Flame and Fury

Flame and Fury was written by Lisa Gail Green and first published in 2017. It is an urban fantasy story which is loosely inspired by Arthurian legends. The novel forms the first part of the Merlin’s Legacy series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Aedan has a secret. For his whole life, he has struggled to control terrible fire magic and it has already cost him three people that he cared about. In order to prevent any further deaths, he distances himself from others and keeps himself to himself. That is, until his adoptive mother arranges for him to tutor Maya in mathematics. It’s not long before Aedan finds himself falling for Maya and she makes it clear that the feeling is mutual.

However, Maya is also hiding a secret. She is a member of an ancient order known as the Circle and has been groomed her whole life to seek out and destroy “elementals”. These soulless beings are born once every two hundred years and, if left to their own devices, will unite to destroy the world. Maya has narrowed down the identity of the fire elemental to five teenagers, and one of those is Aedan.

It’s not long before Aedan is approached by another elemental – Kari – and starts to learn the truth about his powers. Kari belongs to another cult – Scimitar – which plans to bring the four elementals together on the coming Equinox. Although Kari has been long prepared for the role that she will play in apocalypse, Aedan is unconvinced. He loves his family and does not want any harm to come to them. Yet will this be enough to overcome the reason for his birth and the tantalising draw of dark magic…

Flame and Fury is a very fast-paced story which is quick to find its feet. Although it is set in present day, it’s not long before it reveals that its roots are loosely twisted around Arthurian Legend. And I do mean loosely. I confess that I don’t know much about these myths, but it seems to me that the characters mentioned in this story are only really Arthurian in name only. The Circle is a secret society founded by King Arthur in order to combat a reoccurring magical threat. It is designed to fight Scimitar – a cult devoted to resurrecting Morgana and bringing about the end of the world. Due to this, you might be a little disappointed if you are purely picking up this story based on its connection to the lore.

However, as a fantasy story in its own right, the novel is fast to find its feet. Green is very quick to set the scene, introducing all of the key concepts and characters within a few short chapters. While I did think the plot felt a little generic, it caught my interest very quickly and made me curious to read on in order to find out what would happen as the Equinox drew closer.

The story was told entirely in third person and the narrative was split evenly between the two protagonists – Aedan and Maya. This worked very well as it gave the reader a direct insight into their very different worlds. The two protagonists also had distinct voices which made it easy to differentiate between them. However, there was a lot of exposition in both narratives. One of the biggest issues that I had with Flame and Fury was the fact that the author had a habit of telling the reader what was going on, rather than showing it. Maya was especially guilty of this, as she tended to repeat the same information about her role. Sadly, this took me out of the story a bit as it did bog down the pacing of the tale.

My interest in the novel also began to wain as it entered its second half. While the opening chapters were well written and made me excited to find out where the story was heading, the conclusion just felt rushed. As soon as Morgana entered proceedings, the plot hurtled towards a very abrupt climax filled with confusing action sequences. The last few chapters were especially disappointing, as a lot of important things seemed to occur off-page. A few characters were even killed off over this section, though I expect that the reason for this not being shown is due to the fact that the author intends to do something more with them in the sequel. The final chapter broke off very abruptly, never actually reaching the Equinox yet seemingly tying off many loose ends.

In terms of characterisation, Flame and Fury was also a little varied. Aedan gets a lot of development over the course of the story, discovering the truth behind his powers and exploring whether his dark magic makes him a bad person. However, I don’t think that enough was done to address his past “crimes”. Within the first few chapters, it is revealed that Aedan has inadvertently killed three girls in the past due to his inability to control his fire, yet he ultimately neither comes to terms with this nor answers for it.

Maya also has some problems. While she initially seems to be a very strong protagonist, she also manages to get captured by the villains twice over the course of the story. Despite her years of training, she naturally needs to be rescued by Aedan in both of these instances. The fact that she spends much of the climax in chains also means that she does not have much of a role to play during the final battle. I also felt that Aedan and Maya’s relationship blossomed remarkably quickly. While I did appreciate that their attraction began as lust, rather than true love, they still seemed to become a couple over the space of a few short days. This was especially problematic given that Maya was supposed to be trying to find out if she needed to assassinate him. You would have thought that she would have been a bit more wary.

Beyond Aedan and Maya, the supporting cast were unfortunately a little weak. While the narrative informs us that the Circle and Scimitar exist in shades of grey, I did not feel this in the story. While the Circle can be a bit heavy-handed, they do overwhelmingly seem to be the good guys. Scimitar, on the other hand, is purely staffed by murderous psychopaths who are intent on destroying the world. I know who I would rather cast my lot with. Unfortunately, the generic nature of these two organisations made both of them rather forgettable.

All in all, I was unfortunately a bit underwhelmed by Flame and Fury. Although it was an easy read and contained some nice ideas, the novel lost my interest in its second act. While this isn’t one that I would really recommend, I am still a little curious to read on and see if things will pick up in the next instalment.

Flame and Fury can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook on Amazon.co.uk

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© Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kim Dyer and Arkham Reviews with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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