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Chasers of the Wind: The Cycle of Wind and Sparks    by Alexey Pehov order for
Chasers of the Wind
by Alexey Pehov
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2014 (2014)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Alexey Pehov's Chasers of the Wind (translated from the Russian by Elinor Huntington), opens a new Cycle of Wind and Sparks trilogy. It is set in the same world as his Chronicles of Siala, but centuries later than those events. The previous trilogy (which was fast, furious and rich in imagination) introduced an appealing antihero, young master thief Shadow Harold. His presence is felt, though late in the story, this time around as well.

But the married leads here, assassins archer Gray and Layen (who has an impessive Gift) are also antiheroes, whose saving grace is their deep love for each other. They have been hunted ever since their last job in Al'sgara (in which they took out a Walker), moving periodically to keep ahead of those on their trail. As Chasers of the Wind opens, they are settled in the forest village of Dog Green. But rogues who were once their comrades (as well as young Shen, a Healer) find them there, and they are all about to be caught up in war.

The Empire's longtime enemies, the Nabatorians, have invaded, capturing the Gates of Six Towers ('the greatest fortress in the world', which was believed to be impregnable) with help from powerful Sdisian necromancers, and Rubeola, one of the Damned. Another story thread follows two who escaped that destruction - Snow Leopard barbarian Ga-Nor and Luk, a common soldier. They eventually make their way to Dog Green together. Naturally, their path intersects with that of Gray and Layen.

After the Nabatorians reach Dog Green, the necromancer accompanying them senses Layen's talent and contacts another of the Damned, Typhoid, who wants Layen's power. Gray, Layen and the others damage her badly and flee, but she soon takes up the chase again. There are constant battles and betrayals, and a mysterious courier, Gis, travels with the (more or less) good guys for a time. It all comes to a head back in Al'sgara, where Gray and Layen execute the toughest contract of their very illustrious careers.

This first episode ends on a cliffhanger at 'the Tower of the Walkers, which overshadows the entire world', setting the scene nicely for what follows. Though Chasers of the Wind took a while to grab my interest, when it did, it didn't let go and I'm keen to find out what's ahead for Gray, Layen and the others in the next episode in Pehov's Cycle of Wind and Sparks.

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