I received this book for review after reading and reviewing the first book, The Raie'Chaelia. I was looking forward to seeing what was next in the series and what would happen to the main characters and I wasn't disappointed. It was a great read and so glad that I decided to carry on with the series. The author, Melissa Douthit (website) has written a fantasy story to be proud of and has obviously grown stronger in her writing because this book was so good!
Here's my review of The Firelight of Maalda:
4/5 - Great book! Couldn't put it down.
The Firelight of Maalda was a complete and utter surprise. Compared to the first book, The Raie’Chaelia (review here) this book was 10 times better, with the writing style more evolved and the characters more relatable. The story and foundations of the tale seemed more original with new information being fed to us, filling us in on all of the important stuff that we really needed to know. Questions were answered that completely confused me in the previous book and helped me look at the whole tale in a different light. The characters were stronger, the story much more focused and there was a great balance between action and adventure within the book. I really enjoyed this book and was glued to the story, turning each page with anticipation.
I really enjoyed the whole concept of the secret city of Portalis. The hub of the rebellion, it is a place of grandeur filled with secrets. The dystopian element of the whole story is really interesting and I loved reading about the former world as they know it. Without spoiling the story too much, there are hints at an apocalyptic ending to the former world (our world) that made me think of the Mayan prophecy and other such doomsday predictions. I thought that very current issues such as global warming and warfare were discussed in the story with the unnatural destructiveness of man obliterating the former world forcing its surviving inhabitants to retreat underground. Over thousands and thousands of years those survivors evolved eventually becoming the inhabitants of the world depicted in the story. I didn’t find that it was too preachy at all but fitted in well with the current issues of our time, blending the mix of fantasy and reality very well. Strange objects of the former world are revealed to us and the characters. I haven’t really read anything similar to his before, reading mainly epic fantasy in a totally new and different world so this dystopian fantasy was new to me. I did giggle at times when I read how strange such objects as a car and a lightbulb was to the characters, when its just an everyday commodity to us.
And one comment that I made in my review of the previous book can be completely taken back! I commented on how the dialogue didn’t suit the story but the dialogue is explained in detail in the book, commenting on how certain words and colloquialisms have survived from the former world, so it doesn’t seem so out of place anymore. I’m trying to get my head around the fact that this is an evolved world from ours so things still remain such as objects, dialogue etc.
In this book no one can question how strong a character Chalice is. She is in no way a damsel in a distress, and in this book her independent character is reflected in her straightforward actions. She is adamant in ignoring all of the rules that restrict her freedom, and wishes for a life free of rules and responsibility. And most of all she dreams of a life with Jeremiah, her friend and lover; but rules state that a romance between the two is simply out of order. I hope that this somehow won’t come to pass in the next book and that they will be able to be together; but who knows! Finally realising her destiny she knows that she is in danger but her selfless personality shines through and she will do anything, and I mean anything to ensure the safety of her friends and her people. I just loved that I was reading a book with a strong central female character that didn’t have to rely on others too much to survive. She is the first to jump into battle (helped by her very awesome powers) and she can show a battle heartened warrior or two how a successful warrior should really fight. She is determined to change numerous rules deemed completely pointless by her, and is adamant that when she finally releases her father from his eternal captivity she will ensure that Naeons are treated fairly within the world. She is one kick ass woman and she completely made this book a success with me.
There’s also Jeremiah who has completely stolen my heart. He would die for Chalice and this is evident in his caring actions. Their love for each other grows and grows throughout each page and the heartache of knowing that they can never really be together is put to the back of their minds as they share the time that they have together. Buney is also extremely cute yet again in the book, and Ben is revealed as a caring father figure in Chalice’s life. I thought the characters had grown a lot since the previous book, and were made much stronger and more relatable. Great characterisation by the author.
The reason why I didn’t give it a complete five stars is just because it wasn’t epic enough for me to be totally invested in the story. I don’t mean that I wasn’t interested because I read the book within two days wanting to know what was going to happen to Chalice and in what direction the story was going to take me. I’m enjoying branching out into different types of fantasy such as this, but I still find that its aimed for readers of young adult fiction which isn’t totally for me, personally. But if this second book is anything to go by then the author is going from strength to strength and I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of the third instalment in the series. A good, fast paced, enjoyable read with plenty of action and adventure. Well worth the read.