Today I’m very pleased to be taking part in the final leg of a blog tour for James Bennett”s debut novel ‘Chasing Embers’. The start of a new fantasy series that brings a fascinating twist to the stories and myths of old.
My review follows:
Chasing Embers certainly gets off to a very promising start, in fact you barely crack the book open before there’s an explosion of action that leaves you anxious to read quickly on. I’m not sure how many books are planned but I can see that this has the makings of a very entertaining urban fantasy series where a world of mythology lives alongside our modern world and a whole host of fantasy creatures hide in plain sight.
Basically, and without giving away too much of the plot, long, long ago an ancient pact was formed between the fantastical beasts that roamed the earth and the humans. This pact was formed to prevent large scale war and bloodshed and the stipulations of the pact must be closely observed in order for it to remain intact. I’m being a little bit mysterious here because you need to discover the history as you read. Anyhow, at the start of the story, our central character, Ben, finds himself in a couple of close encounters that leave him seriously questioning whether or not the agreement still stands and with his life under threat he finds himself in a desperate chase, following in the wake (or embers) of another creature that could threaten the fragile peace of the world.
I enjoyed Chasing Embers, its a very ambitious first book in series but it’s a very well researched story that encompasses many different myths and religions and takes us on a fantastical flight of fancy round the globe from New York to London to Egypt. Yes, there are a few old tropes that pop up but there are also a few unexpected twists that bring something new to the scene.
In terms of the writing I enjoyed the authors style. I’m not going to deny that he has a descriptive or wordy approach but this is a style that I sometimes enjoy although I can see that it maybe slows the pace down a little or, more accurately, it’s not something you will be able to race through. A book to savour methinks!
I mentioned above that the story is quite ambitious. There’s a fairly detailed plot going on here and whilst at first this may just seem to be a bunch of fantasy creatures holding a grudge the actual main theme is much more in depth with a lot of world building and history to be threaded into the story. Yes, there are dragons, witches and ‘others’ but also thrown in for good measure are Gods!
So, to the characters. The main star of the show is Ben Garson, previously known as Red Ben for that is the colour of his scales when he is in his true form. Ben is a dragon. He now walks amongst us in human form and for the past few hundred years his nature has remained mostly hidden, but scratch the surface hard enough and his real character will reveal itself. I think Ben is a fascinating character. He’s not one that you will immediately like perhaps but he’s incredibly complicated. He spends a good deal of time, for example, feeling a bit sorry for himself and wallowing around in self pity but let’s not forget he has a long and detailed past with plenty that he would probably sooner forget! On top of this he has to deal with his basic dragon instincts in a world where damsels in distress don’t really exist and flares of temper will put you into anger management classes. Ben is an ancient creature living in a modern world and is still struggling to adapt. He’s flawed and he certainly makes mistakes as he rushes headlong into situations without really considering the outcome. Rose is Ben’s on and off girlfriend. She doesn’t really know what it is that makes Ben different but she does know that there’s definitely something. Von Blaise is a very amusing character. A member of the fey he has a certain flair for dramatic entrances and I hope for much more from this character in further instalments.
Criticisms. I think that my main comments relate mainly to this being a first in series. I need more time to form real attachments to the characters and also to feel that the world is firmly established but this will develop as the series progresses. I would also point out that the author isn’t shy in terms of painting vivid fight scenes so bear that in mind if you’re maybe a bit squeamish. And finally, in terms of the world building. Bennett has managed to fit a lot into this first book. You could argue that maybe he’s tried to cover too much ground for a first in series and maybe in that respect their is a tendency to info dump a little but I think this was quite well blended in using stories and museum talks and the like.
On the whole I think this is an impressive debut and I definitely look forward to reading the next instalment.
For more information about the author:
James Bennett is a British writer born in Loughborough and raised in Sussex, South Africa and Cornwall. His travels have furnished him with an abiding love of different cultures, history and mythology. He’s had several short stories published internationally and Chasing Embers is his debut fantasy novel. James currently lives in west Wales and draws inspiration from long walks, deep forests and old stones . . . and also the odd bottle of wine.
Finally. Don’t forget to visit the other blogs mentioned above where you can read reviews, interviews and guest posts.
“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Every Wednesday we get to highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to. My book this week is : Gilded Cage (Dark Gifts #1) by Vic James
For readers of Victoria Aveyard and George RR Martin comes a darkly fantastical debut set in a modern England where magically gifted aristocrats rule and commoners are doomed to serve.
NOT ALL ARE FREE.
NOT ALL ARE EQUAL.
NOT ALL WILL BE SAVED.
Our world belongs to the Equals—aristocrats with magical gifts—and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.
A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.
Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?
A boy dreams of revolution.
Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.
And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.
He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?
Due February 2017
Every Tuesday over at the The Broke and Bookish we all get to look at a particular topic for discussion and use various (or more to the point ten) examples to demonstrate that particular topic. The topic this week is :
Books on my autumn reading list
Nice and easy this week: these are my next scheduled books:
- Chasing Embers by James Bennett
- The Family Plot by Cherie Priest
- Summerlong by Peter S Beagle
- A Deadly Affection by Cuyler Overholt
- The Thorn of Emberlain by Scott Lynch
- The Witches of New York by Ami McKay
- A City Dreaming by Daniel Polansky
- The Apothecary’s Curse by Barbara Barnett
- Faithful by Alice Hoffman
- Congress of Secrets by Stephanie Burgis
Today is the final week of our readalong for One Salt Sea. I’m seriously loving this series and really loving sharing thoughts with others. I’m a bit late this week as I’m out of the country so apologies for the tardiness. Also due to lack of IT I’m not including all the links and finer detail but even so, please feel free to join in with the comments. Also a bit of an apology for any mistakes!
This week’s questions are courtesy of Anya at On Starships and Dragonwings, and will cover chapter 30 to the end of the book. Please beware of Spoilers because they will be lurking.
We find out a few tidbits about the Luidaeg’s abilities in this section, including a limit to her power when fighting Raysel. What do you think of these developments? Makes sense or an easy way of keeping Luidaeg out of some battles?
I guess in one respect this feels like a very easy plot tool. The Luidaeg can’t get involved because… but on the other foot if the Luidaeg could get involved every time that Toby gets into bother then there would be no suspense or drama because we would naturally expect her to rush in and defend Toby. So, whilst I think this is something of an obvious plot device I also can’t really fault it because it seems completely necessary. Otherwise this wouldn’t be the Toby Daye series but the Luidaeg series. And, as much as I like the Luidaeg I don’t want that to happen here (although a spin off surely couldn’t hurt!)
Gillian has to make the Changeling’s Choice. What did you think she would choose and how do you think her choice will affect the future books? Do you think we’ll see anymore of her?
To be honest I expected her to choose the life she is used to and comfortable with. Two things. Her introduction to the supernatural was hardly likely to entice her and her father has been her grounding influence (as sad as that may seem for Toby – she didn’t ask to be turned into a fish after all). What will happen in the series in this respect remains to be seen. It seems to me that there’s always the possibility of Toby’s enemies using Gillian as a means to an end. Part of me wonders if she might come to wonder more about her choices but even though I think that it does seem that her decision was final.
Connor😦. How do you feel about the conclusion to his life and what this means for Toby’s life going forward?
Well. I had very mixed feelings really. I admit that Connor wasn’t my favourite. But. On the other side of that I always felt kind of a bit sad for him. I don’t think Toby should have ever started back up with him, it just felt too much like a comfort zone type of affair, and so because, for me at least, it felt wrong it felt almost inevitable that he would come to a sticky end. And what an ending! Saving Gillian! But then to die simply because the arrow had been left in too long. How incredibly sad and even more so because it was Toby making the choice about who to save and as much as it was inevitably going to be Gillian that still must make her feel enormously guilty.
There are a lot of questions that Toby lists are the end: “What was the shallowing in Muir Woods? What did the Luidaeg mean when she told Elizabeth the bill was almost due? Who was Arden, and why would a shallowing care if she was alive?” Any ideas for any of them
I confess I don’t know what to make of it all and need some time to digest it. Such a lot of ideas particularly regarding the Luidaeg. This one year ultimatum is obvioulsy linked to her helping the selkies originally. They must have had some sort of pact and obviously nothing is free. What they’re expected to pay back though I have no idea. Bring on the next book says I.
Friday Firsts is a new meme that runs every Friday over on Tenacious Reader. The idea is to feature the first few sentences/paragraph of your current book and try and outline your first impressions as a result. This is a quick and easy way to share a snippet of information about your current read and to perhaps tempt others. Stop on by and link up with Tenacious Reader.
‘“We’re ready, Captain.”
The anxiety in Pollard’s eyes belied his words. A sheen of sweat glistened under the edges of his helm, and he clutched his spear in a white-knuckled grip. He might have been marching into battle against a horde of bloodhound thralls instead of preparing to walk down the burnished hall of the royal apartments.’
My First Impressions
What are you reading right now? Did it start out strong? Feel free to join in.