Friday, January 29, 2010

Review: Fires Shadow Lost Scriptures by David Lehrman and Kyle Hutchinson

by David Lehrman and Kyle Hutchinson
2009 Outskirts Press
534 Pages
Genre: Fantasy/YA

4/5 Stars

Summary (Press Release)
Time is running out to prevent the arrival of pure evil.

Mystical things have always happened to Seph Urchins. Since he was a boy, his eyes have changed to match the colour of whatever he happens to look at. But nothing can prepare the 17-year-old for what lies ahead when he discovers a beautiful gem from a mysterious nearby island - Terria.

Many years ago, Terria was the home of the powerful and benevolent Magi. Then a war between its ruler, Malakyt, and the highest dark force of the land, Weth, destroyed its peaceful existence and plunged the land into darkness. Afterward, a book with the keys to releasing the Dark God - the ultimate force of evil - was hidden from view. The book details how to find and reassemble the scriptures that will unleash this force. It's supposed to be a secret. Until an ambitious dark spirit gets his hands on it...

Now, a message communicated through Seph's gemstone discovery calls upon him and his longtime friend Celex to throw off the evil engulfing Terria. Their task: Prevent the wicked Geist from finding the separated scrolls that, together, will beckon the return of the Dark God. But if they're to succeed, Seph and Celex will risk losing everything they hold dear - even each other.

My Thoughts
Seph and Celex's path is long and difficult, but they meet many people along the way who help them. Soon they are joined by Nighte (a solitary hunter), Serrennity (a cleric of the One God), and Icefang (a banished elf). These five become staunch allies in their quest, and each have their own reasons for helping. Together they tread a difficult path and overcome many difficulties (fighting the four witches, Calle, The Card Mage, the Witty Phantom, and many others), including personal difficulties they must each face, in search of the missing scriptures pieces in the rush to get them before Geist and his assorted denizens and to save the world from imminent disaster. Along the way they have to deal with the near death of the King, Serrennity's father, and a disaster with Celex that almost proves to be Seph's undoing.

First of all, I was drawn to the strong female characters in this novel. Serrennity and Celex both have incredible powers and play a huge role in many events. Even the evil Tie'bejh'Lah and the four witches are incredibly strong and certainly give the reader many delights during the fight scenes. At the same time, the women are also women and act jealous of their men when another woman comes along and I like the normalcy of that. There was some development in the personal relationships between Seph and Celex and also Serrennity and Nighte, but not enough to satisfy me, and I hope there will be more in the books that follow.

Some of the events were too pat though, in that Seph and Celex developed their powers too quickly and were suddenly able to do all of these amazing things. And some of the explanations for some of the events were somewhat confusing and I found myself re-reading some of the scenes. Though Seph and Celex had a two-month intense training session at the Mage Academy, in many of the books I've previously read it would take years to develop the strength and power these two developed in mere weeks. It seemed the authors glossed over a lot of little things and headed straight for the action and adventure, as if they were afraid they would lose the reader if they didn't. I would have liked to have seen a little more interaction between the characters and some more character development. While the action was superb and definitely kept me hanging, little things kept bothering and confusing me.

I loved the companions however, and how they worked so well together. Nighte kept reminding me of Stryker from Lord of the Rings and I developed a real fondness for this character. I was hoping none of them would meet their end in the novel. The different species the companions met along the way were original and creative and fun. I especially enjoyed the geomancers' farm where they raised plants and trees and raised them like cattle.

Final Verdict
I loved the plot. Once I got halfway through the book, I couldn't put it down. It kept me on the edge of my seat with action after action, plot turns and twists, things I wasn't expecting. The ending just exploded and left me hanging and wanting more. This is definitely a must-read for anyone who loves lots of adventure and action. I can't wait for the sequel!