The Scorched Earth: (The Chaos Born 2) Paperback – 4 Sep 2014
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"Gripping and compelling from first page to last, Children of Fire is a ... spell-binding epic told with masterful craft" (Tracy Hickman New York Times bestselling author of the Dragonlance and Deathgate series)
BOOK TWO IN THE CHILDREN OF FIRE SERIES. An action-packed heroic fantasy in a world of chaos magic.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
What occurs within is solid character building allowing the reader the opportunity to see how the characters develop alongside bringing new characters to the fore to allow for a fuller world view. Back this up with good action sequences and of course a plot line that keeps revealing mysterious hints all round make this a series to savour.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
My first pet peeve was, there was no summary of the first book and having given it to my son to read (his room is a black hole) I had no way to reference who was who and what had happened in the past. A quick synopsis or at least a glossary in the back would have been helpful. If they appear in editions other than the ARC copy I received then I apologize. The second and main problem of the book is the first 200 pages could have been edited down to 50 pages, for truly nothing really happens and the story drags on to the point that if I didn't think there could be a payoff (having read most of his other books kept me going) I probably wouldn't have finished it. I can not recommend reading this book without first reading Children of Fire. The book suffers from middle child syndrome.
However, as usual, (without giving away spoilers) the last 1/3 of the book picks up with an intensity that redeems the reading experience and makes me look forward to the conclusion of the series.
Again you should read/revisit the first book before starting this one. I do have a feeling that the final book will be something special.
1 left off. Generations ago, the Gods sacrificed themselves to trap the evil Daemron behind a barrier called the Legacy, but now, the Legacy is crumbling. Now, four mortals touched by Chaos -- the force from which all magic in this world is derived -- race to fulfill their collective destiny and keep Daemron from returning and unleashing his hordes of monsters upon the world. One problem: they aren't certain what that destiny is, only that it involves the three Talismans that Daemron once used to make himself immortal. Namely, the Ring, the Crown, and the Sword.
These four were born through a ritual Daemron enacted to set forces in motion that would someday free him, and each embodies an element of himself from back when he was a mortal hero: king, warrior, prophet, and wizard.
Keegan, a young wizard with amazing power but a frail body, appears to have the clearest destiny. Guided by a fanatical monk whose visions spurred him to rebel against his own order, he's believed to be the Burning Savior, the one who will prevent Daemron's rise. Though he's successfully obtained the Ring, he finds that he can't control it... and in trying to, he unleashed a flood of dark magic upon the Danaan people. He's easily one of my favorite characters in the series -- earnest and well-meaning, though also flawed, vulnerable, and under enormous pressure.
Vaaler used to be the crown prince of the Danaan... until he chose to help Keegan, a longtime friend, steal the Ring from his mother, whose family had owned it for generations. Though Vaaler believes in Keegan's destiny and believes his actions will ultimately save the world, his people believe him to be a traitor, especially given the devastating consequences of Keegan's actions. Now in exile, Vaaler knows only that he must help Keegan save the world--even if it means fighting his own people. Yet his natural leadership skills bring him new allies, and though he no longer has a land, he is still very much a king. I loved reading about his internal conflict and turmoil as he's torn between his people and his broader mission. He's also grounded and wise beyond his years -- a much needed role in this chaotic world.
Accompanying them is Scythe, the warrior. A fierce and somewhat amoral fighter who previously cared only about survival, she's only helping Keegan because her lover, the noble-hearted Norr, believes in the young wizard, who once used magic to save Norr's life. The fact that she doesn't believe like the others is part of what makes her such an intriguing character to read about. Her quick temper and temperamental nature make her somewhat unpredictable. Plus, I love her cocky attitude... she's my personal favorite :-)
On the other side of the world is Cassandra, the prophet. Raised by warrior monks to defend the world against Daemron and the dark magic of Chaos, she now finds herself running from the very order she once served. She has the Crown, which the Order had guarded for generations, and the order will do anything to get it back. While she believes she's meant to have the Crown and use it to save the world, the Order sees her as a traitor and begin a horrifying Inquisition in order to flush her out. Not only that, but her old master, the dark wizard Rexol, has found a way to penetrate her mind, and so she regularly wrestles with having his voice in her head.
We're also introduced to Shalana, a leader among the barbarian tribes (and a member of Norr's former tribe). She's a powerful presence who very quickly makes her mark on the saga (and she's also this book's cover girl).
All the various forces at play, each with different motivations and tactics, make this a difficult book to sum up. Reading these plots is like watching a giant game of chess... well, a version with at least four or five players. Yet, despite the complexities, it's not a hard story to follow. Each character has such a clear point of view that it's easy to see what they want and why they're doing what they're doing. The minions of Daemron are following his orders to guide the Children of Fire on a path that will lead them to set him free. The Danaan people pursue their wayward prince in order to reclaim a national treasure and punish the one who wreaked havoc upon one of their towns. The fanatical Order sees any and all magic, which draws from Chaos, as a threat, and, in their zealous efforts to save the world from evil, end up terrorizing the very world they're supposed to save.
The questions of right and wrong become plenty muddled as opposing forces, each believing themselves to be in the right, clash over the fate of the world. Other than those who follow Daemron, it's hardly ever clear who's good and who's evil. These moral complexities, coupled with the intricate, intertwining plot, are part of what make this book so riveting. After eye-guzzling most of the first book in a day, I dove straight into this one and spent every spare moment eye-guzzling it as well.
The feel and pacing of The Scorched Earth is different from Children of Fire because while Book 1 covered 20-odd years, Book 2 takes place over the course of a few months. The pacing isn't as break-neck as in the first one; this time, the story takes its time in depicting the rich cultural fabric of the world. And yet it never felt slow either, with all its battles, chases, fights with demons, and tense diplomacy. Also, this is dark, dark fantasy... not for the faint of heart, with its demonic rituals and the devastating horrors of war. I'm usually pretty squeamish, but I really liked the darkness in this book because it gave the story a visceral feel. It ends on something of a cliffhanger, and I'm just glad I had the third book nearby so I wouldn't have to wait to find out what happens next...
One item of note is the point of views you get in this story. The first book had people complaining about or liking it. Most stories will give you one point of view. Fantasy stories tend towards 2 (as the main character almost always gets separated from the rest of the group helping him) and some will give more. But this story had 15 or 16 points of view (though it was mostly the main 7) and you get multiple points of view in the same chapter referring to the same action. I for one like it as some questions you get when reading stories (did that other person think of this, why are they doing this, etc) are answered. One character likes another, you can get the other characters thoughts on this as well. I think it helps this story and makes it stand out on its own over the so many other fantasy stories.
If you liked Children of Fire, you will like this continuation as well. If you have not read Children of Fire, read that first (this is a trilogy after all) and read the comments there as well. I doubt they will change much.
The easiest way to determine if you will like this novel is to ask yourself, "Did I like the first book?" _Scorched Earth_ is really just more of the same - it has similar pacing, similar events, and the same characters with most (but not all) acting the same way. Once more, nothing really happens in the first third of the book (certainly not enough to justify the thousands of words it took to get us there); then there is an event, a bunch more nothing, and finally a relatively fast-paced and exciting ending. The villains remain typical caricatures with laughable plans, but there are a few great scenes with some of the heroes to make it worth suffering through. In the end, not a lot is accomplished, some heroes and villains are dead, and the protagonists are poised to jump right into the next novel.
Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars. The Scorched Earth is a fun read, but significantly less memorable than the first book.