As a history buff, any time I get to visit the past I’m all giddy with excitement. If you cross that with an immortal that wakes up 3000 years in the future, oblivious to the time that has passed, well then you’ve got me hook, line and sinker. Nothing is as enticing for a history buff as the idea of someone in the past coming to our ‘world’ and seeing things through their eyes, except maybe going back in time to see the past for yourself, LOL. That’s what happens to Karr, a chimera, in The Fire King by Marjorie M. Liu. While I can’t say this is now on my favorites list, it was a captivating and exciting read just the same.
Long ago, shape-shifters reigned as gods. But even gods have laws that they break at their own peril . . .
Each member of Dirk & Steele has a unique ability. Soria’s is the gift of communication—which is why she’s been chosen to learn the language of a tormented warrior resurrected after thousands of years of icy sleep.
He is Karr, and once he was a king. Strong as a lion, quick and deadly as a serpent, he saw everything he loved consumed in flames. Death was to be his salvation, but thousands of years later he has been awakened against his will. Now a breathtaking human moves him in ways he neither understands nor desires. But Soria can see beyond his rage . . . and only she can speak the words that will cool the destructive fury in his soul.
Words of love.
I liked the main characters in the The Fire King in the sense that Karr is a chimera; those suckers are pretty spiffy. And Soria is a human who can learn languages almost instantly just by being in the presence of someone who speaks it, which is just as cool and entertaining. I also really connected with Soria. She has a missing arm which sets her apart from every other character I’ve ever read. The reason behind this loss is creepy, horrible, and horrific. Even though I’m not in love with The Fire King, Soria will forever stand out in my memory of amazing characters for this. However that’s where my love, so to speak, ends.
Because Soria stands out so much with what she’s been through and what she goes through with only one arm, it meant I never got into Karr’s character. He doesn’t stand out for me in anyway other than the dude is half dragon/half lion. That’s not to say he’s a boring character, because he isn’t some slob who sits on a couch all day. It’s just that Soria steals the show for me, although that may sound like she’s an out of the ordinary character. She is, but only because she’s missing her arm and can learn languages so quickly. The rest, is a normal heroine with all the qualities we know well (ie brave, dependable, strong, has bad taste in friends, etc). So sadly I find that, although I think they work as a couple, I don’t really know Karr.
All the characters though are very complicated and tormented in The Fire King. Each one has issues, and I don’t mean little ones. One character doesn’t leave his house ever; another character takes out her hate over an old lover on everyone, etc. People can’t be trusted, because there’s always another, hidden, agenda at every turn. While I like this complexity, it made me not trust the characters or how things were going to play out, which in essence killed the mood for me.
Another thing that didn’t work for me was that there was a build up to very little conclusion in certain areas. For instance, you spend most of the book wondering what happened to Karr and how he is alive. When you find out, it’s not really explained, then the story moves forward. It’s like a mechanic telling you he had to fix your car during a normal tune up and now you owe him more money. What was wrong with the car? What did he have to replace/do to fix it? Is this a permanent fix? I needed more explanations to grasp and understand what happened. Another example is Karr wakes up 3000 years later and has basically no culture shock. I was excited to see our ‘world’ through his eyes, but sadly you don’t get to because he takes everything in stride. At the end, I was left with lots of questions about situations throughout The Fire King, things I can’t share without spoiling the story though.
Problems aside, this was still an interesting read. A 3000 year old chimera?! A woman who can speak a language just by being next to the person who speaks it?! I mean come on, how cool are these people? There was a lot of potential and enough interesting scenes to keep me fascinated with The Fire King. So while it may not be one of my favorite books, nor will I check out the other books of this series, I still enjoyed it enough to say give it a try anyway. Who knows, this may be your next favorite novel?
The Red Heart of Jade
Eye of Heaven
The Last Twilight
The Fire King
In The Dark of Dreams
Within the Flames
A Dream of Stone & Shadow
Where the Heart Lives