Goldenfire by AFE Smith (No.2 Darkhaven series)

Goldenfire.jpgGoldenfire is the second in the Darkhaven series by A F E Smith.  This was a great second book in series, I really enjoyed it, in fact on reflection I think it surpassed the first in terms of growth of characters and world building.

Darkhaven is, and has always been, ruled by the Nightshades – a family that through the generations has  been able to shapeshift.   Unfortunately over the years the Nightshade line has diminished leaving the City in a vulnerable position in terms of those who would seek to make war.

A quick note: I will try to avoid spoilers for book No.1 but undoubtedly they will creep into this review so please be aware of that if you haven’t yet started the series.

At the start of Goldenfire Ayla has been ruling Darkhaven for three years.  She’s more confident in her abilities now and the relationship she shares with Tomas Caraway, her ‘hero’ from book No.1 and now Captain of the Helm, is a tentative but happy one.  However, their tranquility is about to be upset.  An assassination plot has come to light and given the discovery (from the first book) of a weapon that can harm the Nightshades this threat needs to be taken very seriously.

The story this time breaks down into a number of strands.  We have Tomas rushing around trying to cover every base in terms of threat.  Ayla is spending time trying to increase her own fighting prowess and also looking into further ways to protect herself using alchemy.  We have the reintroduction of Sorrow, an assassin and sellsword who is working for a member of the Brotherhood – a secretive, powerful and very dangerous group of individuals.  And then we have a number of new recruits who have signed up for Helms training and are being put through their paces.  I confess that I loved this aspect of the story.

Fairly early on in the story we are introduced to the assassin – or at least when I say introduced, we are made a party to the assassin being sent to kill Alya.  What we are not told is that person’s identity.

At the same time we then make the acquaintance of the latest recruits and we follow a number of these as they go about training.  I really enjoyed this aspect of the story.  We have two females who enter the programme for the first time in Darkhaven history – so as you can imagine that causes something of a stir and it was very interesting to observe their interaction with the other recruits and each other.  I really like what the author achieves here.  We follow these recruits and sometimes we are also in the head of the assassin – but we never know who it is – particularly as there is another new character introduced at the same time.  An alchemist who is assisting Alya with her experimentation.  Of course it’s easy to jump to conclusions but I think the author does an excellent job of maintaining the secrecy right up to the point that the assassination is about to go down.

What I particularly liked about Goldenfire:  I thought Alya grows more as a character.  She understands a little more of the difficulty of keeping control and the difficulties involved in ruling Darkhaven.  At the same time she has greatly improved in terms of her own confidence and abilities and is able to maintain a loving relationship with Tomas – although she’s very cool towards the nephew that they are both now raising.  You can forgive her a little for her coolness because she still mourns her brother and seeing his son everyday is something of a huge reminder.  I liked that we find a little bit more about the background of Darkhaven and in particular the city itself and how it came to be built. I thought the introduction of alchemy to help Alya discover more about her latent talents was also a great move.

The other thing that really stood out for me was the pace.  The story kicks off with a great start and from there onwards maintains a very steady pace really picking up the momentum in the last few chapters.

In terms of criticisms – well, the only thing that does occur to me is how well one person could really be relied upon to protect the City?  I mean, obviously there is an army, but for the most part everyone seems to think Alya is the main form of protection and whilst her ‘other’ form is very strong – there’s only one of her.  I don’t really understand that particular aspect, especially now times are moving forward, we’ve already seen the threat of guns and there’s no denying that Darkhaven is under threat from it’s neighbours.  It feels like the City needs to evolve and move with the times if it’s to prevent downfall.

Other than the above minor quibble I thought this was a really entertaining read.  I found myself really caring for the characters and I enjoyed the introduction of the recruits and watching their development.  On top of this we get to watch Sorrow’s exploits – and she’s always very entertaining and, of course, we have the shapeshifting – don’t let’s forget the flying unicorn in all this!

Again, I think this is a perfect set up for the next in series and I really look forward to seeing where the author takes us next.

I received a copy of Goldenfire through the publishers courtesy of Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

 

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10 Responses to “Goldenfire by AFE Smith (No.2 Darkhaven series)”

  1. Tammy

    Glad you enjoyed it! I have this slated for this month as well. I’m always a little worried about second books, but sounds like there is nothing to worry about:-)

    • @lynnsbooks

      I’m also always a little worried about second books but I really enjoyed this. It is completely different in some respects – which I really enjoyed – I really liked the whole recruit/training idea that was inserted here. I look forward to seeing what you make of it.
      Lynn 😀

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    This series sounds fascinating, and it’s totally new to me, since it’s the first time I hear about it, but I’m certainly going to add it to my “buy next” list. Thank you! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Great – I hope you enjoy it. I thought the first was very intriguing – the second surpassed it for me.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    I still have the first book to read – I remember the beautiful cover with the winged unicorn and when I saw all the great reviews for it, I had to pick up a copy. Glad to hear the sequel rocked too, I’ll be keeping my eye out for that now 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      I actually, on balance, thought this book was better than the first. I liked the whole assassination storyline and the helms recruits story that ran through it. It was very entertaining.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Sharry

    Guns and alchemy and flying unicorns, too? Why haven’t I heard of this, until now?? 😀

    • @lynnsbooks

      I really enjoyed it, I’m sometimes worried about second in series but no need for such doubts with this one.
      Lynn 😀

  5. January: My Month in Review | Books and travelling with Lynn

    […] Goldenfire (Darkhaven No.2) by A F E Smith […]

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