There is a saying you have probably heard before: “never judge a book by its cover”. Well, I have heard it too but I always thought that its meaning was planned to be metaphorical, not literal. When I saw Fireblood’s cover I liked it so much I decided I was going to read that book. Two weeks later I don’t know whether to admire or to hate the cover designer, the only thing I know is that love is definitely not in the mix.

FB

Strong Points: the lore.

Weak Points: Story development, character development and over explanation.

Fireblood, written by Jeff Wheeler, brings us to a continent which is ravaged by a mysterious magical plague once every generation, decimating its population and leaving civilization on the brink of disappearance every time it strikes. The independent city of Kenatos, built by the joint efforts of every kingdom with the aim to create a place where all knowledge can be stored, has become a beacon of hope for all the races and is ruled by the Arch-rike and his rikes and Paracelsus. Now Paracelsus Tyrus, who failed in his quest to end the plague years ago, is trying to get support for a second expedition and his web will trap a group of unlikely heroes who will become the only hope to end the vicious cycle that the mortal races are trapped in. But in the Arch-Rike’s court no everyone is who they seem to be and soon the lives of everyone in the group will be endangered.

This is the basis of the plot of Fireblood and, in my opinion, it could have made for a story full of potential and unforgettable moments. Sadly, by the time you have managed to end the first three chapters the only thing you will be looking forward to are the small paragraphs at the beginning of each chapter which contain the lore of the world that Mr. Wheeler has created. Once you have finished it you will have read the best part of the chapter. The lore that the author has developed around the world he has created is complex, deep and alluring and helps us to understand the whole situation of what is happening from the point of view of an archivist of the city of Kenatos. These paragraphs are full of subtlety and, even when we know for a fact that the archivist is wrong, we can still find small clues about what is really happening.

Then you keep reading the chapter and you think “what the hell happened with the subtlety and the complex and wonderful world the author promises me in every chapter?” Well, your parents promised you a fat, white bearded man was going to bring you presents every Christmas and look how that turned up, this is very much the same case-scenario.

The story becomes a chaotic, badly pasted puzzle full of overused clichés and random events that would have worked in a RPG, but definitely not in a novel. That’s how it feels, that the author just kept throwing dices to decide what was going to happen next and didn’t bother to double-check the result to see if it made sense. There is not a construction towards a climax simply because there is not climatic event in the whole novel making this a slow and dense read. Finally, whenever a conflict appears that the group doesn’t know how to solve suddenly the author brings forward a new rule or just decides that one of the characters has a skill or magical hability which hasn’t been named before and that is perfect for the situation at hand. The story isn’t interesting because you know that the heroes will always overcome the odds without effort; they are too perfect and complement each other too well to keep the reader turning pages for any other reason than to finish the book.

The characters and their development don’t fare any better: Annon, who is introduced to us as a guy with anger issues, can control his anger quite well and is probably the calmest person in the whole group. Paendrin is wise, young, handsome and one of the best warriors of the kingdoms, he is also boring and doesn’t evolve in the whole book. Hettie is an unbearable spoiled brat which is introduced as fiercely independent but, just as Annon is as calm as a Buddhist monk who has reached Nirvana, she is useless and does everything her brother tells her to do. That’s it, these are the characters and that’s the way they stay for the whole book; no change, no evolution whatsoever neither in their relationships nor in their ways of life.

Over explanation is everywhere in this book and, at least for me, it kills the few good moments it may have, such as the twist concerning Hettie’s intentions which then the author proceeds to use a whole chapter to describe; meaning he repeats his explanation over and over again until the reader feels tempted to throw the book out of the window. Everything is explained, you know all the possibilities and, therefore, the book contains no mystery as it makes its way towards a predictable and uninteresting ending.

As you may have guessed, I haven’t enjoyed this book much and I am not ready to recommend it. Of course this is an opinion and I may have become a little pickier after reading The Postmortals, but Fireblood has been a huge let down almost from the first page, tempting me many times to put it down and forget about it. On the other hand, I have heard that it is probably the worst book written by the author so I will probably check more books from Mr. Wheeler in the future.

FINAL SCORE: 2/10

¡Hasta la próxima!

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