- File Size: 6993 KB
- Print Length: 227 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publication Date: June 24, 2017
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0738TRW5P
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,980 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Aflame (Legacy of Flames Book 3) Kindle Edition
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Aflame is the third book of Legacy of Flames by Emma L. Adams. It's preceded by Alight and Arise. Goodreads tags (a.k.a. genres or book shelves) reveal a split between Paranormal Fantasy (PF) and Urban Fantasy (UF). Subsequent items include Dragons, Magic, and Shapeshifting. Regarding the split I'm inclined to steer clear of labelling books as PF, because it's all too often tangled up with PNR (Paranormal Romance), without delineating just how much romance alters the plot from PF to PNR. This brings me back to a preference for using UF. At 74,124 words, roughly 389 pages, the current book has a decent length.
I've included links to four reviews I've written on Emma's books, and also to Amazon's Emma L. Adams Page. In order the reviews are for: Alight (Legacy of Flames Book 1); Arise (Legacy of Flames Book 2); Faerie Blood (The Changeling Chronicles Book 1); and Faerie Magic (The Changeling Chronicles Book 2). The design of my reviews has been a work-in-progress, so you'll find a significant change in them that has nothing to do with the books themselves.
Emma L. Adams Page - https://www.amazon.com/Emma-L.-Adams/e/B00AY6MN7I/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Review - https://www.amazon.com.au/review/R1YY7DC6KH5ZNR/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm
Review - https://www.amazon.com.au/review/R2N0XWVRQ29QXX/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm
Review - https://www.amazon.com/review/REW2774XFIYR4/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B01EEENYIC
Review - https://www.amazon.com/review/R236AYM69APAKD/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B01FPS5IQC
INTRODUCTION - THE STORY SO FAR:
Ember and her sister Cori are the rarest of shifters, the nearly extinct dragon shifters; supernatural beings trying to survive in a world that has hunted them endlessly. In their lifespan an event took place that made their hidden existence so much harder to maintain. The Faerie invasion (or apocalypse could just as easily be used) happened several years ago, which forced the awareness of all supernaturals in the public knowledge, when nearly all were forced to reveal their magical nature during fights for their lives. When it happened it was hard and fast, the wave taking around twenty-four hours to pass. Fae magic ripped a hole in the veil separating the three realms, the veil between their own and the human realm temporarily allowing legions to crossover.
Whilst approximately half of the population and nearly all social structural systems were lost in the blink of an eye, the damage wasn't sufficient enough to prevent all social systems from recovering, but the new power structure changed drastically. Their efforts were presumably aimed at the expansion of Fae dominion. Between human technology and weaponry, plus the supernatural population who came out of hiding to defend the realm, a significant number of the Fae who weren't killed or didn't get a strong enough foothold to magically change the face of zones they took over, went back through the veil before it closed again. In the early periods following, countless others were lost in all three populations. The dark in the newly shaped realm now includes things equal to what was just the paradigm of nightmares.
The human realm had for eons been populated with supernatural beings who'd mostly been coexisting peacefully, and in relative anonymity. In efforts to reach the network of underground structures they'd commandeered and built upon to aid in their anonymity, the invasion forced their magical natures to appear at the street level when they were forced into confrontations on two fronts. To survive the stirring up of the hornet's nest they had to engage the Fae, and humans who believed them to be part of the invasion, all whilst helping to keep human losses to a number that wouldn't have been possible in the absence of their intervention. Whichever way you looked at it, supernaturals became the meat in the sandwich.
When the dust settled, three clear divisions now existed in an environment depleted of certain resources and uninhabitable in places where Fae magic changed the face of the environment so significantly that only the Fae had a chance of surviving it. Had the supernatural population come forward earlier, only where their existence was something humans were capable of accepting, then perhaps the tide might've flowed in different directions. They suffered significant losses and became much more hunted than they previously were. For people like Ember and Cori, who barely survived the invasion, it was only the heartbreaking sacrifice by loved ones that they made it to safety.
Their defacto mother, Rhea, who'd filled the shoes of a foster mum had done her best to give numerous supernaturals a footing right up to and including that terrible day. As both siblings' memories had (presumably) been magically wiped clean, it was as close to losing a mother as either could know. With Ember up to that point only ever having had partial shifting of her dragon abilities like in her hands and forearms, that could shift at will into scales and talons, she ran the risk of first changes when forced on shifters; that it takes a toll debilitating enough to cause unconsciousness. With the heightened emotions of witnessing Rhea's sacrifice and soon after getting trapped once again, Ember's mothering instincts kicked in as Cori's life look to be ended at the end of a bullet. A resulting forced change had become inevitable.
For as long as history has recorded the presence of supernaturals its also recorded the despotic zealots who preemptively hunt them with goals of complete eradication. These purests were cult-like and as anonymous as their prey, in fears that discovery of their despicable interventions would sway humanity against them. During the invasion a group called the Orion League, under their current despot, Malkin, made their presence temporarily known. They took to the streets as hunters, killing without prejudice, and including a degree of collateral damage from friendly fire. The deaths are brushed off as necessary casualties of war. It was such hunters that forced Ember's dragon to make her appearance, with it effectively killing all but one witness, an elite hunter in the group who cornered her and Cori.
But that one escapee is what caused the sisters' biggest problems from there on; the hunters would not suffer dragons to live, and they would experiment and torture to reveal the answers they seek. Orion not only hunts, it also experiments on both prisoners of war and their own recruits, the knowledge gained being used to enhance their hunters and develop technology to counteract magical abilities. Confiscated knowledge about dragon shifters sees Ember and to an extent, Cori too, as the answers to their prayers once they realised only dragonfire can destroy everything; including the Fae too strong for conventional weaponry.
Now months and years later, Ember and Cori found two special best friends who work together like true siblings. The escapee, following defection, had made contact and through much turmoil an uneasy alliance started. Cori had been abducted and imprisoned whilst being experimented on. Due to her juvenile statis as a dragon, her as yet unrealised potential, she became a pawn in a goal to exchange her for Ember. With a family journal he stole from the siblings, Malkin believes he now has all the information necessary to eradicate and cleanse the human realm of tarnish; which includes humans complacent in killing supernaturals. Ember, Astor, and friends, have all come up against Malkin and his League several times: but to get details about those, you'll need to read Alight and Arise.
In the dystopian aftermath of the invasion, Mage Lords arose to the top of the pedestal. The Mage Lords have however held back on intervention regarding the Orion League until their risk was banging against their heads, seemingly operating under the assumption that the threat they pose has been exaggerated by the non-Mage supernaturals. At least until the latest skirmish between Ember and co. against Malkin, his Elites, and expendable foot soldiers, where the Mages experienced direct involvement in Malkin's targeted attacks. Events being what they are, Ember has now become embroiled with them as well.
Prison cells come in all shapes and sizes, ranging differences between being locked up with no interaction to token gestures where however much movement you get it still reflects the whole being locked up. Versus the Orion League the Mage Lords prison cell isn't even in the same ballpark, but that doesn't mean Ember and Cori take it any better. When it comes to being in prison, sometimes it's the things you don't have that make the difference from what you do have. For example, it's not being locked in that's the brunt of the problem with Ember's current arrangement, it's the not being able to speak to and see her sister that's the issue.
Ember and Cori's absolute greatest need is to find more like them and to obtain the knowledge they've been missing, causing them to bumble their way through, until now. Exposure to a tortured and emaciated fellow dragon shifter has revitalised that need. The feeling is that the memories locked away from the girls that predate their oldest memory will trace them back to their origins, and will hopefully explain why their parents might've sent them away. They know Malkin's efforts will be to pit everything the League has to get to the dragons, whom he sees as crucial to his next major move. If he gets there first there'll be nothing but blood and death for them to find. But with the dead rising and more enemies than they've ever had before now, their time is fast running out. The next challenge will be pivotal in how the the face of the human realm will survive after Malkin has his way.
Ember's life has added one more despotic leader, although thankfully not as severe. Whilst more discreet, the Mage Lords are no less manipulative as they also seek to control through emotional bonds and ties, placing her in lose-lose situations of choosing lives at the cost of another. The proverbial anecdote of "no man (sic) is an island" seems more inclined to hold true for people with hearts that determine action as significantly as their minds. The occurrence of being able to be manipulated into forced compliance of action or inaction, is so much more effective on people who aren't islands. For the islanders, it appears manipulation is more limited to direct action against solely the respective island, which eliminates vicarious influence and often in stories makes the villains subject to far less control.
The dystopian London following the invasion has been an accumulative high point I've yet to highlight in my two prior reviews. No shortcuts have been taken in the imaginative visage created by fictitious description enriched with documented aspects, giving this London a doppelganger feel. Little known details that have been used in creative ways to bring them to light makes the journey all the more real. I suspect some of the tidbits wouldn't be found on "You've visited London" or "Hello from London" postcards. Information about the real London gives the dystopian version a more realistic and larger than life feel to it. Better yet is the impression that under similar circumstances the doppelganger would indeed be a true reflection.
Tidbits of dragon lore, some of which are regularly missed, has incorporated dragon shifters into a larger than life impression than can regularly be experienced where such shifters find their way into fantasy literature. The biggest example and appreciation for the image developed to my mind, is that which could be called the 'dread'. Similar to some conceptions of vampires, mostly in those that use the more nightmarish existence, the dread is an ability to evoke through projection a paralysing heightening of fear in prey. In dark fantasy and supernatural suspense, a recent example that comes immediately to mind regarding vamps is William Stacey's The Vampire Queen Saga, where dread is used in some quite dramatic and entertaining instances.
This theme of dragon lore tends to arise more when dragons are included in their original form than, for lack of a better conceptual reference, the form of their evolutionary cousins: the dragon shifters. This brings to mind another strength that I suspect will be a debated opinion, that when in dragon form these shifters are still very much dragons: in lieu of the regularly inferior version modified if it's a shifter. If you think about it, the animal form of shifters are mostly equal to or superior than versions of non-shifter kinds. When you read a tale dealing in werewolves for example, if they differ is it in ways that make them bigger and better, or smaller and lesser? Werewoles in wolf form are shifters that obtained something so much larger and more dangerous than their counterparts.
Whilst title examples slip my mind, in the case of wolves the counterpart can be seen to bow down or to submit to Were- control of them. Unless a story deals with Nordic mythology regarding the Fenrir, even if only on a purely descriptive framework rather than an actual appearance, then wolves are always inferior. For whatever reasons have created it that I'm yet to see explained or justified, the rationale in dragon shifters regularly sees the shifter kind as inferior in anything from a minor difference of being a bit smaller, through to some pretty major ways including the toll it takes to the sorts of magical capabilities. Thus, I'm happier when the dragon shifters aren't portrayed as inferior, as they aren't herein.
The topic of shifters also includes another positive, the inclusion of the type of shifter regularly forgotten, that of the gargoyles. Despite whatever form they take as shifted versus non-shifted, inanimate versus animate, where some distinct differences can occur, gargoyles are shifters when all is said and done. I'm rather partial to gargoyles and I think they're both underappreciated and underutilised as supernatural creatures of choice. In some ways they're the original sentinels, and not only is their visage found in architecture the world over, that same aspect makes them cross-cultural in presence and interpretation.
If these aren't reason enough to include them as either in central roles or in supporting ones then I'm one-hundred percent certain that if you were to ask Lisa Blackwood about their potential to pay dividends that you'd get a much more substantial detailing of the benefits. An example of the success possible in their usage is found in her character Gregory, who only in the past year ranked at the top of favourite character polling on fan based voting against other powerhouse and very successful characters. Her opinion of gargoyles would be equally high. Herein, Will is great example and the fact that he's a half-blood with abilities retained in both aspects of his heritage ups the ante as well.
The actions of the Orion League gets me thinking about a real world similarity that I'd call preemptive terrorism, especially in the case of dragon shifters. Between propaganda and any other number of public knowledge manipulation and censored screening, the initiatives aren't reactionary - although they do get heightened in the public eye as warrantable in a reactionary validity - so much as they're preemptive. This act, the mentality of attacking before an attacker has first made any move appears historically through real world applications and turns cross-cultural prejudices and antagonism into a mindfield of competing claims about who through the first punch. You've only got to look at the schoolyard to see that both kids fighting get punished even if one is in self-defence, to know that overreacting and bias leads to trouble for all involved.
The real world application of preemptive terrorism might try to play itself off as initiatives aimed at protecting your country against possible future targeting or in reparation for past ones; but at some stage you have to ask well who did actually throw the first punch and irrespective of whomever did, wrre responses commensurate with the original antagonistic efforts. Countries might be part of treatises about international human rights standards, and rightfully so, but it becomes a rather provocative issue when in one instance one side of the equation operates under the standards that collateral damage is acceptable if the targets are military in origin versus when the targets of payback tend only to be non-military.
Apex predator concepts, top of food chain ones, or more metaphorically, the cutting down of tall poppies appears in so many places, fantastical and real world historical, that at some point someone has to ask if the resultant conflicts outweigh the reasons for intervention. At what point do political motivations become responsible over-and-above any others, and if so, then at what point can the political representatives be held responsible. Without going into specifics, there's a certain world war that was defined as a police action and not war through political maneuvering to help divert attention from that field, but what was the international death toll and how many significant post-conflict issues are still being experienced a half-century later. The Orion League's actions can be cast with dome of the same moldings, or extremely similar ones, and yet how many of its victims have ever been shown to present the risk portrayed behind the attacks.
The three books together have presented a rollercoaster ride of emotions and themes, with its fast-paced action, suspense, mystery, and even abhorrence at the ways many central motivations have gone down. The number of analogous components of the storyline are significant irrespective of whether they're intended or not. Ember is a great character and definitely the pick of the litter, so to speak, regarding who to build stories and a series around. Her force of will power is on par with the mite of her supernatural side to her heritage.
The environment offers significant themes and features to monopolise, so too supporting characters. Whilst Ember's perspective is an ideal choice for an urban fantasy styled rating, something that gets me thinking is the potential for Astor's perspective to alter that to a science fiction-fantasy style. Together, Alight, Arise and Aflame have a noticeable trilogy feel to them; ergo, if you've read any then you need to do right by the story and read all three (at minimum). So it's a must-read series and the caliber I'm sure fans of Emma will come to expect. She has set her own bar high and the pressure to produce will undoubtedly become a factor, which whilst it might be viewed in any number of ways for herself, it guarantees benefits to readers.
Imprisoned by the mages, Ember & co have to figure out how to gain their freedom, retrieve the Moonbeam from the mages' hands, uncover the past of the dragon shifters and save the city from another apocalypse. Winning a careful and suspecting trust from the mages, the group of misfits is engaged in the investigation of supernatural murders and necromancy Grasping their freedom, our group gets the Moonbeam in their hands, so Ember and Cori take a journey to the village of their clan and ancestors - only to have their hopes crushed and being kicked out with more questions than answers. Not giving up, they end up in much trouble uncovering the links between dragonfire, Malkin, the Hunters, mages, shifters, faeries, necromantic rituals and the undead.
I must say I truly enjoyed this final book. It was really fast paced and engaging, full of action and adventure, keeping me tensed the whole time and curious about the next twist. I loved the development of the various kinds of relationships among the characters, most of those the romantic interests. As I already mentioned while reviewing the first two books, I absolutely adore the bunch of misfits starring in this series. They are all very unique and specific, with their own assets and flaws, all of them contributing to the story in a different way, yet leaving one of them out would harm the book. They make a whole. I also very much liked the world setup and the realistic descriptions that made me feel alive with the story. The climax and the final battle were maybe a bit chaotic and rushed, but on the other side, the utter chaos is something I can imagine in a real battle, so from this point of view, I cannot oppose. I also would like to know more about the lives of the main characters after their victory, how they settled up and organized their lives, but that is just my curiosity, the book ended well enough. I am truly satisfied.
I have read an ARC of this book and voluntary wrote my opinion.
Ember wakes up to find herself (and her friends) imprisoned by the mages. When a few zombies suddenly break into the headquarters, Ember knows the Hunters are up to no good. Promising to help the mages, Ember and her friends try to figure out what's going on, but as things unfold, it appears to be much worse than she could have ever dreamed.
This isn't a stand alone but needs to be read as a series, since one book builds on the other.
Ember is now in control of her powers and has uncovered enough secrets to guess how to use the Moonstone. Too bad that isn't enough. The author heaps on the action in this book, bringing together an insane heap of trouble from every direction. There a weak spots in the logic, but only a few. The head of the Hunters is as evil as evil can get and throws up a battle which isn't only thrilling but had me holding my breath page after page, wondering how Ember was ever going to have a chance to go up against everything.
In other words, this is an exciting ending to a fast-paced series and simply a ton of fun to read.
I received a complimentary copy and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to leave my honest thoughts.
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