Power's Wrath

Book One of the Hourglass Series

Fiction - Fantasy - Epic
374 Pages
Reviewed on 07/14/2018
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

From a young age, Stephen has always been an avid reader and fan of the fantasy genre. Devouring stories told, and later influenced, by many great legends such as Robert Jordan, George RR Martin and Philip Pullman, Stephen began his passion for writing at eleven years old.

The youngest of ten, Stephen studied English and Psychology in university before continuing on to complete his master’s degree in Old and Middle English. After suffering a traumatic brain injury in 2015, it pushed and focused his mind into writing his first novel, Power’s Wrath (2017), aiming to bring alive an immersive world he has lovingly crafted over fourteen years for his readers to enjoy.

In his free time, Stephen likes to dabble in different forms of art such as clay sculpting and painting, with a little knitting on the side. He loves to meet and support fellow newly-published writers and, if anyone needs a tea cozy, he’s your man!

    Book Review

Reviewed by K.J. Simmill for Readers' Favorite

The king's assassination had marked a change for the remote kingdom of Screenia. The queen had been childless, and there were many who thought the throne should pass to them. The king had been assassinated by an Unknown. The strange creature had been witnessed, but all attempts to stop it had failed. The king had been content with his lands, but there were those who wanted to march south and reclaim the lands that were once theirs. Not everyone thought this way, and now there was cause to peruse these ventures. Calthus Calstone was gadal to the king, a respected advisor, but time had not been kind to his aging body which now disguised a man who had once been thought of as a hero. The inscriptions left on the former king's chest bore some importance. Locked away in the prison of his mind, Calthus knew of their relevance, but he could not pull the meaning from his mind. However, he knew it meant they must go south; only there would answers be found, but perhaps they were asking the wrong questions. Join the adventure in Stephen's Shortall's Power's Wrath.

Power's Wrath: Book One of the Hourglass Series by Stephen Shortall is a fine example of epic fantasy. Conflict, deceit, schemes, and politics mesh to form a kingdom on the verge of war, but there is something bigger afoot. Stephen Shortall possesses a wonderful descriptive voice that allows the reader to clearly visualise the vivid scenes and complex characters. A large cast is easily handled with no two characters being the same, each is unique and driven by their own desires and motivations. Growth and development of key characters run parallel, if not central to the finely designed tale. This is one book you won't want to put down. With such a rich and vibrant environment and magnificent world building, it can seem as real, if not more so than your everyday existence. Action-packed, riveting, and immersive, Power's Wrath was a truly amazing read, and a strong first book in what looks to be a very interesting and exciting series.

Scott Cahan

Power’s Wrath by Stephen Shortall is the beginning of a new fantasy series about a magical yet brutal world. It's set in a land that has much in common with the dark ages of earth, with its kings and noblemen and princes and warriors. Yet, there are also magicians called Gadal ingrained in the society that protect the humans from an evil race called the Bo’Rai. The story revolves around the nobility of a country whose king is killed toward the beginning. His reluctant successor is chosen and an old Gadal named Calthus warns that they must travel to a distant land in order to survive and avoid a dark magical force. That sets off a grueling march for their army, across snow covered mountains, accompanied by the king and all of his advisors. On the way they encounter a magical forest as well as treachery from some of the king’s most trusted advisors.

As a study in world building and deep character development, Power’s Wrath succeeds brilliantly. Stephen Shortall’s style of writing flows effortlessly from the present relationships of his characters to the history and lineage that’s behind each event in the story. In the hands of many authors, the intricate detail presented in Power’s Wrath would have made for dull reading. Shortall, on the other hand, has a way of making it all interesting and very personal to his characters. I know there is a huge following for books that can present a story world with such depth and imagination. That crowd, I’m sure, will find this book quite enjoyable. I, however, like a little more action thrown in with the character development and found myself wishing the story would move faster. When the action did finally come it was worth the wait. Overall, Power’s Wrath is a well-written, imaginative story that many will find a great start to a new series.

Susan Sewell

The Eternals' era came to an abrupt and violent end, and they were forced to leave the remaining mortals to fend for themselves. The Prophet offered them nothing to change the course of events, so they were left without a remedy. As the world violently collapsed around them, the Eternals vacated the cities they had built, hoping to return in the future, in the epic fantasy, Power's Wrath (The Hourglass Series Book 1) by Stephen Shortall. As the centuries pass, the mortals only remember their gods who once ruled the planet through myths and legends. These Immortals, using the dynamic force of dal, had accomplished great feats. With dal, they had built and occupied spectacular cities and edifices that rose to the sky, and had cared for and healed the human inhabitants. Then suddenly the gods vanished during a violent cataclysm and no longer participated in the lives of the planet's inhabitants. But now many, many years later, something has changed, something that has not happened since the gods' departure; an immortal has appeared. This genderless entity murders a gentle and peaceful king. Troubled, an ancient gadal insists the new ruler lead his troops to confront the ones who sent the abomination responsible for the death of their king. The gadal is concerned with how their traitorous neighbor conjured up an immortal entity. Has one or more of the Eternals returned?

Power's Wrath (The Hourglass Series Book 1) by Stephen Shortall is an exhilarating epic fantasy. The novel opens with the captivating millennia-old conflict, irresistibly luring the reader to follow the story to the end. With subtle hints of the past, the intriguing beginning segues into the present with a bold murder. The ensuing journey culminates into a spectacular and pivotal revelation. The author has built a believable story world with realistic characters, rousing, action-packed scenes, and breathtaking settings. Ancient science, historical enmity, and prophecy are intriguingly woven into the plot and masterfully combined with elusive magic. This is the first book in a brilliant epic fantasy series and, although it comes to an earth-shattering conclusion, the momentous event is the beginning of a scintillating saga. This is a fabulous story.

Jessica Barbosa

Power's Wrath by Stephen Shortall takes place in a distant kingdom, its bright future threatened with the death of its king. Not wanting the kingdom to fall into the wrong hands and into war, the king's childhood friend, Korin, takes on the mantle. However, his plans to avoid war are complicated when the elderly, venerable gadal, Calthus, pushes for a march south, bringing with him Korin's son, Brehan, and his student, Yarik. Calthus senses that danger is imminent and when he regains what he had lost a long time ago, he tries to keep from making the same mistakes. Though, despite the terrifying enemy that awaits them, the biggest trouble yet for the kingdom might come from betrayal and disagreements within its own ranks.

The concept and story line was given a lot of thought and it shows in the way this book was written and how the scenes were planned out. It was amazing to see Calthus rekindle his greatness and rediscover his past and himself. He trusted his instinct and knowledge despite the uncertainty and his inability to remember. It led him into an adventure and meeting with people from his past that he never expected. A tale of betrayal, discovery, adventure, mixed in with the complications of politics in a monarchy. It is a story that somehow managed to seamlessly blend the concept of the gadal, the Eternals, and stones with mysterious power into the plot without making it seem out of place. This book is compelling in the way that it easily jumps between genres based on the story line’s path. Readers who enjoy examining the complexities of monarchy, with just enough of fantasy and a whole heap of adventure, will find themselves lost in the intricacies of Stephen Shortall's Power's Wrath. I will be one of many eagerly awaiting the second book.

Jamie Michele

Power's Wrath by Stephen Shortall is the first installment in the author's Hourglass Series. In the kingdom of Screenia, the king has been murdered by an "Unknown" - a spirit-like entity - and the queen has not had a child, leaving the matter of succession uncertain. It is Korin who ends up taking the throne, but only Calthus who can understand the dangers of the reclamation of old lands. As the relic of evil, Bo’Rai, begins to arise, the beleaguered military progresses and Calthus is faced with manifestations of time gone by and the annihilation of Screenia's army feels like a certainty.

The first thing that I noticed and loved about Power's Wrath by Stephen Shortall is its cover, which is absolutely stunning. The story begins with a strong introduction and pacing that establishes it as the first of an epic fantasy saga in the realm of quick page-turners. If Shortall has one noteworthy strength it is, without a doubt, his ability to flesh out details. The writing style is concise and consistent, with lines that imprint the people and locations in the mind of the reader. "There was no show of the decay over the years, nor was there any sign of the rotting branches that fell and lay covered by the undergrowth, as there were no plants beneath the trees." I believe this book will find a wide audience among lovers of the epic fantasy genre, and would recommend this book to any readers who are looking for a new series to dive into, casting its spell on all who decide to give Power's Wrath a try.