Symphony of the Wind by Steven McKinnon

I picked up Symphony of the Wind because it made the finals of this year’s Self Published Fantasy Blog Off competition. It was one of the frontrunners for a while, and for good reason. Fans of Brandon Sanderson, Brian McClellan, and Brent Weeks will love the unique worldbuilding that blends epic fantasy and steampunk, the frantic fight scenes you can picture with crystal clarity, and the constant conflict that builds to a grand conclusion.

This story follows two main characters:

Serena is a green-haired 16-year-old orphan apprenticed to the Raincatcher Guild. Years after a brutal war was put on pause by what’s essentially an atomic bomb, the dystopian city of Dalthea’s water supply is ruined. The Raincatcher Guild flies airships outside the city to collect what little water they can.

Tyson Gallows is a former soldier struggling with severe PTSD after his time in the war, and he now makes a living as a bounty hunter / monster exterminator. When a prominent city official is assassinated, his path crosses with Serena’s and shit hits the fan.

Much of the plot is a multi-layered mystery. Who are the villains? What do they want? Most of my favorite villainous archetypes are touched upon in Symphony. There’s the evil politician committing heinous crimes for the “greater good,” a mad scientist who doesn’t believe a silly little thing like ethics should get in the way of progress, and a ruthless drug lord overseeing a vast criminal underworld. And these are just some of the colorful antagonists opposing Serena and Tyson.

Tropes from epic fantasy, steampunk, dystopian fiction, and mythology are all combined in exciting ways throughout Symphony. Throw in some romance, coming of age, tragedy, and actual zombies and it’s hard to predict where the story will go next. I’m impressed with the author’s ability to juggle so many different concepts with such satisfying results.

We do get answers to most of the questions raised throughout the book, leaving me with little idea how the story will continue.  I’ll definitely be picking up book 2 when it releases.

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