By: Jordan Rivet
Reviewed by: Andy Peloquin
I didn’t know quite what to expect when diving into this books. A part of me was HOPING for something a bit more Greatcoats than Princess Bride–more badass action than romance. What I got was something that paired both surprisingly well in a story that had me way more hooked than anything I’d expected.
Duel of Fire follows two main characters:
Dara Ruminor — The consummate professional duelist, Dara is a no-nonsense young women who cares only about defeating her opponents and making a name for herself in the dueling society of Vertigon so she can earn a patron to finance her life as a duelist. Her relationship with her parents is strained at the best of times, due both to her desire to seek a life outside her family’s trade as a Fireworker (magic-users who wield lava powers, I think?) and her lack of magical talent.
Prince Sivarrion Amintelle — Cocky, brash, flippant, and arrogant on the outside, Siv is actually well-grounded by the knowledge of his duty to his father’s kingdom and the responsibility as eldest brother to his two sisters. He is a skilled duelist, but fails to take his training seriously–until Dara is brought in to be his training partner.
This book was VERY enjoyable, and a very easy read. I instantly connected with Dara and both her desires (to succeed despite her family’s opposition and the challenges she faced as a female duelist) and struggles. Siv was a lot of fun at first, but as we got to see more and more of his serious side, he became a much more complex, intriguing character, one who actually became capable of one day being the ruler of a city, not just some shallow princeling.
Plot/Pacing/Tension = 7/10 (slow beginning, solid build-up to climax)
Characters = 9/10 (well-crafted, though perhaps a tiny bit too young for my usual reading preference)
Worldbuilding = 10/10 (LOVED the mountainside city with its cool suspension bridges)
Magic = 7.5/10 (loved the idea of the Fireworking, but wanted to get a better feel for it to know for sure if it’s awesome or not. Dara’s lack of Talent makes that impossible, so in Book 1, the magic is still a nebulous unknown)
Romance = 10/10 (yeah, I’ll admit it, I was totally suckered into the inevitable will they/wont they between Dara and Siv)
It had a bit of a slower start, but by the 60% mark, I was burning through the pages and basically finished the last half in a single sitting.
All in all, a VERY engaging book, excellent fencing knowledge, and great character-building. I’m excited to dive into the next book right away!
This review is the opinion of the author and does not represent the views of Aethon Books or its employees.