One Book Two Views this month brings together cloudberry and Serenity to read A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet, the first book in the Kingmaker Chronicles.
I first came across this book sometime last year and the cover hooked me right away. But with my track record with anything else but contemporary romance in the recent years, I was hesitant; I didn’t want to get suckered by a fabulous cover only to find out the story doesn’t match.
Let me tell you, it does.
There isn’t that much world building in the story, it throws you right in the middle of things. Normally I would complain about this—I want to know what to expect, sort of—but with A Promise of Fire, I don’t. Yes, I would like to have a clear image of the world in my head, but this is an extremely character-driven story, and it all unfurls through the characters. They make the world, not the other way around.
The female main character, Cat, is the kind of character I’m actually very, very surprised I liked. She keeps coming up with powers that always save the day. She’s snarky and headstrong, and hiding secrets. So many secrets. The moment Griffin, or Beta Sinta, approaches her, he knows she’s the Kingmaker, and he needs her.
[One of the reasons I never got past the second or third book (see how much I care, not even enough to know which books I’ve read…) in the Night Huntress series is the female MC, also Cat, who I think is just obnoxious and too full of herself. There are a lot of the same traits in the Cat in this story but it’s toned down—a lot. Well, at least I think so. Maybe they’re both just as obnoxious but this Cat is GREAT whereas the other one is, well, not.]
Griffin coerces Cat to leave with him and his soldiers. To ensure Cat doesn’t escape, he ties her to himself with a magical rope that only he can untie. (I know, he sounds obnoxious too, right? He’s not.)
An uneasy alliance forms between Cat and Griffin and his soldiers. She hates them, especially Griffin, and wants to escape. But when it comes down to it, she takes their side. And little by little, she learns to trust they have her back too, and becomes friends with them. Not Griffin so much as the others, but this is for obvious reasons; Cat is trying so hard to fight her growing feelings for Griffin that she doesn’t allow herself to like him. (Spoiler alert: She does, she’s just lying to herself.)
In a world where one becomes Alpha by killing their opponent, Sinta surprises Cat. Not only is Griffin, the strongest, not Alpha, but all his siblings and both of his parents are still alive. The family doesn’t rule by fear and terror. They’re nice. Totally clueless about proper royal etiquette, but nice.
Cat prepares the family for a realm dinner, teaching them about who the people who will attend, and in the process becomes friends with them. She grows closer to Griffin and it becomes harder and harder to fight the bond between them, until at last she doesn’t. But she’s still terrified of what will happen to him once her past catches up to them.
In this book, it doesn’t. That surprised me a little. I was expecting a great big show-down at the end of the book. But when I think about it a little, it makes sense. This book is about Cat finding her place, realizing she isn’t destined to be alone, and forming a bond and an alliance. Finding family.
That family is what will help her when her past finally does catch up with her.
A Promise of Fire gets a solid four charms from me. It’s a damn good book, great story and great characters.
And now I’m saddled with a huge problem: I have the next book, Breath of Fire, ready next to my bed. But the third book, Heart on Fire, won’t be released until January 2018. Do I read the next book now or do I wait until I can dive straight into the last book, or do I try to pace myself and wait a few months so that it’s close to equal amount of time between the first and the last book in the series? Tough decision, very tough, but I guess I’ll just have to wait and see how patient I can be. (From experience, not very…)
I’ve been reading a lot of heavy novels lately, so I was very excited to finally get back to a fantasy based story. Fantasy is just my favorite genre, and that all combined to probably artificially raise my rating on this book. But more on that in a minute.
The story is not a slow build like some fantasy worlds. You’re pretty much dumped right in the middle but with only about a half info dump. That was my biggest complaint here. Do an info dump or take the time to build your world, but please don’t try both. I was able to just go with it and piece things together as I read because I liked the characters so much, but not every reader will like that.
The characters, though, that’s what made this story. Cat is so fun, and I LOVE her snarky mouth. Very Kate Daniels at points. I also like how the author doesn’t just gloss over Cat’s past in her relationships with others. When you’ve gone through the torture and abuse that Cat has, you’re going to resist connections. Honestly, the fact that she makes connections at all is probably stretching the reality of her past, but it is a story and I for one want to see the characters grow and overcome their pasts.
So, characters: 5 stars, story: 3 stars. I ended with a bit of a generous 4 stars. The story wasn’t BAD, it just needed more development. And it didn’t hurt that I love this genre.
Our overall rating: four charms!
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