Author: Anthony Ryan
Publisher/Publication Date: Ace; July 5, 2016
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
Goodreads Amazon Barnes & Noble Book Depository
Synopsis from Goodreads...
Throughout the vast lands controlled by the Ironship Syndicate, nothing is more prized than the blood of drakes. Harvested from the veins of captive or hunted Reds, Green, Blues and Blacks, it can be distilled into elixirs that give fearsome powers to the rare men and women who have the ability harness them—known as the blood-blessed. But not many know the truth: that the lines of drakes are weakening. If they fail, war with the neighboring Corvantine Empire will follow swiftly. The Syndicate's last hope resides in whispers of the existence of another breed of drake, far more powerful than the rest, and the few who have been chosen by fate to seek it.
Claydon Torcreek is a petty thief and an unregistered blood-blessed, who finds himself pressed into service by the protectorate and sent to wild, uncharted territories in search of a creature he believes is little more than legend. Lizanne Lethridge is a formidable spy and assassin, facing gravest danger on an espionage mission deep into the heart of enemy territory. And Corrick Hilemore is the second lieutenant of an ironship, whose pursuit of ruthless brigands leads him to a far greater threat at the edge of the world. As lives and empires clash and intertwine, as the unknown and the known collide, all three must fight to turn the tide of a coming war, or drown in its wake...
After a string of bad fantasy books this year, I had very high hopes that The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan would be a turning point. Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing inherently bad about The Waking Fire. The first chapters of this book were just alright. They were a little slow, but after that, the story found its pace and evened out as the main conflict of the novel took shape. At that point, it was easier to get into the story, and I ended up enjoying the overall plot (plus the dragons). So, in this case, I’m glad that I stuck with it.
The Waking Fire was about Drakes and their blood. However, with every limited resources the well was bound to start drying up, and The Waking Fire begins at this point—where the potency of the Drake blood has significantly reduced over time, while the use of it by the blood-blessed still increased. The Waking Fire was very much a story about the solution to the problem and the troubles that plagued that goal.
The system of magic was setup in an interesting way, with the blood-blessed being so dependent on the drakes. Their abilities weren’t limitless, and I did like how Ryan set the limitations and used them consistently throughout the novel. There was also no shortage of action interwoven with the more informative chapters, but at some parts the story slowed to a crawl. It did pick back up again, so, that wasn’t too bad to get through. Plus, there wasn't a lack of dragons (drakes). They popped up in the novel from beginning to end, and were probably one of the most present parts of the story.
There were a lot of characters, but the primary cast was given their own perspectives. So it was easy to tell who took center stage, and who was a secondary character. They all came from different backgrounds with their own pasts, worries, and abilities. Cladydon Torcreek’s story wasn’t bad, and I liked it as much as I did Lizanne Lethridge’s individual plot—mainly because how the two perspectives ended up connecting. Corrick Hilmore’s side of things was also pretty interesting—plus, the majority of his perspective was set on a ship at sea.
I could tell that The Waking Fire was the opening to a series. The ending was relatively open. It answered few questions and ultimately introduced others. The Waking Fire served its purpose by establishing the story, the rules of the abilities and society, and introduced the key players. The groundworks have been laid, and I’m interested in seeing where it leads. Overall: not a bad beginning.
This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (Publisher) for this review, thank you!
Anthony Ryan was born in Scotland in 1970 but spent much of his adult life living and working in London. After a long career in the British Civil Service he took up writing full time after the success of his first novel Blood Song, Book One of the Raven’s Shadow trilogy. He has a degree in history, and his interests include art, science and the unending quest for the perfect pint of real ale...