Review: Windcatcher by A.J. Norfield

Windcatcher by A.J. Norfield

Jen reviews Windcatcher, the first book in A.J. Norfield‘s epic fantasy series, the Stone War Chronicles.

A huge thanks to A.J. Norfield for the e-book and a special thank you for your patience in waiting for this review.

This review was written as part of the Wyrd & Wonder Month hosted by amazing ladies, check out all the content on Twitter!

Wyrd and Wonder Month 2023. Artwork by Tithi Luadthong.
Artwork by Tithi Luadthong
About the Book
Series:Stone War Chronicles #1
Genre:Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Publisher:Self-Published
Date of Publishing:Oct 29, 2015
Trigger Warnings:fighting, death, slavery
Page count:386
Book Blurb
Windcatcher by A.J. Norfield

The Stone King rises and he wants his dragon!

Far away from home, under the command of his brother, Raylan and his squad must retrieve an ancient relic stolen from their kingdom’s trading partner—the Tiankong Empire.

Traveling deep into unknown enemy territory to complete their mission, Raylan learns that the ancient relic holds unexpected life; a creature buried in legends. But life is not always easy and neither is starting it, even if you are blessed with wings and claws.

Unable to fly and with their enemies closing in, the newly-hatched Galirras will have to put his trust in Raylan and his friends as they desperately search for a safe way home. Danger lurks around every corner: Warriors larger than any man, predators stalking them through the night and soldiers determined to hunt them down.

Their group has little choice, except to keep moving; strategically plotting and fighting their way back to those awaiting their return. But will they make it? After all, the Stone King is ruthless and he wants his dragon…

Quote of the Book
Quote Background

“Raylan stared into the Darkened’s face, barely inches from his own. It was clearly meant to intimidate and terrorize. To his horror, Raylan saw the mouth of his opponent was sewn shut. The tattoo hid most of the thread from view when seen from a distance; facing him head on, the stitches were painfully clear. The Darkened opened his mouth, a crack, stretching the strings between his upper and lower lip, and made a hissing, gurgling threat that sounded inhuman. The smell of his breath was nauseating. Raylan felt like he was staring death in the eyes.”

Song of the Book

Fight For My Survival by The Phantoms

Review

I seem to have stumbled onto more than a few raise-your-baby-Dragon stories lately.

Anyway, this was a nice surprise. Windcatcher is a good fun story, that has an adventure coming-of-age feel but with some definite darker themes – starting with a nasty piece of work bad guy, Corza, who isn’t even the baddest bad guy of them, but a minion of the Stone King.

I am not sure if the Stone King gained that great name from his overall nasty countenance… I mean, this guy has his own set of creepy guards called the Darkened (Their mouths are sewn shut and if that wasn’t enough to make you pause, they have tattooed their faces to look like skulls, as well), or the fact that he has a stone hand but either way, he’s not a nice guy at all.

So, it all begins with the Stone King stealing a relic from a monastery in the Wutao Mountains.

Raylan, as part of the special recon squad led by his brother Gavin, is on a mission with an emissary from Tiankong (Xi’lao) to retrieve this stolen artifact, and as these things go – nothing is quite what they expect. First of all, the relic is in fact an egg. A very large one. And secondly, the Stone King has already through his General, put in motion the steps that would start the hatching of this egg for his own nefarious plans.

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The world of Windcatcher feels very large and had a few nice ideas – the tree people community, while not exactly new to fantasy did some different things with the rappel packs and also the reasons they were living in trees instead of the ground – which I will leave for you to discover.

I really liked the combination of in-world creatures and man-made dangers. The creatures made the world feel dangerous and like a place where the likelihood of a dragon hatching would be possible. The man-made dangers were terror-inspiring; the Ghol’ms statues were so cool, but I especially loved the stone wolves.

I really liked that it wasn’t an easy road to their destination, and they faced obstacles and big losses, along the way.

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The story has some great action-packed sequences as Raylan and company flee from their pursuers. I think these were all so well done. It’s not easy to write that kind of action without losing focus and weighing it down in details. It’s the fast-paced and edge-of-your-seat kind of stuff that I love so much.

I really enjoyed the cart chase and crash, because it reminded me of the old Western movies I grew up on. But the race to the bridge had to have been the most nail-biting moment for me.

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As I said above, there is a slight coming-of-age feel to the story. But that has more to do with Galirras – the dragon than it does with Raylan and company. Galirras is like a child at first. He has only known the generosity of the people taking care of him but soon finds not everyone is as kind.

Though Rayland is travelling with his brother and company and we are involved with them, Rayland is our main focus. Again more because of Galirras, who has bonded to him. As the story progresses the attention is more on their bond, and Galirras, learning and growing. I guess you could say it has that classic “boy and his dog” feel to it – like Old Yeller… that might be a bad example, I assure you the dragon lives in the end.

TLDR

Windcatcher feels like the classic fantasy I grew up on. It’s full-on adventure with fun hair-raising moments but it’s the friendship between a young man and his dragon that really give this story its heart.

Our Judgement
Let Their Deeds Be Noted - 4 Crowns

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