John Deskata, heir to House Deskata, was exiled from Miilark for sleeping with his Law-Sister Rhianne. They were very young at the time and were not blood relations but the law had been clear and so John Deskata was disowned and thrust out into the world, to live or die by his own wits.
Many pampered heirs would have died but not John Deskata, he thrived – as a soldier. Despite having been raised as a trader he became a strong, cunning, efficient killer of men, and other things. His motivation was survival and pride, two things that served him well while the enemies he fought were clearly defined and while his allies were fighting the same enemies but what happens to such a man when the fighting stops and the past catches up with him?
For John the past returned with the destruction of House Deskata and a reunion with Rhianne. Both he and Rhianne were older, both had changed, yet both still clung to the love they had felt for each other as teenagers. Was this to be the happy ending to their shattered lives?
If you think M.Edward McNally’s Norothian cycle has suddenly taken a turn away from grown-up fantasy to romance novel then think again. In the Wind from Miilark McNally does take a slightly different direction but it is not into romance. Instead he explores the dark side of obsession and asks uncomfortable questions about whether it is ever possible to go back, to recreate a beautiful moment in the past with someone you have loved. Can things ever be the way they were or is it necessary to forge new bonds?
Rhianne is the first to recognize that the boy she loved is now a man and a stranger. She follows faithfully where John leads but all her attempts to get to know this stranger seem doomed to failure. John does not like talking about his past, the past that she did not share and seems to believe that nothing has changed, least of all himself. He is still just as obsessed with Rhianne as he was years before but now he has another obsession as well – exacting revenge on those who destroyed his House. For him the future is clear – he and Rhianne will live together and they will punish their enemies in any way they can, using any means open to them.
For John the end justifies the means. That is a lesson in survival he learned well as a soldier. And so obsession and expediency gather momentum as he stalks his prey with single-minded determination, dragging Rhianne along in his wake.
But Rhianne is no helpless damsel, she is intelligent and honest, far too honest not to realise that the man she is coming to know is not someone she always likes. She remains loyal but the seeds of the coming tragedy were sown many years before and cannot be stopped.
I won’t tell you what happens to John and Rhianne but I will tell you that The Wind from Miilark is my favourite book in the series. It is a very grown-up book, rich with a knowledge of the darker side of the human psyche. It is an exploration of the monster within, told with insight and great subtlety. For my money these internal monsters are far more interesting, and chilling, than any dragon or demon and make The Wind from Miilark a dark book full of foreboding.
I rarely rate books because I consider arbitrary numbers to be just that, arbitrary. However I’m breaking with tradition this time to give this book a 5/5 because I believe it crosses the genre barrier into literature. And I loved it.