SPFBO Status: Finalist
Overview (No Spoilers):
Kura lives a relatively simple farming life far beyond any civilization, where she interacts with talking animals and flirts with rebel notions. Triston, on the other hand, has lived a life of privilege as a prince in a land that his father was instrumental in overthrowing in his youth. Both of their lives are thrown into upheaval as forgotten magics, prophecies, creatures, and evils begin to emerge, putting everyone and everything they love in danger. Complicating matters for Triston is the slow realization that the conspirators may be closer at hand than he imagined. Will Triston recognize the danger before it is too late?
Despite a fascinating premise found in Fire of the Forebears that is overflowing with magic, I struggled to connect with the main characters as well as keep track of the large supporting cast. Many of the decisions made by Kura (and to a lesser extent Triston) are rash, often putting loved ones in significant danger for little reward. That said, the parties at risk often discover some unexpected route to salvation. As this pattern starts to repeat itself, the amount of suspense arising from these dangerous situations diminishes.
While I loved all of the mystical creatures that fill these pages, the talking animals take the cake as one of my favorite aspects of this world, with the centaurs who step out of legend coming in at a close second. So it should come as no surprise that I was left wishing for more details and backstory, as the depth of these characters and their unique abilities leave room for more.
Overall, Buck writes an ambitious tale of survival and self-discovery that packs sorcerers, prophecies, talking animals, centaurs, and rebellion into a story, while yo-yoing from one seemingly inescapable danger to another. Fire of the Forebears is full of potential, but the pacing of the story is slowed by a seemingly endless quagmire of politics and logistics.
Additional Insight (Spoilers Abound):
- I love the twist that Dradge actually fulfills the prophecy despite him originally falsifying it with a pseudo-blade decades before. That said, I lost so much respect for Kura by her taking all of the credit.
- Skellor was such an interesting character that kept showing up. Why did he spend so much time in the shadows when he kept proving his worth?
- I kept getting confused who was Fedelis and who wasn’t? And then the enemy had Vojaks and Sajas? It was not easy to keep everything straight regarding the many magical aspects of this book.
- Seren is another strange character as his motivations seem so black and white, yet filled with contradictions.
- So, only the elite noble families trained to be Fidelis, but wouldn’t there be other rogue magicians like Aethan around that would wield magic, despite not getting the official training? I recognize he had a tutor, but wouldn’t there be other people with latent abilities around?