Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review - The Fire Chronicle (The Books of Beginning, Book 2) by John Stephens (4/5 stars)

Reading Level: Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy
Size: 448 pages
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 9, 2012
ISBN: 978-0375868719
Stand Alone or Series: 2nd book in the Books of Beginning series
Source: eGalley from
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is the second book in the Books of Beginning series by Stephens. It was an excellent continuation of the story started in the Emerald Atlas. Lots of action, battles, and time travel.

Kate, Michael, and Emma are at a new horrible orphanage. That is until the evil finds them there; then they are thrown into turmoil. Kate is thrust back in time by herself. Michael and Emma end up accompanying Pym on a quest to find the 2nd book of Beginning, The Fire Chronicle.

As with the first book this is a solid middle grade fantasy. You can tell Stephens was heavily influenced by Tolkien and the Chronicles of Narnia. There are epic battles, creepy flying black wraiths called Screechers, a wise old wizard, and a faithful fighter. Lots of classic epic fantasy type characters, which I enjoyed.

This book is mostly about Michael. In his quest to find The Fire Chronicle he has to face his fears and really step up to the challenge. He learns a lot about himself and his family along the way.

The book switches between Michael and Kate’s points of view. Michael is focused on traveling to find the Fire Chronicle. While Kate, in luring away the enemy, ends up trapped back in time.

Kate also grows a lot as a character. Some of the twists and turns she unravels in the past she is sent to are fascinating. We finally start to understand more about the Dire Magus and where he comes from and what drives him. It added a lot of excellent background to the story.

There are some wonderfully done epic battle scenes between dragons, elves, and imps. We are also sent back to the time before magic was separated from human existence and witness first hand the prosecution of magic users. The story was well written and did an excellent job progressing the storyline.

Despite all of the positive things about this story, for some reason it didn’t grab me like the first book. I found it interesting, but didn’t really find myself absolutely sucked into the story and engaged. Maybe that’s because parts of the story were incredibly predictable or just because I don’t relate to the characters all that well.

Overall an excellent continuation of this series. I loved the character development, the history we learn about the Books of Beginning, and the wonderful epic battles between mythological races. Despite all of this wonder, I didn’t find this book to be quite as engaging as the first one. This may have been because the story’s outcome was fairly predictable. Still this is an excellent middle grade fantasy involving time travel and lots of fantasy elements. Recommended to all the fantasy lovers out there.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- 150+ Books Reading Challenge

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