormlord, was available at my local sff bookshop. I’ve been hanging out to read this one, so “visit to Infinitas” went on the to-do list for Monday.

Unfortunately for my head, I then discovered on her blog that the whole book was up on the Voyager website for a couple of weeks. (And what is up with that? Publishers giving away the whole book for free? Which universe is this again?)

So I thought I’d take a little peek. Cue hollow laughter. I ended up staying up till crazy stupid o’clock on Sunday night reading the damn thing onscreen in teeny tiny print. Despite knowing that I would have the actual real live book in my hands the next day. Despite knowing I had to get up early. Despite the fact that my eyeballs shrivelled up and fell out of my head. I just groped under the table, picked the dog hairs off and stuck them back into their bleeding sockets.

Note to Publisher: Do not offer Gigantic Whole Novels on your website. I don’t care what your marketing gurus told you, it is not good business to make readers’ eyeballs fall out of their heads. Not much chance of people buying your product, is there, if they can no longer read.

So Voyager must share part of the blame for the monumental headache I endured yesterday. But most of it is Glenda’s fault, of course, since if she hadn’t written such a good book I might have been able to resist the lure of just one more chapter.

I imagine Glenda might point out that people who have reached my age ought to be aware that staying up reading half the night will give you a headache. And if they persist in such foolish behaviour they deserve everything they get.

Much as it pains me to disagree with one of my idols, I would have to reply that people who commit reckless acts of Awesome World-building must in turn be aware that their actions are extremely dangerous to the reading populace. Books such as The Last Stormlord should come with a warning not to operate heavy machinery after reading. I was a write-off on Monday, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the story, couldn’t wait to get back to reading it.

The story is set in the desert world of the Quartern, where rain no longer falls randomly, but is summoned and distributed by stormlords. Water’s scarcity informs the whole society, and Glenda brings this alien world to life with amazing skill, from its marvellous wildlife to the rigid hierarchies of the cities.

Through a series of misfortunes, the number of stormlords has dwindled till now there is only one, and he is rapidly failing. The search is on for a new stormlord to prevent the total breakdown of society. But no one is as they seem, as the book’s two main characters, Shale, a water-sensitive boy from the lowest caste and Terelle, a girl struggling to escape a future of prostitution, soon discover. And maybe all those stormlords didn’t die by accident …

Quick! Run to your nearest bookshop and buy it. Don’t start reading it on screen, thinking you will be able to stop reading and go to bed at a reasonable hour. Trust me, you are not that strong. That way lies the Headache from Hell.

This is a seriously good book. Can’t wait for the next one! But please, Voyager, don’t make it available on your website. My eyeballs will thank you.

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