Eye of the Storm, by Frank Cavallo

Eye of the Storm, by Frank Cavallo book coverGenre: Dark Fantasy
Publisher: Dark Serpent/Ravenswood Publishing
Published: 2016
Reviewer Rating: four and a half stars
Reviewer: David L. Felts

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Navy SEAL Eric Slade and anthropologist Dr. Anna Fayne, along with support crew, are on a research mission in Kyrgyzstan. Dr Fayne is hoping to find some scientific basis for the discovery of recent Neanderthal remains, while Slade, the host of a television show that investigates “mysteries”, is looking for a good story to boost his rankings and reputation.

When their helicopter is enveloped by a mysterious storm shot through with black lightening, they learn that it’s more than a storm–it’s a portal to another world. Slade, Fayne and the rest of the crew find themselves struggling for survival in a mysterious world filled with horror and magic and dark technology, not to mention dinosaurs, Neanderthals, ancient civilizations, and even the undead!

Their only chance of returning home is to find the legendary talisman the Eye of the Storm. But while the Eye of the Storm grants the power to open bridges between the different universes, it also grants the power to destroy them. And Slade and Fayne aren’t the only ones seeking it….

I enjoyed Eye of the Storm quite a bit. I was strongly reminded of two other books/series while I read:

  • Dark Crusade, a Kane novel by Karl Edward Wagner, in which Kane leads the army of an evil sorcerer bent on world domination
  • The Runestaff series by Michael Moorcock, to which Eye of the Storm is very similar in it’s mixture of dark magic and even darker technology

From my perspective, these are two pretty good things to be associated with. Add in another of my favorites–people from modern times drawn into fantastic worlds–and now you’re really cooking!

There’s a “new wave” sort of feel here as well, the SF movement of the 60s that Moorcock was part of, one that was an effort to move SF toward a more literary style. There are no clear cut heroes here, only people trying to accomplish their own goals for their own reasons, some good, some not so.  Kerr, the leprous advisor to Neanderthal Queen Threya; Threya herself, heir to the throne, struggling to save her kingdom; Tarquin, a powerful and immortal dark sorcerer, who needs a gem Threya has in her possession; and a strange composite intelligence that wishes nothing more than the destruction of the entire multi-verse.

The result all off of this is Frank Cavallo delivering an enjoyable, entertaining, and epic tale with everything from dark sorcery, to dinosaurs, to Neanderthals, to cyborgs powered by lost technology, all wrapped up in a quest style fantasy tale with enough action and horror to satisfy readers of most flavors of speculative fiction.

Solid characters, solid story, solid writing… it all comes together in a long (~400 pages) but engrossing story. Slade rises above his self-serving TV host persona, Fayne doesn’t turn out to be nearly as timid as the reader suspects, and the weirdness just keeps coming, but in a framework that all makes sense. There’s a lot going on, but Cavallo keep the story firmly in hand, keeping the suspense going while at the same time reveling just enough so that I got pulled into reading past my bed time more than once.

If dark fantasy, even darker technology, complex characters and and even more complex world are your bag, look not further.

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