Children of Fire
Children of Fire is Drew Karpyshyn’s take on an original fantasy setting filled with taboo magic, deep characters and an engrossing plot. There are no orcs, dwarves or pointy eared elves in this fantasy world. Instead it focuses on magic and how the world views it as both acceptable and heretical. From the viewpoints of four children, the story unfolds through various threats, adventures and mysteries. Drawing upon the sea of fire, a well of unfathomable magic, they must battle the forces of chaos to survive. Yet this is only the first part of their journey.
The core of the story lies with a banished immortal named Daemron. A twisted creature who was once human and mortal, Daemron is now an exile in a world of his own creation. Separated from the mortal world by a magical barrier known as the Legacy, Daemron longs to escape from his prison. He uses a complicated ritual to seed his essence on earth. The result is four children born under the Blood Moon. These four children become the main characters of the story: Vaaler, Scythe, Cassandra and Keegan.
Vaaler is a member of the Tree Folk. In this world, they are the equivalent to elves. The Tree Folk live in the Northern Forest of Danaan. They have brownish green skin and a natural affinity for magic. Vaaler is the crown prince of his people, destined to one day rule their empire. But Vaaler has a problem: he was born without the Gift and the Sight. Unable to perform magic or see into the future, he is seen as handicapped. Before him is an upward battle to earn the right to rule and to earn the respect of his mother, the Queen.
Scythe represents the opposite end of the spectrum. Born in a brothel and raised by a doctor who flees to the safety of the ocean, she learns a very different way of life. Scythe is very independent. She learns how to live on her own, how to survive on the streets, and how cruel life can be. Her destiny leads to a life of adventure. She goes where the actions at. Without any aptitude for magic, she has to rely on her own talents.
Cassandra is the beautiful blond with emerald eyes and gifted with the touch of Chaos. The Sight is strong with her. Alas, life is not so kind. Kidnapped and raised by a rogue wizard, Cassandra grows up with only the vaguest memories of her parents. Even then, there is no stability for her as she is threatened by the Order, a monastic group that represses magic and forcefully takes any children gifted with Chaos magic.
Keegan is the most powerful of the bunch. Skilled with both the Sight and the Gift, his raw talent for magic is unprecedented. Like Cassandra, he’s raised by a wizard, but his training is never fully completed. Thrown into the world half trained and brimming with destructive potential, he falls in with a heretic named Jerrod. Jerrod claims Keegan is the Burning Savior, the one destined to defeat the Slayer Daemron. But Jerrod is a fanatic who has fallen onto his last hope. Keegan may be powerful, but is he really the savior?
The story follows the lives of these characters from their births to their early adulthood. It shows their trials and tribulations, and some of them even cross paths. There are other characters who play large parts such as the Pontiff Nazir who leads the Order, the powerful Chaos mage named Rexol, and Daemron himself. Karpyshyn does a great job of developing all the characters slowly. Here and there we get glimpses of just what kind of people these characters are. He stays away from simple good and evil archetypes. All of the characters have their flaws. Some of them are more good than evil. Others are more flawed than perfect. The world they inhabit is one with a rich history, which, like the characters themselves, is slowly revealed here and there. The pacing and content of the book created an engrossing story that’s easy to dive into and hard to leave.
As a fantasy story, Children of Fire stands on its own as a thoroughly entertaining tale. The book strikes a perfect balance between character driven storytelling and rich world building. In comparison to Drew’s Star Wars books, this one stands on par with the best elements of his Darth Bane series. But this isn’t Star Wars and Drew doesn’t hold back in his storytelling. In this world, Chaos magic is a dangerous thing that can as easily destroy your foe as it can yourself. With two more books to follow, Children of Fire kicks the series off with a great start. I give this book an impressive five out of five metal bikinis.