Mark of Fire (Endarian Prophecy)
by Richard Phillips
Review by Mel Jacob
47North Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781542046862
Date: 01 November 2017 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
An ancient prophecy foretells the appearance of a beautiful woman with the power to subdue the primordial demon Kaleal and destroy the evil sorcerer Kragan, the enemy of all. Kragan will do anything to possess that woman and her power, including the destruction of everything and everyone in his way.
All that stands between Kragan and his victory are Blade, an assassin; Carol, a titled magic wielder; and the Endarians. Ages ago, an alliance of the Endarians and men defeated Kragan, but unbeknown to his foes he survived. Now he plots to take over the kingdom of Tal and destroy all who oppose him.
The action switches primarily between Carol and Blade with an occasional appearance by Kragan. Carol and her father's entire army are fleeing from Kragan with the assistance of Hawthorne, their sorcerer, who is shielding them from Kragan's spells.
Meanwhile, Blade, also called Arn, is in the western highlands when he encounters two men fighting against vrogs. He helps and then travels with two. The trio reaches a town and happens on a slave sale. Among the captives is an Endarian woman who they rescue. Her story leads them in a new direction.
Carol strives to improve her abilities but draws the attention of Kaleal and Kragan. To survive and keep her people safe, she must overcome her fears and the mental block she has erected to protect herself.
The basic story is familiar to fantasy readers. For some reason, Phillips has a tendency to rush through events. He has a number of daring-do battles pitting Blade and his comrades against various enemies while Carol fights to master her control of elementals and avoid Kragan's attempts to locate her father's fleeing army. The terrain is varied and adds further challenges for the heroes.
In this novel, characters are close to standard fantasy types because Phillips provides little emotional insight into them and the rush through the action misses opportunities for adding that. The ending leaves the reader hanging as little of the overarching story is resolved. This trilogy continues in Prophecy’s Daughter and Mark of the Chosen.