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The Flame Priest (Silk & Steel Saga)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2012
The Flaming Priest did not let me down. I was very excited to get my hands on this book after the Steel Queen. Karen moved straight into more conspiracies and powerful characters. She has an amazing ability to drag the reader into her world. This book was full of action and movement. Karen has a wonderful fluidity as she transitions between one character to the next. It was very hard to put the book down when I had to. I loved this book and who her characters have turned into or are turning into as you grow to know them even better.
I have enjoyed reading Kath and understanding her as she transitions from young adult to woman. Linadra is a truly amazing character. I have become even more attached to her after this book and am starving to see how her mind and strategies work for the Skeleton King. Duncan has to be one of my favorite male characters in the books. Amazing wit and strength his character is taken to a new level in this book. Karen definitely had me sitting on the edge of my seat with her page turning events. Amazing!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2014
The second novel in the Silk & Steel story continues to hold my attention and entices me to continue on to book 3. I am very happy to have discovered this author/series. A pretty grande tale told well and briskly to keep the story moving forward. I'm 1/3 of the way through book 3 and and have yet to get bogged down at any point in any of the novels thus far. Action and courtly intrigue done well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2014
Got hooked on the first book in this series because it was so engaging I could not put it down. The second book does not disappoint! Have already ordered the third book in the series so I can just keep reading...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2014
This entire series is consistently excellent. I have enjoyed reading each story in the series. The characters are well drawn and there are villains point of view as well as heroes. You never know what is going to happen next, you only hope it's what you would want to happen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2014
I love the way this series keeps you on the edge of your seat. The characters keep evolving, and no two books are the same. There are always surprises, some sad, some exciting, but always sure to keep you engrossed. Anyone who loves fantasy/knights in shining armor books, will love this series. The battle scenes are VERY realistic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2014
Fantastic. Absolutely love the adventure, the development of all the characters. Definitely a book for all ages. I am 70 years young and am so caught up in this series I find myself neglecting my daily tasks. And I love it!!!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2013
The second in the series - Bought the first when it came out - This one builds on the first, following the multi-character story line, and building upon each - with wonderful twists and turns. Great development of character and background and the way she weaves the connections of this fantasy epic of good vs evil.. Keeps you wondering...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2012
The Flame Priest continues the entertaining epic fantasy story that started in The Steel Queen. Karen Azinger doesn't disappoint her fans, because she handles several subplots fluently and the story becomes more interesting and entertaining as the story goes on.

Before I write more about this book, here's a short synopsis of the previous book (if you haven't read The Steel Queen yet, you may want to skip the next paragraph):

In the previous book Kath saw visions of ancient times and found a mysterious crystal dagger. She traveled to the Kiralynn monks with Jordan, Duncan and Blaine. Liandra fought against the threat of the Red Horns. Steffan enjoyed the gifts of the Dark Lord and helped the Pontifax to get more support for the brutal and violent religion of the Flame God. Samson fled from Coronth, but was sent back. Jordan's brother, Justin, decided to help Samson. Danly dreamed of being a king. And the Mordant was reborn.

Here's a bit of information about The Flame Priest:

In The Flame Priest Katherine (Kath) is worried about the fate of her sword-sister, Jordan. She prepares to fight against the darkness and learns how to use magic. Liandra is getting ready to face the Red Horns. She also learns how she was betrayed. Justin is in Coronth and is hoping to change the city and its people with his music and songs. Danly is anxious to become a king, because he wants it badly and wants to see her mother pay for her actions. Steffan (the Lord Raven) invents new and devious ways to make the religion of the Flame God more brutal and popular than ever before in order to please the Dark Lord. And the Mordant has his own evil plans...

Karen Azinger has developed nicely as an author, because now she writes more fluently. She clearly has a talent for epic storytelling and she's not afraid to use it. Her writing is at its best surprisingly lush and almost shamelessly entertaining (and also extremely addictive, because it's difficult to stop reading the book). The descriptions of different places and persons are now more nuanced than in the previous book and the plot has become more complex.

The character development is wonderful, because the characters are believable and they develop in exciting and interesting ways. Especially the strong female characters are worth praising, because female characters tend to be a bit weaker characters in several traditional fantasy series, but not in this series. Kath and Liandra are strong and fascinating characters (the Priestess of the Oracle is also a great character).

Reading about the evil characters is also fascinating, because they're charmingly wicked. The chapters about Steffan and the Mordant are engrossing and well written and they offer lots of entertainment to fantasy fans. I'm sure that several readers will be thrilled to read about these characters.

Character interaction also works better in The Flame Priest. For example, the scene where Danly talks to his mother about how he managed to take the throne from her and gloats about his accomplishment, is a fantastic scene. The author describes perfectly how both characters feel and act in this scene: Danly is extremely happy and isn't afraid to show it to Liandra, but Liandra refuses to show his son how shocked she is. There are also several other excellent scenes, but I don't want to reveal everything in this review.

The religion of the Flame God is one of the best and most amazing things about this book, because the author describes all the violent and nasty happenings (especially the Test of Flame) dramatically. It's easy to imagine how ecstatically the religiously fanatic people want to burn the sinners in order to prove that they're true believers. The author shows how dangerous and explosive religious zealotry can be when people surrender themselves to fanaticism and forget everything else.

Another excellent thing is that there are lots of surprises in this book. The plot is delightfully unpredictable at certain points and the author manages to avoid typical fantasy clichés, which is admirable. There are kings, queens, princesses and princes etc in this book, but the way that the author writes about these things feels fresh. (It's great that there are authors who are capable of writing this kind of traditional epic fantasy, because traditional epic fantasy is at its best very enjoyable and offers wonderful escapism for fantasy readers.)

I must also mention that it's fascinating to see how the evil characters try to please the Dark Lord. It's nice to read what they do and what consequences their actions have on other people.

The Flame Priest is a fascinating vision of an epic battle between the forces of the light and the brutal forces of the darkness. It differs nicely from several other similar books, because the author has spent time to create a complex and vast fantasy world (there are lots of small details in this book). That's why there's a lot of depth in this book.

The Flame Priest is a highly entertaining fantasy book. It's a traditional, but also modern epic fantasy book with occasional references to sex and violence. It will appeal to readers who like traditional epic fantasy series. I think that this book can also be recommended to newcomers who haven't read fantasy before, because the plot is captivating and there's plenty of adventure and plot twists.

If you enjoyed reading The Steel Queen, you must read The Flame Priest, because you won't be disappointed. It's a damn good and enjoyable fantasy book. I have to admit that I can hardly wait to read the third book.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 11, 2012
Sequels are hard to write and often doubly difficult to appease the readers. Writers always walk a tight rope when releasing their second books. I believe Karen Azinger must have also faced a similar conundrum and I wanted to see how she would fare and so when I got the opportunity to get my hands on the second book. I eagerly went ahead as I had enjoyed The Steel Queen and the way the book ended, made me want to read the second at the earliest.

The story begins with our heroes who have all gone through their individual trials by the end of the first book. Kath the imp princess is learning more about magic as she prepares to fight the forces of the dark lord. To add to her worries is the whereabouts of Jordan the princess of Navarre & sword sister to Kath. On the other hand her brother Prince Justin the musician is in Coronth trying to gauge how to appease the flames fanned by the flame priests. The goings are tough as he has no clue to the madness which prevails in the kingdom. His only tools are his music and songs but they hold a crucial power & shall it be enough to stem the tide of the flames? Queen Liandra is facing a red hand orchestrated attack on the reins of her monarchy and it does seem to be slipping from her hands. Her second son Danly is anxiously scheming to replace her as the true king. Steffan the Raven Lord is furthering his own plans by helping the flame priests however the Dark Lord has special plans for him. Lastly is the newest player in this game the reincarnated Mordant who is equally terrifying and plays his cards close to his chest. All these characters create a thick web of action, intrigue & emotions, by which the reader will be completely enamored.

The author has to be lauded for her plotting skills which were nicely evident in the fist book but come to the fore exuberantly in this one. Throughout the story, twists are inserted for the reader to happen upon, some of which are predictable however the majority should definitely take the reader by surprise. The main plot is about transformation and this aspect is seen through all the character arcs. Be it the heroic ones or the villainous ones, they all are striving for reaching their goals and the tribulations they will face will either strengthen or smash them. Its up to the reader to discover who survives and who doesn't.

The pacing is another factor which helps as the book begins on a fast pace and then maintains its zest through out whilst going on to an terrific climax. The entire story almost never slows beginning from the first chapter all the way to the end. There's always something happening in one chapter or the other. I noticed that the author carefully orchestrated this story so that the ebb and flow of action & emotions is constantly alternated and so every character faces danger at some time or the other. I found this aspect to be very similar to the thriller books by Jeffrey Deaver and this was quite an excellent point.

The character list is also expanded from the last book and while most of the previous POV characters make their return, it's the presence of the new POVs which is truly the dark feature of this book. Namely the Mordant who is reborn and features across the breadth of the story, he was frequently mentioned in the first book however remained more like a shadowy presence but in this book manages to gain corporeal presence and makes his presence felt in all fields. His chapters as well as those of Stefan are the major negative POV chapters and are the most exciting ones to read. As the reader can read their thoughts and plans which affect several characters through out the story in major & minor ways. This was something which is usually not present in most fantasy books as we often see the actions of the negative characters but rarely see the thought process behind it.

I must also point out that one of the short stories in The Assassin's Tear, deals with a major plot point in this book and so by reading the short story, the plot acquires depth. The book while having these positive facets still faces some old issues, namely that the predictability factor is never completely toned down and so most older fantasy readers will still be able to get a general idea about how and where the story might be going. The tropes which are utilized are most of the common fantasy ones and the author doesn't really bring anything new to the palate in those terms.

CONCLUSION: A lengthier, twisted & exciting sequel, The Flame Priest lives up to its blurb promise. Focusing on a large cast of characters, Karen Azinger masterfully manages the storyline and holds the reader's interest with an engaging plot. The Flame Priest is a vastly improved book compared to its predecessor and as a sequel manages to overcome reader expectations convincingly. Give this series a try if you love classic epic fantasy tales with heroes, magic, battles & mayhem.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2015
Wow, where do I start? First off, I read a lot of fantasy and science fiction. With so many self-published and indie authors out there, it can be a chore to find those diamonds in the rough. Karen Azinger is that rare diamond find. These first two books are fantastic - there's none of the pitfalls that I find in many other books' plots, characters, story line cliches, or prose. This series is so good, I'd like to see Ms. Azinger getting the accolades just like Martin and Rowling do - she's at their level of storytelling. The descriptions of the Mordant and that of true evil in this world have been the best I've had the pleasure to read. You cheer for the heroes who face impossible odds, shudder at the sheer treachery and intelligence of the bad guys, yell at the book when there's a twist in the plot, and yes, there's a bit of spice when it comes to relationships and sex (with both good & evil characters). A true treasure - I'm looking forward to reading the rest in the series.
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