Fires of the Dead by Jed Herne is a fantasy novella I read last month – my first book of the year, in fact! That’s not the only reason it’s a first for me. It’s also the first book I have downloaded from BookSirens, a provider of ARC’s similar to Netgalley.
I’ve made more of an effort to read short stories and novellas since last year. I typically pick up reasonably long books, especially fantasy ones. I definitely want to keep up interspersing some shorter reads into my normal reading schedule. It’s nice to have a little something to break up the other books I am reading, or even something I can read and enjoy in one sitting.
Based on my experience of Fires of the Dead, I’ll definitely be trying more fantasy novellas.
Fires of the Dead – Jed Herne
Fire can’t be tamed.
Wisp is a pyromancer: a magician who draws energy from fires to make his own flames. He’s also a criminal, one job away from retirement. And it can’t come bloody soon enough.
Leading his misfit crew, Wisp ventures into a charred and barren forest to find a relic that could change the realm forever. But they aren’t the only ones on the hunt, and the forest isn’t as barren as it seems …
A jaded gang leader longing for retirement
A bloodthirsty magician with a lust for power
A brutish fighter who’s smarter than he looks
A young thief desperate to prove herself
A cowardly navigator with secrets that won’t stay buried
Together, they must survive fights, fires, and folk tales that prove disturbingly real – if they don’t kill each other first.
A dark fantasy novella with a unique magic system, perfect for Joe Abercrombie or Brandon Sanderson fans wanting a fast-paced read.
A common misconception about fantasy novels is that they are all epic, thousand-page long tomes. Yes, some of them are. I’ve even read a few myself. Authors that come to mind include George R R Martin and Brandon Sanderson. Those are just two examples. Fires of the Dead proves that you don’t need to write reams of narrative to fit all the components of a classic fantasy novel into one tale.
A number of personalities shine through in the narrative, predominantly seen through the eyes of the man that recruited them all for the job, Wisp. Wisp himself is a refreshing character to read. Intent to retire on the riches the job has promised to yield, Wisp imagines it’s his last job – and about bloody time too! His brutal honesty and almost pessimist attitude add a lot of humour to the tale.
Wisp isn’t the only narrator of the tale, however, and in a couple of places, I felt his narrative voice bled through into other parts of the book not written from his perspective. Maybe there is a logical explanation for that. The characters have known each other for a while, so perhaps they have picked up each other’s speech patterns, use of slang and such. That said, the moments were few and far between, making me think it wasn’t entirely intentional. It didn’t have a huge impact on my enjoyment of the book though.
World-building, magic (in particular pyromancy), character development and an enjoyable action-packed plotline all come together in just under 200 pages. I personally loved the roguish, ramshackle nature of the band undertaking the quest to retrieve a magical relic. There’s just enough history touched upon for the reader to bond with the characters without hampering the action or clogging up the narrative with excessive detail.
Thank you to the author and BookSirens for providing me with a copy of Fires of the Dead in exchange for an honest review!