A Storm of Smoke and Flame (The Oncoming Storm #3) by Marion Blackwood
What would you do to protect your home? Lie? Manipulate? Kill? War awaits across the sea. In order to ensure their survival, the Oncoming Storm and a band of misfits set sail for the land beyond the horizon. In a country where the power structure is as strange as the language, their desperate mission to secure a lasting peace will take them on a journey through halls of power and dark back alleys alike. Trusting the wrong person could get them all killed, but without help from the locals they have no chance of succeeding. They can only hope that they have placed their faith in the right people. In addition to the constant outside threats, tensions also run high within the group. Working together turns out to be far harder than anticipated, and cracks form in the bonds between them as personalities clash and weapons are drawn. Relationships will be tested and strained to the breaking point when a surprise betrayal forces secrets long buried into the light. The deck is stacked against them and hidden threats lurk around every corner. Can they accomplish their mission despite the overwhelming odds? Or will they end up killing each other instead?
The Pernulans might have left Keutunan, but the danger they pose is far from over. General Marcellus and what remains of his crew were sent back to their home country across the sea, but King Edward, Shade, and Storm know that a war between the two countries is brewing. And what’s the best way to disrupt a potential war? Infiltrate the enemy country, of course!
This third installment of Marion Blackwood’s The Oncoming Storm series raises the stakes (again) and pushes her worldbuilding to greater heights. Readers are introduced to an entirely new city - which has parallels to Keutunan - and some new Pernish characters. Right off the bat Blackwood sets the stage for “otherness:” how two countries can have different customs, beliefs, and ways of operating. As different as the two are, however, they manage to find and unite over a common cause.
Not only does the world expand, but Blackwood’s characters all grow during this latest book. Whether it’s learning about themselves, taking on new responsibilities, or finding where they belong, the cast she’s introduced readers to continues to grow in both number and interpersonal complexity. (And I’m still #TeamOncomingShade.)
The book concludes with Blackwood leaving the door wide open to a range of possible futures for Storm and her companions, and I’m very much looking forward to her next installment.
To learn more about Marion Blackwood and her Oncoming Storm series, check out her website here.