I had completely forgotten the book’s blurb when I started it and that doubled the enjoyment I gained from reading it. To put the story succinctly, Tyrus is playing a dangerous game, and his motives seem dubious. But his game does not end with his involvement, rather it makes pawns of his niece, nephew and a flippant young warrior. Now, as the world is slowly fighting its death, the evil ones are set on the continued destruction of the world to remain in power. Annon, Hettie and Paedrin are on their own. They are united for a cause which seems like a pittance in comparison to the reality they are forced to confront. And when they do, they not only have to fight to survive but have to save thousands of lives too.
Fireblood started with a glimpse of the past which is the base through which the story starts. The scene was interesting and almost prophetic in nature. A scene like that makes one assume. I assumed. But I found that assumptions took a back seat to the events that unfolded in the book.
The first half of the book develops rather slowly. It might irritate a few people, but it gave me enough time to accustom myself to Wheeler’s style of writing. I found his writing to be slightly uneven for my taste. Sometimes the narration was slightly choppy and failed to capture my interest and at other times it was written very well and involved me completely.
Annon, Hettie and Paedrin strangely reminded me of the characters from the cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Thankfully, even though the circumstances where the world is to be saved and relationships are similar, the resemblance of the book with the cartoon ended there.
Jeff Wheeler creates such characters that it’s quite easy to identify oneself with them. However, I sometimes did find instances where the characters seemed somewhat one-dimensional. The characters were written nicely but it felt that maybe the author could not guess the exact reaction or emotion that the character went through. It didn’t happen much but when it did, the dialogues and the scenes fell flat. In addition, Jeff introduced us to a lot of characters. It’s a worrisome undertaking since these side characters gained prominence as well when the story developed. Now, I’m eager to read their perspectives and I’m hoping earnestly that they are well constructed and don’t suffer through similar one-dimensional depiction.
The key characters are young in age but quite mature in their understanding of the world. Further, every character had his or her share of secrets and their actions further complicated the story. There were remnants of childishness which showed through here and there, still, the ease with which they embraced the harshest of truths, belied a mindset of a person who is in their mid-twenties. I can’t count this as a shortcoming though because of the upbringing that the three had. And ofcourse the dangerous world they live in. To have a look at the key characters:
Annon’s maturity was something gained due to his profession. He is a Druidecht. Someone who maintains harmony between the nature-spirits and the humans. He was my favourite character in the novel. The most well-balanced character who is not impulsive. Even though sometimes his nature demands it, Annon can overcome his emotions to handle the situation. Hettie was a complex character who evoked my sympathy as well as mild rejection due to her actions in different circumstances. At the end however, I was rooting for her as much as I was for the others. On the whole, I found that Paedrin might have been the only character that disappointed me. I had high expectations of him owing to his upbringing and his wisdom, however, he was the one who acted like a teenager the most. Still his crucible was not easy to cross and his pain was the most potent to me as a reader.
Jeff Wheeler successfully evoked my emotions. I failed to predict a single percent of the story and that makes me give this book a huge bonus score. The magical and mystical world is well-developed, though I guess I would have benefitted more if I had availed myself of the glossary given at the back. But my imagination was thoroughly engrossed in building the world in the way the author described it. Fantasy is one of my favourite genres and the author utilises all the leeway provided to a story in this category. A highly detailed world, the only flaw I could find seemed to be that the travel and distance didn’t take as much time as I had anticipated. Nevertheless, the medieval world is perfect for the plot that the author introduces to the readers. But even more perfect is the way in which the whole world and its inhabitants are involved in layers of overlapping connections. The bonds, the shifting alliances, the hidden agendas, the politics, all are unexplainable and unforeseeable elements that make the story interesting.
It doesn’t happen often enough for my liking that I stumble upon a book that I really like, which has beeen written by an author previously unknown to me. This time, thankfully it happened.
Fireblood takes you into a world of mystical magic, graceful spirits, sinister plots, and drudge politics. It does not allow you the luxury of a correct guess regarding the plot and even though the story has a number of twists, the medium-pace makes it easy for the reader to follow the events without any threat of being overwhelmed.
Despite its shortcomings (and the cliff-hanger), I am glad that I got to read this book (through netgalley) and can’t wait to pick up the next one in the series.