Title: The Fire’s Stone
Author: Tanya Huff
Cover artist: n/a
Publisher: Jabberwocky Literary Agency
Amazon: Buy Link The Fire’s Stone
Genre: YA fantasy
Length: 287 pages
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
A guest review by Sirius
Summary: Here we have a pretty usual fantasy quest, but with awesome characters and an understated but emotionally satisfying love story.
A wizard, a drunkard, and a thief – three strangers who must learn to work together or Ischia is lost beneath a sea of lava. But Aaron, the thief, is hiding more than stolen jewels. Chandra, the wizard, is running from a political marriage. And Darvish, the prince Chandra is intended to marry and the man Aaron has hidden the most from, well, Darvish really needs a drink. Before they can hope to save Ischia, they must save themselves.
I kept hearing from my friends that Tanya Huff is a writer I should read, but I kept being distracted by other shiny new books all the time. Recently a friend mentioned that one of her early novels had been reissued for Kindle, so I decided that this is a good sign that I should start getting myself acquainted with her works. I am so happy with my decision; I thought this book was a great buy for me. If you are a fantasy lover like I am, I am sure you will notice pretty fast that the plot is not complicated and quite predictable. Three main characters in effect go on a hunt for stolen treasure, because the safety of the whole country depends on the treasure being returned home. One of the villains is awkwardly revealed in the middle of the story (because we are treated to a section from his POV where he in fact says that he did it), and another villain is pretty easily guessed. So, no I did not think that the plot was sophisticated, quite the contrary. Neither did I think that the world building was intricate – I would say it reminded me somewhat of the world building in Disney’s Alladin for some reason, that should give you some idea :).
Having said all that, I enjoyed the story so much and I enjoyed it because of the three main characters, who are multilayered, interesting, have some deep flaws (at least some of them do) and who grow and mature during the story. In fact, I was really impressed how the author used the predictable and simplistic plot to tell the story of the character growth for all three of them and to interweave one of the sweetest love stories in it too. All three of them undergo their own personal journey and at the same time they do it together. I thought that Darvish was battling the most serious character flaw, and I thought the writer handled it quite nicely. I really liked this character and him battling the addiction did not stop me from thinking of him as a “human being” worthy of love and respect. Chandra is, well, I would say that especially for the early 1990s she is an unusual character for YA fantasy. I was impressed with the strength of her will and her determination to stick with the goals she wanted to achieve. I thought that the writer achieved something very interesting with her – Chandra has to learn that her goals should not be achieved at the expense of loyalty to the friends, but at the same time the writer does not make her give up her goals, in fact a creative solution is found to help her achieve them. I am sorry for being so cryptic, but as I said above the plot is not very sophisticated and really small revelations could be looked at as spoilers. Aaron is the character with whom the story started according to the writer in the foreword to the kindle edition of the story.
“The Fire’s Stone began with Aaron. Concerned that my characters were just a little too well balanced, I sat down to create a TFUC, a Truly F*cked Up Character. Character created, I built an exotic city for him to run away to, I made him the best at what he’d become, and then… I took it all away”.
This is the character deeply tortured by his past and who of course has some bad memories to relive from time to time and some angst to do, but really not that much in general, because the story is the action/adventure quest at heart, and Aaron needs to act, not just suffer all the time. I think that the balance of tortured past and strength was very well done and when Aaron is hurting it has all the more impact than if he would be thinking about it for pages and pages and pages. I was wondering whether Aaron’s journey was the easiest one, but then I decided that not at all – letting go of the past and accepting himself and his desires is not easy at all for him.
“Chandra propped the damaged door closed and, wiping her cheeks dry, climbed thoughtfully back into bed. In her opinion, the best thing for both of them now would be to admit how they each felt about the other and go on together from now on.
There are no sex scenes in this book – it is YA and published in 1989 (or 1990, not sure), but I thought the chemistry between Darvish and Aaron was quite visible without any sex scenes and conclusion was quite satisfactory for the time it was written. It is as happy as it could get, do not worry 🙂
The book is not a menage, do not worry. I do not want to say more for the fear of spoilers, but at the end of the book the guys and the girl are good friends who are stuck with each other based on their own choices, but the love is strictly between two guys.