I met the author of The Winds of Khalakovo, Brad Beaulieu, while attending several writing panels at GenCon 2011. I was impressed because he did what I’ve only dreamed of doing: write a book. He gets to reply to that irritating question “What do you do?” with something along the lines of “Well I’m a _____. Oh, and I’m also a writer. I’ve published ___ books.” Can you sense the envy? I’m green with it! What even makes it worse is he’s about to have his second book published in The Winds series! What adds further insult to all us normals is that, quite bluntly, the book is damn good.
The Winds is a thick book and a heavy read. Or, is that a heavy book and a thick read? Either way, it’s physically big and mentally engaging. We’re not in Middle Earth any more. No, we’re in Anuskaya. Gone are the English-based names of people, places and things. Here the populace meet at the palotza and are protected by the strelitz. Here the duchies of Khalakovo and Vostroma are to be bound in a wedding and the bride docks her four-masted wind ship at an eyrie.
At that point I thought it was a great book and a good read.
Then he introduces the Aramahn with their controlling powers over the spirits of nature and I’m hooked. What I liked the most about the book was that these weren’t air spirits or fire spirits these were hezhan. The havahezhan were spirits of the air and the most commonly referenced in the book. These are summoned and used by the Aramahn to pilot the great windships. Beaulieu uses this wealth of language in The Winds very well. It is refreshing to have a Russian/Cyrillic language base in a fantasy book. One that also doesn’t lean on tired stereotypes.
If you want to embark on a long, rich, exotic journey stop reading this and go pick up The Winds of Khalakovo by Brad Beaulieu. You can thank me later!