THIEF, SWORDSMAN, AND WIZARDESS
AARON. Clan Heir, he has fled his people when his beloved was slain by his own father’s command, abandoning his training, duty and beliefs to become a thief. A master of his trade, he now dared the odds in Ischia, city of the volcano, where the price of being caught was death.
DARVISH. Prince of Ischia, third son of a king who had no intention of giving up his throne. The prince was a drunkard, a lover, and a wastrel, yet was gifted with sword skills and with the ability to charm all around him. But not even his charm could free him from the political marriage now being planned.
CHANDRA. Born a princess, she had chosen to become a Wizard of the Nine, that rarest of beings, able to master all the forms that sorcery could take. Now, promised as Darvish’s bride, she undertook a desperate journey to Ischia to convince him they must not wed.
Aaron, Darvish, Chandra–three strangers whose fates were about to become interwined. For someone had stolen The Stone, the magical talisman which stood between Ischia and the volcano’s wrath. And unless the three could learn to work together on a quest to find the Stone, Ischia would drown in a sea of lava.
Of the books I read for Asexuality Awareness week (which, oops, is over and I still haven’t done a post on it), this is one of the ones that surprised me most. I didn’t know much about this book or author before going into it, and I had this image of a generic brand fantasy in my head. While the plot did end up being pretty generic, the book as a whole had so many elements I’d never seen in high fantasy before. In addition, I became attached to the characters very quickly, and over the course of the book the attachment only grew; I loved watching them grow closer to each other and confront their pasts, and the love between them towards the end made me very emotional.
Also none of them are straight! Aaron and Darvish are both bisexual and Chandra is asexual. (A note on Chandra’s asexuality: it’s not stated clearly in canon and could probably be interpreted as celibacy because she says at one point that having a sexual relationship would distract from her magic. It’s worth noting that she initially feels that way about all relationships; however, by the end of the book, she cares very deeply about Aaron and Darvish, but still doesn’t want to have sex. I see Chandra as asexual, but I wish the book very less vague.
If you’re a YA reader who’s interested in transitioning to adult fantasy, this would be a good transition book; it’s adult, but has a very YA-ish “gang of misfits go on a quest and learn about themselves” thing going, and it’s just generally a really fun book.
Aaaand we have another fantasy book where one of our heroes has not just one but TWO fridged women in his past. Another protagonist’s father has, you guessed it, a fridged woman in his past. Other people have discussed the issues with women always having to die to give a man sad backstory better than I have, so I’ll just say that I’m really tired of it.
As I said before, the plot didn’t really do anything for me. By the end of the book, I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on plot-wise, like, at all.
The Fire’s Stone is a very character and relationship driven book, and the characters and relationships were on point. I loved how they all slowly grew to care about and rely on each other. They’re all broken in different ways, and they help each other heal and it’s beautiful. And oh my god, certain scenes between Aaron and Darvish just made my eyes turn into little hearts. If you’re into slow-burn romance, I definitely recommend this book.
Also, Chandra has this character arc–emotionally distant person learns to care about people and have feelings–that almost always has romance. It’s almost always the love interest who is the center of this type of character’s growth and healing. In this case, Chandra has no love interest. Her development is 100% through the power of friendship. I thought that was a nice change.
I’ve read so many fantasy books where at least one character seems to have their hand superglued to a glass containing some alcoholic beverage, but this is the first one that actually delved into the effects of alcohol addiction and withdrawal, which was really interesting and refreshing.
I loved all the women just casually in positions of power, and the fact that the setting was distinctly non-Western. Again, different from what you’d expect in high fantasy.
Pick up if you like fun character-driven high fantasy and are in the mood to feel All of the Things.