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The Purifying Fire: A Planeswalker Novel by Laura Resnick
Review by Asta Sinusas
Wizards of the Coast Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780786952984
Date: 07 July 2009 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

On the plane of Regatha, Walbert III is ruler of the cities and plains, and has started to increase his hold over the mountain and woodland regions, his power drawn from the Purifying Fire, and managed by the Order of Heliud. A resident of Keral Keep, a monastery in the Great Western Wood, Chandra Nalaar is an extraordinary fire mage, but is feeling unsettled by Walbert's orderly society and his increasing sphere of influence on the forest. In a Hoth-like scene from Empire Strikes Back, she also alerts the Order by destroying one of their ghost wardens. However, the larger complications are dimmed by other matters. Unbeknownst to the other residents, she is asked by Mother Luti, the head of the monastery, to steal a very valuable scroll by using her rare talent for planeswalking. Only, the scroll is stolen back by Gideon, another planeswalker. So Chandra goes off and steal it again, only now it's in a museum-like setting and her smash and grab job is foiled and she's thrown in prison.

I highly recommend speed reading through the first third of the novel to this point. If you're very trusting, you can take my word to start here. That's because the book finally gets interesting when Chandra escapes from prison and planeswalks into a plane of vampire-like eternal darkness. Gideon follows her there, and the two reluctantly agree to work together to get out of the forsaken place. That way, they can to go back to their antagonistic roles, but over time, that animosity is turned into an increasing respect for the other's abilities. However, when they finally escape, Chandra faces another challenge when she faces Walbert and the Purifying Fire...

The Purifying Fire is for those who like their fantasy novels to be an enjoyable, mindless escape or who enjoy other Magic: The Gathering novels. Those looking for more would do better elsewhere as disappointingly, The Purifying Fire only shows promise in the last third of the book. The relationship between Chandra and Gideon is developed too late, as is the conflict between Chandra and Walbert. Instead, pages in the beginning are wasted in an attempt to explain Chandra's background and set the scene, when the book could have taken the reader to more planes and different adventures. Resnick has flashes of brilliance, but the book she should have written begins just before The Purifying Fire ends.

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