#SPFBO 8 Finalist Friday: Review of Fire of the Forebears by LA Buck


What is SPFBO 8 Check out Mark Lawrence’s post here to look at this year’s entrants, judges and allocations list.

This year I am teaming up again with the ladies from The Critiquing Chemist.  We recently announced our finalist. To check out all the Finalists simply follow this link.

Our finalist this year was Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson – if you haven’t read it – I highly recommend it – seriously, grab yourself a copy and tuck in. It’s positively delightful.

Today is our seventh finalist review for #SPFBO 8.  Reviews for Scales and Sensibility, The Thirteenth Hour, Tethered Spirits,  Mysterious Ways, A Song for the Void and The Umbral Storm can be found here here, here, herehere and here  Myself and the Critiquing Chemist will be posting a finalist review every Friday for the remainder of the competition.

So, to my seventh review for a book that brings to us some solid world building and epic old school style fantasy.


Before I even begin to talk about the plot or other elements of Fire of the Forebears I would mention the one thing that became increasingly clear to me as I read this story, and that’s the author’s obvious literary loves and the influence they have had on the imagination and world building in this book.  Tolkien and Lewis immediately spring to mind and you’ll understand why if you choose to give this one a shot as their influence shines through in a lovely way.

As I mentioned above this is old school epic fantasy, a tale of the underdog rising up to defeat tyranny.  We have two key players whose pov chapters help us to see things from both sides of the coin and, of course, we have a ‘chosen one’ and a prophecy to boot.

To be totally honest FofF didn’t totally work for me and I wonder how much of that is related to the way that my reading tastes have changed over the years.  I do seem to have less patience for longer books these days but I did give this one a fair chance  to work it’s magic and in that respect I’m glad I decided to have a short break from this and return at a later date.

What I can say is that the author has written a fascinating world with plenty of winning elements. The themes of good vs evil run strongly throughout.  We have talking animals, some which seem to have chosen a darker path and more power and others that try to live their lives with dignity and respect.  Similarly, although I wouldn’t say I have a strong idea of how the magic works, there are definitely what I would call dark magic (elements of necromancy, for example) compared to the more pure elemental forms.  In terms of the talking animals, this is risky for me as I think I associate this with a much younger audience although the author does a good job of integrating her different species and giving them a strong foothold in this world.

The characters.  Kura and Triston.  Kura and her family live a life of fear.  Constantly on the lookout for the approach of soldiers, they are part of a rising rebellion although they’re going to become much more embroiled than they would like.  Triston is the son of a King, he is in charge of getting this brewing rebellion under control and strives hard to please his father.  What I really liked about these two opposing views is that the story is a little more rounded, not everything is always as clear cut as it first appears and to be fair to both characters they’re not so stubborn that they can’t be won over by a fair argument.  There are plenty of side characters along the way but I won’t try to highlight them here.

In terms of those areas that didn’t work quite so well for me.  Well, the two central characters didn’t really win me over.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike them, but equally I wouldn’t say that I had strong feelings for them and this lessens the tension, particularly during fight sequences.  That brings me to my next issue which is the disparity between the two povs.  Kura’s chapters involve a lot of fight sequences, it just felt a little relentless and almost to the point that I just wanted to slow down and spend a bit of time with the characters.  Trison’s chapters on the other hand felt positively staid by comparison and yet I found myself looking forward to them.  Also, although I think the world building is good I would say that there is a lot to unload here, different factions, animals, magics, good and bad (all with different names), etc.  Helpfully there is a glossary at the back of the book, but flipping back and forth in the earlier stages, to check out definitions doesn’t help you to feel absorbed and definitely slows the read down.

Overall, in spite of some reservations I’m pleased that I pushed on with this after a slight blip during the first third.  If you like old school epic fantasy with a slightly more modern tone then this could be the book for you.

Our rating 6 of 10 stars

Don’t forget to check out the Critiquing Chemist’s review which can be found here.