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on 28 November 2013
What a positively fascinating and original setting for a Fantasy novel! You many be forgiven for thinking this book has a historical, medieval-type setting. But, alas, you would be wrong. Well, at least, you'd only be half right. You see, it's actually futuristic! Set in a dystopian society in the not-too-distant future, held captive under a forcefield dome thingy in some re-imagined version of King Author's Camelot! Now if that's not original, I don't know what is. The only difference with this version of the mythical Utopian realm, is that it's as fake as a Hollywood smile, and full of incongruous, out-of-place modern conveniences, like electricity and communication devices. Why? Oh, who knows... Because the tyrannical ruler, King Hart, felt like it one day? He had a vision of the perfect society - complete with adopted speech patterns and dialect, authentic clothing, knights and fair maidens, etc, etc. Only the problem with things that are fake, false and forced, is that their lustre wears off all-too-quickly, and soon only ugliness can be found where once held allure. As is the case in FIREBLOOD.

Naturally, the person to untangle this maniacal mess is our main character, Zara, or, Princess Zara, as she's soon called, after being called upon at the beginning of the story to be the Crown Prince's new bride-to-be, whether she wants to or not. And she most assuredly does not. With the royal guards beating down her door, however, she has little choice, and is soon sequestered in the Prince's keep. But what of the prince? Can he be as bad as she's always believed? And what of the Prince's first knight, Devlan, and they way he makes her feel? It's a tangled web, to be sure, but one that held this reader's attention fast and firm throughout.

I enjoyed Zara's character quite a bit. She did confuse me on occasion, though. Particularly at the beginning of the book when she seemed to swing erratically between outspoken objector, and demure subservient. Her backbone seemed to come and go with the wind, which was odd. Nevertheless, she made tremendous progress as the story progressed and was a heroine worth championing by the end, which is what counts, right?

I have to say, it was very satisfying in how neatly FIREBLOOD was wrapped up. So much so, in fact, that I was actually surprised to note that it's slated to be a series rather than a standalone title. I think it certainly works well as a standalone and could be read as such, and I can only guess and what other torments the author has in store for her characters in future instalments!

To sum up, while not a perfect novel by any means, FIREBLOOD was an original enough worldbuilding concept, with diverse and unpredictable characters, to have me awarding it a very healthy 4 stars.

Great fun!

4 Stars ★★★★
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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on 24 January 2014
Warning: Rant Ahead

I believe this is my second DNF review. I really tried to give this book a chance instead of just bailing out but by the time I got to 36% nothing seemed to be working for me. I did not like this book. In fact I made more notes in the 36% I had read than I usually do for an entire book.

Right off the bat the setting is one of my biggest issues. I don't know much about Camelot and while I really like King Arthur's legend, I don't actually know anything about the city so I cannot comment on that but what I can say is that this setting reminds me of why dystopias stopped working for me ages ago (with a couple of exceptions of course). Everything is BLACK AND WHITE. There is good and there is bad and there seems to be no grey in between. What more is the backwardness of the whole situation. I've seen a couple of other books do this and I think it's time to address this issue. Why does the future seem so backward? We've all come so far and personally, I find it hard to imagine that we would turn back to our `Victorian' ways of treating women like crap and all the other things that come along with it. That just doesn't happen. These are humans we are talking about; we are all obsessed with progression. To add to that, let's not forget the whole `learn from past mistakes'. We all know how that worked out in the past don't we? Which is to say it didn't work at all. Don't tell me they don't expect a revolution when that is exactly what happened the last time around.

The main character was a mess. She has been given a so called privilege any girl in this kingdom would want. Let's start with that. So somehow she is the only one who understands the true evil behind this so called honor while the other females are incredibly dim-witted. There could be an explanation later on in the book but there was nothing in the first 36%. Moving on, so again, she is a speshul snowflake and gets chosen by some sort of magic, of course, the prince does explain why he chose her and HOW he chose her; she seemed to walk in a certain way that made her stand out and because she was different. How do you deduce that by basically watching someone on your camera thingo? For reals man? I'll get back to the prince later, but back to the girl, she is extremely RECKLESS. There is a thin line between smart and stupid and she is DEFINTIELY stupid. She basically asks the maid for help. Did she even think twice about the consequences? What if she had decided to report her, she'd have been as good as dead. Let's not even talk about her insta-lust and her tendency to trust the Prince's first knight. She thinks the prince is `evil' but trusts his first knight. Please.

Going back to our lovely prince, he is your usual cliché. `I DON'T WANT TO BE A PRINCE, I WISH I WAS NORMAL'. Shut it. While you're at it, please man up. Seriously, he is getting married so he can avoid his princely duties. Let's not even talk about him, let's talk about his loyal and faithful NOT first knight. I cannot even. Seriously. So somehow, this guy, who has sworn to protect his prince, is already attracted to his wife and is basically helping her escape. Well then, we know where his loyalties lie don't we? Let's hope that if I were ever a prince, he wouldn't be my first knight because I am sure I wouldn't be able to count on him.

The romance had just started to develop when I DNFed this book but there were already tons of problems with it. For starters the goddamn insta love. I hate insta-love from the very bottom of my very black heart, what I hate even more is the love triangle, but funnily enough the love triangle wasn't really much of an issue since we all knew who she would choose even at that rather early point. Going back to the insta love; seriously man. They just met, like the first day, and all these cheesy things are being said. I am just going quote and let you guys decide, now remember it has only been a day.

"...and the heat of his body sends a current zipping along my skin."

That quote was actually FROM the day they met, when she should have considered him her enemy.

"That's the first I've seen of your true smile."

There is so much more I can say but I am just going to sum up everything in a couple of words because I am too riled up at this point to go into more details.

Here is a brief overview of everything; you have our wonderful main character, Zara, who pretends to have a backbone but she is actually a mary sue who needs to be saved, probably from herself. You have Prince Sebastian who is a poor baby; he doesn't want to be a king you know? You have First Knight, Sir Devlan Capra who is so loyal it hurts. Add in a bad romance and shaky world building and there you have it.
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on 18 November 2013
The land has been destroyed and is filled with monsters, and Karm is the only safe place as it is protected by a barrier, and the king has ruled that it should be inspired on the medieval world of Camelot. Zara Dane has been hiding the fact that her father has The Virus, an illness which kills everyone in Karm, when she is chosen by Prince Sebastian to be his bride. Her father is sent away and she is forced to stay in the castle, under the watchful eye of the first knight, Sir Devlan, but all Zara wants to do is run away and find her father before it is too late. As Zara gets to know the people in the castle, she is drawn into the rebellion against the King, but should she trust their plan or the spark of good she sees in Sebastian?

Fireblood is a brilliant book as it is a dystopia but reads and feels like a fantasy which is really unusual. The plot is fast paced and engaging, and has the right mixture of betrayals, romance and action.

All the characters are really complex, but especially Zara as she strong-willed and determined to protect those she cares about, and while her judgement may not always be right, her decisions are made with a good heart. The romance in Fireblood is good as it developed at a steady pace, however, it was a bit predictable as it was obvious which person Zara would fall for, but it was much better than the love triangle it seemed like it was going to be. Sebastian was an interesting character as at some points I hated him, but at others I sympathised and understood him. Devlan is a strong, kind and loyal person, and I would have loved to have some chapters from his perspective to see what he was thinking.

I loved this book and I hope there is more stories from this world, although the way it ended it does not need another to wrap up any loose ends. I will be reading more books by Wolfe and I would recommend Fireblood to fans of The Selection series, The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy and Throne of Glass.
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