Tiran and Alexia are shapeshifters who have risen to become king and queen of a fantastic, mysterious realm. But all is not well; treason and rebellion are rife, and strange things are happening. Alexia falls prey to enemy magic, which transforms her from a strong and decisive woman to a quaking wreck. Tiran, trying to cope with his beloved wife’s inexplicable decline, must also fight off challenges to the throne - without the faintest idea of the identity, or nature, of the challenger. Despite the help of their supporters Brandis and Cadry, things begin to look grim. Alexia and Tiran are pawns on a board they can’t even see, and no one is going to stop play to explain the rules to them.
Wind Whispers, Shadow Shouts is a strange novel; a blend of standard fantasy tropes and deft characterisation. Both Alexia and Tiran are intelligent people, equally at home with Machiavellian intrigue and bloodthirsty swordfights; they’re both magicians and shapeshifters, and the magical elements of the story are handled as capably as the politics and court intrigue. Unusually for a fantasy novel, however, there is a disconcerting lack of description; one finishes the novel with no more than the vaguest idea of what the protagonists look like. Although Wind Whispers, Shadow Shouts is complete in itself, it’s clear that familiarity with previous books in the series would give one a clearer understanding of the events related here, and the world(s) in which they take place. It’s well-structured and nicely paced, and leaves a great deal to the reader’s imagination; a point, perhaps, in its favour.