The Fire Prince is
the second book in Emily Gees "The Cursed Kingdom" trilogy, which started
with The Sentinel Mage. Solaris is an unusual publishing house in that it is
prepared to let its authors take their time in delivering books rather than publishing to
a deadline. I mention this only because the first instalment in this trilogy came out in
2011 and the second was published this year. This reviewer is hoping that the delay
between books for the final chapter in the story wont be as long, but is resigned to
waiting if that means the quality of the story telling remains up to the current standard
of the first two volumes.
The Fire Prince continues the related tales of
Prince Harkeld (the titular fire prince), his sister Brigitta, and orphan boy Jaumé as
they separately contend with the upheavals caused by the Curse of Ivek. Harkeld has the
seemingly easy task of travelling to three standing stones where he just needs to place
his hands and spill some blood on the stones to stop the curse. However, are each stone is
sited at least one thousand kilometre intervals from each other and are protected by
magical traps placed by Ivek. To further enliven the trip Harkeld is being pursued by
assassins who want his hands and blood, as that is all that is needed to be placed on the
stones, commissioned by his power-hungry father. Brigitta is being used a pawn in her
fathers diplomatic manoeuvrings; causing her to secretly rebel and undermine those
schemes at great risk to herself. Meanwhile Jaumé has witnessed the effects of the curse,
losing his family to his fathers curse-induced madness and fleeing the slowly
advancing curse front.
Emily Gee has done a great job turning a simple quest story into a tale of
intrigue and revenge. The characters are people I cared about, and she is not averse to
killing of important characters if that will advance the dramatic arc of the story. Most
appealingly, the characters, not just the three principal viewpoint characters, are
growing and changing as the story has developed becoming more interesting people as the
books progress; Harkeld and his travelling companions are different, more complex people
at the end of each book for which Ms Gee should be applauded.
Given the ending to book two, it is no sure thing that Harkeld will live
to see the end of his quest. Regrettably, I now have to wait for book three to see how the
full story unfolds. And I am not happy with that wait.