Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review - Fireborn: Embers of Atlantic by Tracy Hickman (3/5 stars)

Fireborn: Embers of AtlantisReading level: Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 304 pages
Publisher:  Fantasy Flight Games
Release Date: August 30, 2011
ISBN:  978-1616611002
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone?
Source: Review copy from publisher
Rating: 3/5 stars

I got a copy of this book from Fantasy Flight Games in exchange for an honest review.  I have previously read a number of books by Tracy Hickman  (Deathgate Cycle, Darksword, Rose of the Prophet, and some Dragonlance) and enjoyed them.  So I was eager to read his latest work.  The book was okay; it presents a very interesting world...but the characters are lackluster and some of the storyline a bit contrived.

Ethan Gallows is a cameraman in a world gone mad.  Things are falling apart and magic is real.  When he goes along with a reporter to London to film an art show he runs into a powerful woman named Sojourner who wants Ethan to come with her.  Ethan wants nothing to do with magic, but when he finds he may actually be one of three scions left in the world who is hosting a dragon he may not have a choice.  If the world is to be saved, Karma increased, and the Taint reduced, then Ethan will have to live up to his potential.

There were some things I really like about this story.  I enjoyed the scenes in the past of how Atlantis fell; these were interesting and engaging.  I enjoyed the crazy, nearly post-apocalyptic type world that Ethan live in.  You never knew what to expect in this world; there was crazy magic, zombies, monsters...it was just completely unpredictable.  

The action scenes were also well done.  I loved the idea of Taint and Karma fighting to make the world evil or good and enjoyed how the balance could be shifted.

There was a lot that could have used some improvement too.  The characters were okay, but not very engaging.  The best of the bunch was the CNN reporter; she was spunky, an absolute mystery, and fun to read about.  Ethan was too dour to be all that interesting and engaging of a character.
Although I enjoyed the unpredictability of the world, because of the lack of description I had trouble picturing it at times.  I would have enjoyed more description and a little more explanation as to why the world was the way it was.

The constant switching between the historical scenes at Atlantis and the current day scenes in London, was somewhat awkward and interrupted the flow of the story making it hard to stay engaged in the story.  There were also a couple of plot points that were just weird.  For example there is a fight scene on the subway that for some reason is told from the recording camera's perspective....I didn't understand why.  It would have been better to tell it from one of the character's perspectives, hearing it as a camera recording was just awkward and strange.

Also towards the end there is a prolonged section where out characters encounter Nazi zombies...I was left at a total loss as to why.  It didn't add anything to the story, was contrived, and again awkward to read.

Overall this is an okay book.  I loved the world created here and enjoyed the idea of balancing Karma and Taint.  I also enjoyed the history about Atlantis and how dragons were involved.  The action scenes are very well done too.  Unfortunately I did not like the characters, had a hard time picturing parts of the world created, and thought that the storyline didn't flow very well.  Additionally there are a couple scenes in the book that feel contrived and don't really add much to the story, they are just awkward.  This does appear to be the first in a series starring Ethan and crew.  I probably won't be reading future installments in this series because I just didn't find the characters and story engaging enough.

This goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 100+ Reading Challenge

Fireborn: Embers of Atlantis

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