While Storm Seed is the final volume in the iconic Sacred Band series to appear in a brand-new, Author’s Cut edition, it isn’t the last book in the series. The story takes place after the Sacred Band has been disbanded, after the events in Beyond Wizardwall and The City at the Edge of Time. Storm Seed follows on the heels of Tempus Unbound, and precedes the epic story of The Sacred Band.
Once again Team Morris delivers another outstanding novel in their classic “Chronicles of the Sacred Band,” as I always refer to them. Crisp prose, engaging characters, and a well-crafted plot carry this one right to the very end. This is Heroic Fantasy on a grand and epic scale, inspired by ancient mythology merged with a “lost” history of the world. All the tropes of the genre are here: wizards, witches, magic, ghosts, gods, dragons, and so much more. But these ingredients are used with a weight of reality to them, and in a manner I can only describe as “uniquely Morris.” Storm Seed is a story about love and loyalty, family and comradeship. And for all the elements of the fantastic, this novel is grounded in the veracity of its characters, and in the human drama and dynamics of their relationships. Almost everyone has a quest of their own to undertake, and the story unfolds at a brisk pace as the various events take one twist and turn after another until all the characters and plot-lines come together.
It seems like a reunion as so many characters from previous novels return to share the stage. Team Morris does a splendid job of giving the members of their cast equal time; almost everyone has a storyline of their own. Tempus the Black and Niko, his right-side companion, are here. Also present and accounted for: the goddess Jihan, the powerful Froth Daughter; Randal the allergy-prone wizard; Roxane the witch you really don’t want to get involved with; Cime the wizard slayer who is a real force to be reckoned with; Kama, Tempus’ daughter and warrior. The Sacred Banders Strat, Crit, and Gayle are also here, as well as Enlil the Storm God, Abarsis the Slaughter Priest, and even Strat’s Ghost Horse.
[Click the images for bigger versions.]
Tempus is reunited with Faun, too — the Shepherd of Sandia, a realm “a thousand years from Lemuria.” He first encountered her in Tempus Unbound, when she traveled to Lemuria seeking help in saving her dying land.
The Sandians had destroyed nearly all of nature’s blessings — so many that they had sent the Shepherd to Lemuria to beg for a second chance at life for their world.
As the story begins, Tempus and Cime now rule in Lemuria . . . “from where all the fates of all the civilizations of time were malleable.” They have settled into Pinnacle House, which contains portals to other times and places, and one of these portals leads to Sandia.
Original 4-volume Tempus series from Baen, 1987 – 1990
The overriding theme of Storm Seed is “searching.” Jihan searches for her son, Cyrus, who has run off to look for Tempus, his father. Roxane has escaped her prison in hell to find her beloved Niko; she kidnaps his son Nino in order to draw Niko away from Princess Tabet and the City at the Edge of Time, so she can have him all to herself. Kama seeks a purpose in life, to earn her rightful place among the Sacred Band. Randal searches for Niko and the other members of the Sacred Band. Whether it is revenge, children, parents, love, or glory — almost every character is in search of something. Love, too, is grail for which so many of these well-written characters search. As for Tempus . . . he is still the avatar of Enlil the Storm God, who dwells inside him. Now Tempus seeks to reunite the Sacred Band for another mission, this time to the future world of Sandia, to help Faun and her people, while, Cime is left behind to rule and protect Lemuria.
So, while Cyrus (son of Jihan and Tempus) searches for his father, he uses his shape-shifting talents during his travels among mortal men and women, and those don’t always turn out for the best. Roxane the witch has her own agenda, and plans to enslave Niko and use him to strike at Enlil, the Storm God, and Tempus, his avatar . . . and destroy them both. When Cyrus first encounters Roxane, who has turned herself into a black dragon, he becomes enamored with her, and takes the shape of a white dragon. But they don’t hit it off right away, and their battle is truly epic: they attack Lemuria and break through to the realm of Sandia, where they finally join forces and return to human form. In doing so, they destroy the portal leading to Sandia, thus leaving Cime trapped and alone in Lemuria. Cime must now race against time to repair the broken portal to Sandia so she can go warn and help Tempus. As for Cyrus, he must choose between his parents and his infatuation with Roxane.
Once the Sacred Band has reunited and sets out on their quest in Sandia, the story takes another interesting turn. When Tempus first met Faun, he and the Storm God Enlil “took her” one night. She should be with child, but she’s not. Tempus discovers that his seed and her eggs had been harvested and placed in perfect wombs, where Sandian doctors can control gestation, and nurture to life more than one child born of the “storm seed” of Enlil and Tempus. Sandia, as I’ve already mentioned, is a future world, the farthest into the future that Tempus has ever gone, and the Sandians want to populate their dying world with children “fathered” by the deathless Tempus, whose seed will carry something of Enlil, the Storm God. Elements of science fiction and science fact now enter into Storm Seed: breeding programs, sperm banks, in vitro fertilization, closed ecologies… as well as a mystery to be solved.
Perseid Press revised editions, 2013 – 2017
As always, there is a depth of grace and dignity in Team Morris’ characters, even the villains. Compassion, drama, confrontation, and sadness can also be found in these characters and their interactions with each other, and in an emotional, climactic scene, there’s a poignancy that adds to their depth and realism. There’s also a statement being made in Storm Seed, a message which Team Morris has worked into the story, not by beating us over the head with it, but through the subtlety and elegance of their prose.
How must it feel to dig a hole in the ground and pull it in after you? to live away from the sun and wind because you’ve destroyed your own sky and the sun is no longer a friend to you? What must it feel like to know your sky is empty of eagles, of hawks, of cranes? What must it be like to have the murder of nature weigh upon your spirit? to have sacrificed all the world’s creatures for your own kind, and thereby lost your souls more completely than by an evil magic?
The nine (so far) novels of Tempus, Niko, and the Sacred Band can be read and enjoyed on their own, out of sequential order. But here are the novels, in their proper order, and all my reviews can be found here, inside the Black Gate.
1: Tempus (with his right-side companion Niko)
2: Beyond Sanctuary
3: Beyond the Veil
4: Beyond Wizardwall
5: City at the Edge of Time
6: Tempus Unbound
7: Storm Seed
8: The Sacred Band
9: The Fish the Fighters and the Song-girl
Team Morris is in the process of republishing all of their many novels, but I hope they find time to tell us at least one more tale of Tempus and the Sacred Band.
Storm Seed is copyright © 1990, 2017 by Janet Morris and Chris Morris. Author’s Cut published by Perseid Press. Book design: Christopher Morris; cover design: Roy Mauritsen. Cover art: The Fall of Phaeton, by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1604/1505, oil on canvas. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Visit the Perseid Press website here.
I thank you all for your appreciation and positive reception of my book reviews.
Until next time… Long life to you, and everlasting glory.
Joe Bonadonna’s last article for Black Gate was his review of City at the Edge of Time, by Janet & Chris Morris.