Children of Fire
by Drew Karpyshyn
Cover Artist: Steven Youll
Review by Harriet Klausner
Del Rey Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345542236
Date: 27 August 2013 List Price $26.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
He was a mortal until the Talismans he found elevated him. Then the Chaos turned him into a God. However, the Old Gods cast him down behind the Legacy barrier to keep his evil from the mortals. Alone centuries pass as he patiently waits for his opportunity to escape from this barren hell. Instead the last spell by the old Gods remains powerfully in place and he withers with age as eventually happens when Chaos reclaims existence from the orderly.
To his frustration he recognizes the truth that time is running out on this fallen god. Desperate, the malevolent deity transmits four segments of an enchanted stone into the other side by using the birth under the Chaos Moon of different children he marked with his strife. They will become critical in his scheme as anyone seeking to hold onto, amplify, or take power will want to control these kids and an error will lead to daemon's return.
The storyline takes too long to establish the parameters of the Karpyshyn realm and its key players; while the Talismans like the ring and sword will remind readers of classic quest fantasies. However, once the cast and society are created (about a third into the plot), Children of Fire becomes a fast-paced action-packed good and evil thriller.
One of the fearsome foursome, Keegan displays an intriguing value system caused by his struggle between out of control avenging ire and a deep need to give solace to others. He goes into a deadly fight expecting the innocent to die. His bi-polar behavior confuses his companions like Scythe, who wonders if he is on the side of good or evil. Much of the rest of the key cast also are fully developed as each has morality issues to contend with except for the evil God, whose patience displays the difference between short and long lifespans as he can afford to wait millennia to escape until he realizes his mortality is nearing an end unless he acts; his deployed scheme is diabolically clever. Keegan's mentor, Father Jerrod, struggles between the belief system that bans magic and his ward's use of the Ring to fight evil where, regardless of who wins, many will die and a backlash will occur. Individual and group values matter in this exciting tale.
Readers who have the patience of the malevolent deity eventually will be rewarded with a rousing quest fantasy as the opening Chaos of the Children of Fire becomes a fire-breather after the slow beginning. Fans will want more from Drew Karpyshyn, whose underlying moral premise is magic usage has consequences to the yielder and others; just ask the Danaan whose Queen understands the revenge motive.