This was a decent short story, which introduces readers to Juliet E. McKenna’s The Hadrumal Crisis fantasy series. The Wizard’s Coming might actually be a true prequel to that series, but since I’ve not read it, I’m not sure. The focus of the tale, however, is on Lord Halferan, who has contacted a wizard from the wizard isle to come to his small realm’s aid against the corsairs from the sea.
McKenna starts things off by introducing a reader to a group of warriors waiting by the sea for sign of the approach of ships, and then their desperate flight back to their lord to give him word of the arrival of said ships. From there, the viewpoint shifts to Lord Halferan himself as he attempts to save his people from the corsairs only to find himself confronted by a danger he should have been expecting but blinded himself to.
Whenever I read a short story or novella that is an “introduction” to a fantasy series, I always worry that the author is not going to be able to pull it off: i.e. make me want to read their series. Honestly, it is difficult to write a gripping intro story that sets up a trilogy. It can be done, but it is difficult. And usually, the writers who fail make one of two glaring mistakes: either they do not give me enough details about the world to make it interesting, or they info dump me to death in order to let me know how great their fantasy setting is. Unfortunately, McKenna makes the former mistake.
In The Wizard’s Coming, a reader is thrown into the action from the beginning with little understanding of what is going on. Even when Lord Halferan makes an appearance to begin clearing up the confusion, the story rapidly speeds up, hurtling toward completion with the reader still scratching his or her head as to why any of this is occurring. When you add to this the minute world building, you could probably understand my reservations about this story.
Now, is The Wizard’s Coming a horrible read?
Not at all. It is entertaining. Unfortunately, it did not excite me or make me desire to try out the fantasy series, which is disappointing. So keep this in mind if you try this one out.