The Enduring Flame Series: What a harsh world we live in - apparently.
I just finished listening to the first 2 books of this trilogy (scheduled trilogy anyway). The Phoenix Unchained and The Phoenix Endangered. Written by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory. Both read by William Dufris. Phoenix Unchained is 12 CDs, 13½ hrs. Phoenix Endangered is 14 CDs, 17¼ hours. I am new to both the authors and the reader.
UNlike most of the reviewers on Amazon, I am not familiar with "The Obsidian Trilogy", apparently written by these same authors. I came to this series sans history of the story so I don't care about it right now, I'm just looking at these stories as starting a new fantasy trilogy.
It seems that many of the reviewers think the story is negative because it is about 2 milk sop heros (well, milk sops because they regret having to kill thousands of people - EVEN THOUGH their actions were morally justified (ASSUMING ofcourse REVENGE is JUST moral cause for lowering one's self to the same level as those WE are killing - but then again,... isn't that the same argument THEY are making?).
It is truly a harsh world we live in if the current state of thought about these two heros in these marvelously told AND READ stories, is that they are BORING!
For myself, I have really enjoyed these 2 stories and the reader, William Dufris, is VERY GOOD. He has both the tone and range to be excellent at character identification and recognition and he is consistent. I highly recommend him as a reader if this series is indicitive of his work.
This is a "Wheel of Time" sort of series, only it moves a LOT faster - well ofcourse, if its a trilogy it would have to wouldn't it? Only here "the wheel" turns differently and for different reasons.
In the WOT, the wheel turns due to the combined force of both the male and female halves of "the one power". Without both halves, the wheel stops presumably. In The Enduring Flame, the wheel turns due to the forces of "the light" and "the dark", presumably "in balance" to "keep the wheel true".
1000 years ago, an event now known as "the great flowering" occured, when "the endarkened" were defeated. Since that time, apparently, only the darker side of humans had served as "the dark" side of the wheel - WHICH ofcourse everyone knows is not enough "of the dark" to keep "the wheel" in balance. Thus, came a "wild" mage named Bisochim, who came to believe that the wheel was "out of balance" since "the great flowering", (and thus logically "the wheel" would circle itself to death eventually - UNLESS he figures out a way to reintroduce (to a limited extent anyway) "the endarkened" into the world in order to "true" the wheel -in order to "serve the balance" (THE great duty of all "wild" mages).
Enter Tiercel Rolforth and Harrier Gillian (or, if you will, Rand Al'thor and Perrin Ebarra, and crazy Matt, or Eragon and Roarin, or Roland of Gilead and his companions, or like a great many of our favorite epic fantasy heros, destined for long journeys into unkown and dangerous lands. Being possessed of inate powers of which they know little, and MUST learn quickly or die at the hands of "the dark"). All of these are heros with a conscience (having deep guilt for what they have done or been forced to do "in the service of the light", EVEN IF what they had done WAS "justified". (These characters all realized that VENGENCE is only "justification" not "absolution". But then, if vengence IS "justification", we are all diminished to the same level as those we kill aren't we?)
Tiercel Rolforth is the first "high" mage born in 1000 years. As an infant, he required healing from a "wild" mage, who recognizing "what" this child was, ensured that when Tiercel's "mage gift" came upon him, he would not die or go mad without the aid of another "high" mage (since none existed now). Like many other heros, Tiercel learns to his chagrin, that every "mage gift" requires a "mage price" (either from him personally, or from others).
Enter Ancaladar, the "black dragon" who had helped defeat "the endarkened" at the battle of "the great flowering". Ancaladar, who by elf magic and at the cost of 3 lives, had agreed to transfer his "bond" to Tiercel. (Yup, there are dragons and riders in The Enduring Flame, along with elves, centaurs, unicorns, brownies, fawns, and all sorts of "endarkened thingys") Thus, giving Tiercel both his knowledge and power, Ancaladar gives Tiercel the ability to perform the magic he will need to perform.
Beside the noble born Tiercel, stands Harrier Gillian, the harbor master's third son of the northern harbor city of Armathelea (phonetic) (The ancient center of learning of the "high magic"... now long gone from the world). They had been best friends since infants, with Harrier being the ever wary and street wise one, and Tiercel being the ever naive and street dumb one, either naturally or deliberately wandering into trouble, and Harrier was always needed to bail him out.
Harrier is deeply dubious of Tiercel's new found fascination with the old "high" magic, and is repulsed by the idea of it. To his chagrin, following Tiercel on his quest to find the source of the impending "endarkened", Harrier learns from a unicorn that HE, Harrier, is ALSO not only born to be a "wild mage", but a "knight mage". A wielder of both the "war magic" and the "wild magic". These will both be needed to protect Tiercel on his quest to find Bisochim as stop the planned reintroduction of "the endarkened".
So, in the final book Tiercel and Harrier are going to have to address the larger question regarding Bisochim, .... WHAT IF HE'S RIGHT? ... WHAT IF, "the wheel" CANNOT be "in balance" without "the endarkened"? I'm really looking forward to the answer to that question.
What's not to like here? GREAT STORYTELLING, GREAT CHARACTERS ... GREAT READER.