Barbara Ann Wright, Paladins of the Storm Lord. Bold Strokes Books, 2016.
I was extremely disappointed in Wright’s last outing, Thrall: Beyond Gold and Glory. That novel was, to put it mildly, an incoherent Norse-inspired mess – although better at a sentence level than many f/f fantasy romances in existence. Her first novel, Pyramid Waltz, showed a great deal of promise, and I will confess to Some Hopes of her continuing career: but structurally the later novels of her first series (For Want of a Fiend, A Kingdom Lost, The Fiend Queen) really didn’t stand up well.
However, Paladins of the Storm Lord marks the beginning of a new series from Wright. This novel shows something of an improvement, both structurally and in terms of worldbuilding. It mixes elements from fantasy and science fiction into a planetary opera a bit reminiscent of Darkover (without the faux-medieval sexism), with small-town politics and fights and interspecies romance. It’s fun and fast and entertaining: promising, in the best SF-equivalent-of-sword-and-sorcery way.
I’m really hoping that she manages to actually structure the rest of this series so that the narrative pays off in satisfying ways.