Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Review: Sword of Fire and Sea

Sword of Fire and Sea

By:  Erin Hoffman

Publisher:  Pyr Books

Publish Date:  June 2011

Format:  Arc

Genre:  Fantasy

Series:  1st book in The Chaos Knight series

Recommendation:  Maybe.  If you like epic fantasy reads.

Book Synopsis:
Three generations ago Captain Vidarian Rulorat's great-grandfather gave up an imperial commission to commit social catastrophe by marring a fire priestess.  For love, he unwittingly doomed his family to generations of a rare genetic disease that follows families who cross elemental boundaries.  Now Vidarian, the last surviving member of the Rulorat family, struggles to uphold his family legacy, and finds himself chained to a task as a result of the bride price his great-grandfather paid: the Breakwater Agreement, a seventy-year-old alliance between his family and the High Temple of Kara'zul, domain of the fire priestesses.

The priestess Endera has called upon Vidarian to fulfill his family's obligation by transporting a young fire priestess named Ariadel to a water temple far to the south, through dangerous pirate-controlled territory.  A journey perilous in the best of conditions is made more so by their pursuers: rogue telepathic magic-users called the Vkortha who will stop at nothing to recover Ariadel, who has witnessed their forbidden rites.

Together, Vidarian and Ariadel will navigate more than treacherous waters: Imperial intrigue, a world that has been slowly losing its magic for generations, secrets that the priestesshoods have kept for longer, the indifference of their elemental goddesses, gryphons - once thought mythical - now returning to the world, and their own labyrinthine family legacies.  Vidarian finds himself at the intersection not only of the world's most volatile elements, but of colliding universes, and the ancient and alien powers that lurk between them.

First Sentence:
Though the coastal island of Siane's Eye was lush with whispering palms and tropical flowers too exotic for the names of men, the wind that swept ever outward from its alabaster monuments came chill as a lifetime of penance.

My Thoughts and Summary:
Vidarian is summoned to meet with the priestess of air, Endera.  Endera feels his family history and his ship make him perfect for her task at hand.  When Vidarian refuses the job of taking a fire priestess on his wooden ship in the ocean through dangerous waters Endera invokes the commitment made by his grandfather 50 years ago binding Vidarian to the journey.  Endera being of good graces will still pay him handsomely though.  The fire priestess is being transported because she is being sought after by Vkortha, dangerous telepaths who live on their own island where no one knows except the fire priestess Ariadel.  Vidarian will learn more of fire magic, water magic, and himself than he ever thought possible as a lone sailor.  Will the fire goddess go beyond normal doings to help the priestess Araidel and Vidarian?  Or is there more at stake here?  Even the griffins are willing to help Vidarian believing he is the one to close the gate.

This is one full fantasy read with a journey and world all created new here.  This world created is one full of the four elements, and the space between them.  The space being chaos and/or connection of the elements.  For each of the four elements there are priestesses.  But the magic has been dieing out over the years.  Even with the crossing of the elements in bloodlines it's created a disease that could kill the children and young adults if more than one flares to life inside them.  Even the griffins are of different elements.  And this world aspect I really enjoyed.  Even the mythology in setting up the gate, and chaos.  But what lies behind the gates might be able to help the world or flip it completely upside down from what they know it as.

The characters where interesting in the way they handle the occurrences they go through.  Their where a few things about the characters I didn't understand though.  One was Vidarian wanting to be bond the emeralds he is paid from Endera to his life.  I think I missed something here as the emeralds will die out when he passes on.  I would think he would want them to spend not to look at, but I'm not him.  And the love between Vidarian and Ariadel seemed to happen awfully fast for me.  Unless there was something with the bonding to the emeralds that connected them (which I'm thinking happened) it seemed they fell in 'love' to quickly for me.  But as a couple I like them together.

This book seems to be the start of a bigger series.  To me the first half of the book was set up of the characters and arranging the world for us.  I felt from time to time there where things said by the characters or happenings that posed huge questions in my mind that instantly made me feel lost.  The answers did come through shortly after, but when I read them at first I felt there was not set up for it to me and had me lost.  The second half of the book read easier for me and the action picked up.  We also got more of the back story answers here for the world and creatures and characters.

I think I read the synopsis of the book and was trying to relate some of that to what I was reading and had a hard time.  As the information about Vidarian's grandfather marrying a fire priestess doesn't come out until the very end of the book.  Along with other details of the world and the different magics not living peacefully blended together in bloodlines.  I like this idea, but kind of wish it was presented earlier in the book.

I'm very curious to see where the next book in the series goes.  I think this could be a good series, but a shaky start for me.  But these are my thoughts and could have just been my timing in reading it wasn't right.  Please if you like the sounds of the book, go give it a try you just might like it.  I really wanted to loooove this book, as I only liked it.  I would like to give book two a chance to see where this great world goes.

I requested an ARC copy of the book from the publisher.

This book qualifies for the Speculative Fiction Challenge hosted by Floor to Ceiling Books.


Anonymous said...

I am a sucker for anything with gryphons in it - those are one of my favorite mythological animals. Another story with the characters fall in love in the blink of an eye, huh? Makes me think that many authors aren't that comfortable with writing about the act of falling in love.

Melissa (My World...in words and pages) said...

StephanieD - I think there is something in the bonding of the Emeralds and Endera bonded one to Ariadel too, but I'm not sure. But it just seemed to happen quickly. But there was more time that passed than I was ready for too. It might just be me. Thank you!

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Hm... it seems that the characters just didn't quite gel in a way for you to love them. The world looks interesting. I don't know, it almost seems like they were trying to fit too much into this one story. Anyway, I did enjoy your review!

Melissa (i swim for oceans) said...

I'll be honest - a shaky start wouldn't be enough to convince me to read a series, but the premise is intriguing. Great honest review :)

Blodeuedd said...

Sounds good but so hard to know with fantasy (even if I like most in the end lol)

Melissa (My World...in words and pages) said...

Melissa (Books&Things) - Yeah, I'm thinking I could give book 2 a try and see if it was just me at the time or not. I like the ideas here, but I don't know. I don't know what to think. I think so far I'm the only one feeling this way. Maybe it is just me. :/

Melissa (I Swim for Oceans) - Thank you. I think so far I'm the only one on Goodreads that feels a little unsure abt this one thus far. But, I'll think on getting book two. :)

Blodeuedd - It is hard to know with fantasy books. But I feel that way about this one. I'm just not sure and okay with it. *sigh*