In the First Era, before Kaliel and Krishani fell in love, Tor runs. He escapes the Land of Kings and the tyrannical Valtanyana. In the depths of Tempia he forges weapons– The Flames– strong enough to oppose the Kings he betrayed.
Aria, The Amethyst Flame, cannot touch the living or the dead and her kin are silent ghosts. Hidden in a cairn deep in the haunted forest, Aria becomes obsessed with the Ferryman, the only boy who can feel her touch.
Before Aria knows it, The Flames, The Ferryman and Tor are swept up in the first war against the Valtanyana.
Blurb and cover from Goodreads
5 out of 5 stars
This is one of those series that I fixate over and can’t really put my finger on why. Maybe it’s the reshaping/mixing of mythologies, the transcendent romance, the sheer originality, or the swords and sorcery, but this is a series I haven’t been able to forget and I expect I will be following it to the very end.
This gives the backstory on Kaliel and Krishani’s first life when they fell in love for the first time. It was a quick, succinct read that was still long enough to get to know and care about the characters, even if I hadn’t read the full length novels. There were quite a few “oh, that’s what they were talking about in book one/two” moments, but I think this is a book that can be enjoyed without reading Surrender or Justice.
It was interesting to see how Aria, or Kaliel, has always been different, even when she was first created, even among the other Flames. Despite her sweetness, she still stuck up for her fellow Flames when it came to Tor and was very brave. She was innocent to the point of naiveté and it made me cringe because I knew what was going to happen to her in this life and I really didn’t want it to.
Kallow, the Ferryman, first makes his appearance as an aloof, somewhat detached skeleton. Yes, a skeleton. The first one or two scenes had me wondering “how is this her Krishani?” but then we learn more about who the Ferryman serves and the rules he had to follow and everything makes sense. Kallow proved to be much more feeling and caring than his introduction would have you believe and if I hadn’t known they’d be reborn and find each other again, the ending would have broken me into tiny, teary pieces.
Some people might say Aria and Kallow—or Krishani and Kaliel—had insta-love. While this is sort of true, it makes sense for them to fall in love the first time because they had each never met someone so akin to themselves and makes sense the second time because they’ve already fallen in love a first time.
I think Tor was very different here than in the later books. Which there’s a few thousand years gap, so that’s understandable, but I thought he was much more sympathetic and perhaps less jaded here. He had a problem when it came to viewing the Flames as weapons, not sentient beings, but meant well and I couldn’t really fault him for that.
On a side note, it was strange to see Klavotesi, the Obsidian Flame, supporting Aria/Kaliel when he came across as such a jerk in Justice. I may have to rethink my opinion of him, but that will have to wait until I finally get to read Vulture.
Imagine a villain of the caliber of Tolkien’s Sauron, multiply it by twelve and you have Valtanyana. They are excellent classical villains bent on total domination of the cosmos who only needed Tor’s help to succeed. They were such good baddies that inspire dread, fear, dislike, but you can’t really hate.
I recommend this book to not only fans of the series or people wanting to try it, but anyone looking for an untraditional take on mythology, but if you want HEA, you won’t find it here.