Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

The Fire Prince The Fire Prince
by Emily Gee
Solaris Books

Supplied for review by Solaris Books

Reviewed By: Simon Litten

The Fire Prince is the second book in Emily Gee’s "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 won’t 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 father’s 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 father’s 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.

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