Thursday, September 26, 2013

Soul of Fire

So after reading Laura Anne Gilman's Heart of Briar, I couldn't wait for the sequel, Soul of Fire.  I preordered it on my Kindle, and was super excited to get the book a week earlier than expected from Amazon.  I dove right into the story, eager to see what happened to Jan and company.

I have to say, I was rather disappointed in Gilman's Soul of Fire. Having finished it, it reminded me of the way I felt after reading Philip Pullman's The Subtle Knife: at the end of The Golden Compass, Pullman could take the story literally anywhere.  Unfortunately the place he chose to go with it was so boring I was extremely disappointed.  While Gilman wasn't in the same boat as that (Heart of Briar wasn't nearly as open-ended as The Golden Compass), I still feel very unsatisfied with how the story played out.

I'm going to give a spoiler alert here.  I want to talk about this book in more detail.

A good part of the problem, in my opinion, with Soul of Fire was similar to my issue in Matt Forbeck's Brave New World: Revelation.  There were a lot of characters introduced, many of whom were minor characters, making it hard to keep track of who was who, especially when supernatural creature names were thrown into the mix, often without a real explanation of what they looked like.  To make this even worse, many of these minor characters were killed off (like the cops who went missing), reminding me an awful lot of Darth Maul, Shadow Hunter by Michael Reaves (which is not a book you want to be reminding me of).
With a whole mass of characters, it is hard to give the ones I actually cared about (mainly Jan and Martin) enough screen time.  On top of that, it took a while for Jan to actually start doing something (reminding me of Katniss' daze in Mockingjay, even though she wasn't actually dazed).  And then when she, Martin and Tyler go off against AJ's express orders, they end up hanging out with the missing Preternatural Queen for awhile while almost everyone else seemed to be doing more.  Now don't get me wrong, the Queen was interesting, but overall this part of the book seemed to slog on.

The book ended with a couple of big fights (which Jan was mostly not a part of because she doesn't really fight), then with the Queen agreeing to go back to her Court.  The book kept insisting that there needed to be a balance between the Preternaturals and the Earthlings, so the Queen pretty much just left with little fuss in order to restore the natural order of things.  After that, a shell-shocked Jan is left trying to move on with her life as best she can.  All in all, this wasn't a very satisfying ending.  Especially since Jan didn't end up with either Tyler or Martin.  Yes, I was biased; this novel was published by the Harlequin Luna Books imprint, so I was expecting something a bit more than "well, Tyler left.  The end."  (And yes, I realize ending up with a kelpie might not be great news for Jan, but Martin did seem to be a love interest of sorts.  And one who was interesting and really seemed to like her.  I won't lie, I was hoping they'd end up together).

So yes, I found Soul of Fire rather disappointing.  Which is too bad, because I like the world, many of the characters, and the creatures who inhabit Gilman's Portals duology.   

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