Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod! Raymond E. Feist has not only released a new book, but it is the start of a brand new series! As a connoisseur of all things Riftwar, Midkemia, and Kelewan, I am astounded to find that this new series is a whole new setting! King Of Ashes is the first novel in The Firemane Saga which takes place on the world of Garn. This takes epic to all new levels, as Feist’s previous setting is rich with depth beyond the norm. Will this new world match up to 30 books and 35 years of storytelling? We shall see!
The initial introduction to this fierce new world comes in the form of betrayal and sorrow. A shadow has settled over the once-peaceful world, a darkness that stems from the greed of man. And though we are appalled at the story as it plays out, it is merely the stage for a greater tale. One that unfolds ever so slowly, surprising not just the reader but shocking the characters as well.
Two primary tales unwind themselves before us. One is of a simple but skilled blacksmith, Declan. A foundling, he has attained abilities at the forge that few can lay claim to, perfecting his craft and becoming a master of his trade. A man with no true history to recall, he decides to forge that, as well, by seeking his future far from home. Declan is, by no fault of his own, well traveled. His knowledge of the world beyond his village is sketchy and comes from passersby and friends. Nonetheless, he sees his future on the horizon. Who he is and what he will be has yet to be discovered. His story, like that of the next protagonist, is still a mystery.
The second storyline is based around a fiery-haired young man named Hatu, a young man who is training at a school devoted to creating the perfect criminals. These members of the kingdom of Night not only run the criminal enterprises around the world, but they also handle most of the assassinations, too. In fact, they are known to be able to get into impregnable buildings in order to perform these murders, making them not only highly sought after but also feared by people of all walks of life. But there are layers of society that Hatu is discovering, his natural curiosity and intelligence lead him down some dangerous paths that endanger more than just his life.
This novel is merely a drop in the proverbial bucket; from the prologue to the final chapter this book is about beginnings. The build up is ongoing, creating suspense and feeding the reader’s curiosity. Trials, tribulations, love, anger. All of this is encompassed by an overarching need to find out just what part everyone plays in this epic fantasy. But, as with all things, patience is needed, for this is only the first book and there is much yet to reveal. I eagerly await the next in the series. Impatiently, but eagerly.
The true magic in this book is not the plot that moves forward with twists and turns, weaving a tapestry of intrigue and wonder, but rather the world itself. The one thing that has always made Feist stand above his peers is his ability to create a background so detailed, so seemingly real, that it almost feels like you are walking alongside the characters, experiencing everything they do. The people, the towns, even the food and drink come alive when he writes. How else could one world support such a myriad of stories and characters rife with personalities that echo through the decades. Because make no mistake, the adventures of Pug and Tomas are as ingrained in my mind today as they were when I read them in the early ’80s.
I was taken aback by this novel. I often find myself unable to connect to a new world when a longtime author introduces them. But this was like coming home again. The writing style is more refined than in those early books but the flair remains. The energy that flows from page to page is almost palpable. It engages the reader on a cerebral level, but woven within these well crafted sentences is a passion that connects the author to the reader, enabling us to see his vision, albeit each in our own way. Not only can I recommend this book wholeheartedly, I plan to gift it to a few longtime friends if they have yet to purchase it. I hope you enjoy this and all the sequels to come; I have no doubt they will exceed even my expectations.
The first volume in legendary master and New York Times bestselling author Raymond E. Feist’s epic heroic fantasy series, The Firemane Saga””an electrifying tale of two young men whose choices will determine a world’s destiny.
For centuries, the five greatest kingdoms of North and South Tembria, twin continents on the world of Garn, have coexisted in peace. But the balance of power is destroyed when four of the kingdoms violate an ancient covenant and betray the fifth: Ithrace, the Kingdom of Flames, ruled by Steveren Langene, known as “the Firemane” for his brilliant red hair. As war engulfs the world, Ithrace is destroyed and the Greater Realms of Tembria are thrust into a dangerous struggle for supremacy.
As a Free Lord, Baron Daylon Dumarch owes allegiance to no king. When an abandoned infant is found hidden in Daylon’s pavilion, he realizes that the child must be the missing heir of the slain Steveren. The boy is valuable””and vulnerable. A cunning and patient man, Daylon decides to keep the baby’s existence secret, and sends him to be raised on the Island of Coaltachin, home of the so-called Kingdom of Night, where the powerful and lethal Nocusara, the “Hidden Warriors,” legendary assassins and spies, are trained.
Years later, another orphan of mysterious provenance, a young man named Declan, earns his Masters rank as a weapons smith. Blessed with intelligence and skill, he unlocks the secret to forging King’s Steel, the apex of a weapon maker’s trade known by very few. Yet this precious knowledge is also deadly, and Declan is forced to leave his home to safeguard his life. Landing in Lord Daylon’s provinces, he hopes to start anew.
Soon, the two young men””an unknowing rightful heir to a throne and a brilliantly talented young swordsmith””will discover that their fates, and that of Garn, are entwined. The legendary, long-ago War of Betrayal has never truly ended . . . and they must discover the secret of who truly threatens their world.