Children of Fire by Drew Karpyshyn
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Long ago the gods chose a
great hero to act as their agent in the mortal world and to stand
against the demonic spawn of Chaos. The gods gifted their champion,
Daemron, with three magical Talismans: a sword, a ring, and a crown. But
the awesome power at his command corrupted Daemron, turning him from
savior to destroyer. Filled with pride, he dared to challenge the gods
themselves. Siding with the Chaos spawn, Daemron waged a titanic battle
against the Immortals. In the end, Daemron was defeated, the Talismans
were lost, and Chaos was sealed off behind the Legacy—a magical barrier
the gods sacrificed themselves to create.
Now the Legacy is
fading. On the other side, the banished Daemron stirs. And across the
scattered corners of the land, four children are born of suffering and
strife, each touched by one aspect of Daemron himself—wizard, warrior,
Bound by a connection deeper than blood, the
Children of Fire will either restore the Legacy or bring it crashing
down, freeing Daemron to wreak his vengeance upon the mortal world.
The first third of this book details the birth and early life of the “Children of Fire”, they are born under different circumstances, one is a prince, another the daughter of a minor noble, a third is the son of a farmer the forth is born in a brothel. They live their separate lives, but there are certain similarities and overlap.
One of the few criticisms I have for this part of the story is we are often told how many years have passed since we last read about the character we have just switched to, but we are not always told how old they are now.
I thought the author was successful at giving enough reminders of a character when the POV switches back to them. This helped me remember who this character was and what was happening with their part of the story. There was never too much of a recap which would have slowed the pace.
All four characters were interesting without being exceptional. I wanted to hear from them all. I was interested in reading about whoever the current POV character was and wanted to hear what was happening to them, but simultaneously I also wanted to hear from characters I hadn’t read about for a while.
The characters each have their own personalities, which were consistent but also developed as they continue through life.
The rest of the book details the characters at about 18 years old, and it is were there main part of the story starts. We no longer have the rapid jumping forward in time and the characters lives begin to cross over more.
I thought the secondary characters were well written and realistic. Most of the major players believe that they are good people trying to do to the right thing and they are working towards defeating the great evil (a character known as the Slayer). Each of them had different believes and different ways of dealing with the Slayer, often at odds with the other characters. Sometimes what they do is helping one of the main characters and at other times they are harming them. This led to ambiguity for these secondary characters making them more interesting.
It was also interesting to see how the main characters behaved when the met with one another. Sometimes they would work together which was great, but sometimes they were at odds with one another which was very interesting as I had grown to like all of the characters and wanted them all to succeed.
The descriptions are fairly good, perhaps a little short compared to most fantasy novels, but there is always enough there to clearly follow what was happening. The short descriptions did help keep the pace up as well.
The story is very good, while it is true to say there isn’t really anything original about it, there are defiantly strong similarities to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of time, as well as some similarities to Tolkien, Terry Brooks and other traditional fantasy authors. I didn’t think it mattered too much since the story is exciting and enjoyable.
The pacing was fast, it didn’t really feel like an epic fantasy, but more like a movie, mostly due to its light concepts, familiar ideas and high amount of action. This did make for a fast and enjoyable read even if there was nothing exceptional about it.
There were quite a few times were a character acted in a way that seemed to be in a way to set up plot or start a piece of action (such as when Jerrod started a barroom brawl when he was supposed to be protecting Keegan and keeping a low profile) rather than act in a way that would be realistic or consist with the character.
I thought the world building and the magic system was well developed. We are told about it in a way that felt natural and are given the information at an appropriate time. There was never a time that I felt this went of for too long, if anything it was too short.
There wasn’t a map included, although this was an ARC so perhaps there will be one in the final edition. I really felt like this book would have benefited from having one, there are a few kingdoms and many cities and it would have been nice having a clear way to see how they were all linked.
There is nothing particularly wonderful about this book, it is not original, the magic system and world are traditional and the characters are good without being exceptional. But somehow the author makes the story interesting, exciting and easy to read