The Waking Fire. Book Review

THE WAKING FIRE by Anthony Ryan
Orbit. p/b. 720pp. £8.99
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins

Lizanne is the granddaughter of the admired Darus Letheridge, although Lizanne knows more of the truth about him than many of his followers. The man who approaches her on this voyage is educated, polite, and all seems proper – he is respectful and he maintains the correct distance, except in his enquiries. They want her grandfather’s secrets and they may go to great lengths to get them.

Second Lieutenant Corrick Hilemore, with the freshly stitched star to mark his promotion, takes his new position aboard a war vessel. The captain and first mate waste no time in giving him those duties reserved for a newbie – ensuring the security and the discipline of the ship’s Blood-blessed, and Hilemore senses the latter part may not be so easy on this vessel.

As well as Lizanne and Hilemore there is a third point of view character in The Waking Fire, in Clayton Torcreek, who plays the tough adventurer-for-hire. The size of the book will give you a good idea of how long their respective adventures are and how much depth, action and description is in here.

As in his previous books, Ryan’s worldbuilding is excellent; its geographies and the greater events taking place in it are communicated through letters, memos, flashbacks, present dialogue and flowing descriptions that never slow the narrative, and the magic system is revealed slowly, tantalising glimpses of possibility and explanation drip fed to the reader, maintaining intrigue.

The level of detail in The Waking Fire and the immersion into this world is exceptional, and this first instalment of The Draconis Memoria series has the makings of a steadfast contribution to the modern fantasy saga. The characters are easy to admire in their individual skills and motivations, if somewhat cold at times, but on reflection one wonders if this is a conscious decision by the author to reflect the harsh realities of this world, and those creatures who populate it, in the humans who dwell alongside them.