Embers – Ronie Kendig

Okay, so let me try to give you a hook for the plot. It’s complicated and, even after reading the book, I’m not sure I understand it clearly. Haegan and Kaelyria Celahar are the royal heirs of the Nine Kingdoms. Kaelyria has the power to harness fire. Haegan is a cripple. They believe they can undo the effects of Haegan’s disability by transferring Kaelyria’s ability to Haegan, but it all goes wrong and Kaelyria gains Haegan’s disability. Now Haegan is forced to flee his father’s wrath, find a cure for Kaelyria, and stop the coming war with the omnipotent (the back cover blurb’s words, not mine) villain named Poired Dyrth.

At the outset, you can see one major problem already. Kendig appears to have crafted her fantasy names from an online generator or by gargling marbles. If I had written this book, half my time would have been spent making sure I got the names spelled correctly. Kendig vastly overuses fantasy-speak and, in general, comes across as simply trying too hard.

I think this could have been a great novel with some better direction. This is obviously a passion project for Kendig, which is why I don’t want to tear into it too much. The foundations of good storytelling are there, they’re just buried under a deluge of needless fantasy gobbledygook—whether that’s names or plot lines or unexplained features of the fantasy world. Too much in the world is left unexplained, and while that is resolved somewhat as the book progresses, it’s already too late in the game for me to care or be interested.

Having read many five star reviews, I know many people liked the novel and kudos to them for wading through the plot and figuring it all out. To me, it was overwrought and seemingly intentionally trying to go away from the writing style that has made Kendig’s military suspense thrillers popular. I’ll continue to read her military fiction, but, even though I love Christian fantasy, I’m not feeling compelled to continue this series.

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Author: Josh Olds

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