Fireblood: Did Not Finish

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fantasy and science fiction book reviewsFireblood by Jeff WheelerFireblood by Jeff Wheeler

I usually give books sent for me to review a lot more of a chance than books I pick up on my own, having some sense of obligation. And that was the case with Fireblood by Jeff Wheeler. According to my trusty Kindle, I read sixty-seven percent, giving it more than a week of picking it up and putting it down. Generally, if I can’t finish a book in two or three days, I know I’m having problems with it. So over a week and barely past halfway through, I decided to let this one go.

The story is set in a world visited regularly by devastating plagues. The first chapter, more of a prologue, shows us the tail end of an unsuccessful expedition into the Scourgelands in an attempt to end the plagues. The leader of the expedition, Tyrus, appears to be the sole survivor. Years later, Tyrus is involved once again in an attempt to stop the plagues, this time involving his nephew Anon, a Druidecht (yes, think “druid”); his niece Hettie, a Romani “Finder” with her own issues; and Paedrin, a warrior monk. Tyrus is clearly manipulating the three and withholding information, and it turns out he’s not the only one with hidden agendas and dark secrets. The story is further complicated by the opposition of the Arch-Rike, one of the most powerful rulers in this land, “Dark Druidecht,” and other plot points.

Without belaboring the point, my biggest problem was that nothing grabbed me. Fireblood opened up with a big of a bang, with that first expedition, a deadly attack, the unleashing of wild magic, and a personal sacrifice. But then the pace slowed greatly, with the story sort of meandering around from place to place, meeting to meeting, sometimes crisis to crisis. None of it, or at least too little of it,  had any sense of urgency or vividness and the plot complications seemed both overly convoluted and overly crafted, smacking too much of an author behind the curtain.

Besides the pallid, episodic nature of the plot, the characters also left a lot to be desired, feeling too much like they were playing their assigned novelistic roles (warrior monk, nature loving magic-user, arch-manipulator, etc.) rather than feeling like wholly formed people who existed prior to these events and will continue to exist beyond the book’s plot.

There were other issues as well: writing that was adequate at best and never captivating or startling, a few seeming contradictions in character, the old chestnut of people not having the conversations normal people would, a setting so vague and small in its presentation that I felt they were traipsing a neighborhood rather than an entire land, and some awkward dialogue.

Fireblood isn’t a horrible book, or even a bad one, by any means. But it never rose above mediocre for me in its craft elements and that, combined with what I found to be a dull mixture of plot and character, meant each step further in made it more and more difficult to justify taking the next one. Not recommended.

Whispers from Mirrowen — (2013- ) Publisher: Tyrus of Kenatos has made it his life’s work to banish the plagues that ravage the kingdoms. He believes the answer to ending the devastation lies in the Scourgelands. Yet, Tyrus’s first expedition into the cursed woods failed after being defeated by mysterious minions who stalked and killed most of his band. Now a prisoner in his own tower, Tyrus has summoned his nephew Annon — a Druidecht possessing innate magic called the fireblood — on the guise of finding a hidden treasure with which to purchase his twin sister Hettie’s freedom. But in reality, Tyrus is using his niece and nephew, and their magic, as an opportunity to escape and resume his desperate mission. And to aid them, he has enlisted the warrior-monk Paedrin — who is almost as green as the siblings when it comes to traveling these troubled lands. The trio is determined, and along the way they grow to trust each other — and new additions to the group — in order to accomplish their missions… whether or not those missions are one and the same. But the Arch-Rike — ruthless ruler of Kenatos — has learned of these plans, and has sent the fearsome Kishion to destroy all those that oppose him. Now Tyrus and his unwitting allies must face down not only the plague, but this new enemy — and fulfill their quest before a fresh horror is unleashed on the world…

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BILL CAPOSSERE, who’s been with us since June 2007, lives in Rochester NY, where he is an English adjunct by day and a writer by night. His essays and stories have appeared in Colorado Review, Rosebud, Alaska Quarterly, and other literary journals, along with a few anthologies, and been recognized in the “Notable Essays” section of Best American Essays. His children’s work has appeared in several magazines, while his plays have been given stage readings at GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Playhouse. When he’s not writing, reading, reviewing, or teaching, he can usually be found with his wife and son on the frisbee golf course or the ultimate frisbee field.

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3 comments

  1. It’s hard to take anything this reviewer says seriously when they don’t even understand how to review a book. I’m just thankful neither of my two books found their way onto this site as its obvious there is a fair amount of bias thrown in to this blatant summary disguised as a “review”. If you’re going to give a review you don’t write out the entire plot, characters and their backgrounds while doing so. A simple premise, a paragraph about the setting and a Poignant commentary on the book itself is not just preferred but necessary. This run on “review” is tedious to read and I only got through about 67 percent. Because it was just awful.

    • You might also want to let people know that there are spoilers in your awful review genius. For anyone who mistakenly comes to this insipid web page by accident and mistakenly the KS you have something intelligent to say.

      • Hi Nick,
        We all have our disagreements on books, and maybe you liked this one (though you don’t mention reading it), but you might consider choosing phrasing in the future to better reflect our preference for respectful/civil engagement. To be honest, I don’t quite understand some of your complaints–I’m not sure what a “blatant” summary is or the requirement that commentary be “poignant,” and the only spoiler I can figure out you might mean is my reference to the prologue, which, well, is a prologue. In any case, I normally wouldn’t respond since as noted, we all have our preferences, but I confess you piqued my curiosity as to what “bias” you think is displayed here? You think I have something against the author?

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