Legacy of Flame is a fantasy of politics and intrigue that relies heavily on dialogue and exposition to guide the reader through the world and history of Queen Elia and Prince Syllian of the Ice Realm. The book is not action-packed, and yet it did manage to hold my attention. I’ll attempt to unpack why herein. All opinions are my own.
RELEASE DATE: 13/05/2020
STAR RATING: 3/5 ✶
A winter queen and prince of flame, bound together by fate.
Following a deadly attack on a druid grove, twenty-five-year-old Elia Kolenikova, queen of the Ice Realm, is the first and only monarch to take a stand against the fire priest order, a reclusive band of sorcerers with unlimited power. Determined to find a way to protect druids from further violence, Elia turns to the annals of history, tracing her knowledge of fire priests back to a time when a previous Ice Queen was intimately tied to the rise of the order. There’s just one problem: what Elia reads in those accounts may not be true.
To unravel the mystery, Elia needs more than an ally—she needs a fire priest. An immortal Ice Realm prince who’s been missing from the history books for centuries.
Syllian, like his father before him, sacrificed his mortal body to be born again in flames. Two thousand years later, he’s hunted at every turn by fire priests seeking revenge for his betrayal of the order. The threat means little until a rumor reaches him: Queen Elia Kolenikova is asking questions. About fire priests, about druids, and most dangerously of all, about the truth.
Emerging from the shadows could cost Syllian his life. But if he doesn’t, the lies and propaganda of the fire priest order will cost Elia hers first.
The main highlight of this book is its world-building, which is rich with developed races, kingdoms, politics, and magic. I especially appreciated the presentation of the various factions that draw their magic from different sources, the Druids relying heavily upon tying themselves to nature in a harmonious manner to draw out their abilities.
I found the literary structure of Part 1 of this book intriguing. The author switches between Queen Elia’s present-day POV and excerpts from a novel she is reading about the Queen and King of the Ice Realm and the emergence of the Fire Priests 2000 years ago. Although I found it a bit confusing at first, this structure was an effective way to set up the plot, because it helped lay the foundation of the main theme – honesty in history and politics. The approach was novel and a compelling device to use given that the theme centered around the truth of the novel Queen Elia is reading.
With Part 2, the book transitions out of the previous structure into the present day, focusing heavily on dialogue and exposition. Prince Syllian takes the stage, and the history of the Ice Realm, the battle between mages and Fire Priests, and the truth behind the two books written about his parents are exposed through long conversations between himself, Elia, and a third character whose reveal is quite surprising. While I found the intricacies and truth of the history interesting – it did hold my attention – it is a bit of an “info-dump.” If this type of plot device, i.e. exposition through dialogue, doesn’t work for you, you may not find the plot compelling enough to hold your attention.
In terms of character development, Syllian has the most dramatic character arc. Through his explanations of the true history of the Ice Realm and the Fire Priests to Elia, he comes to realize his own contributions to the current state of affairs with the Druids. In some respects, he has repeated the “sins of the father,” emulating Casimir’s manipulation of history and reserving certain truth to serve his purposes. Granted, Syllian’s rationale for doing so was noble, but therein lies the major theme of this book – regardless of altruistic motivations, changing or massaging history lays a minefield of potential evils, ultimately resulting in situations as bad as those they were meant to avoid. Through their dialogue, Syllian is brought to this new understanding and works to rectify his sins by explaining the truth to the Druids. Unfortunately, the characters’ reactions to these realizations were difficult to believe. The realizations and their acceptance came far too easily without tension or conflict, resolving themselves simply through additional dialogue, which detracted from the authenticity of the characterization and plot.
It should be noted that, in some circles, this book was presented as a Fantasy-Romance, but it is not a Romance. This book does contain a romantic subplot that starts about two-thirds in, but it is not central to the plot, nor is it developed to a point where it significantly contributes to either character’s development.
Finally, I had a minor issue with the prose. At times the language felt “elevated,” the dialogue being “court-like.” But then it would abruptly switch to using modern colloquialisms such as “hey” or calling someone a “prick” or an “asshole,” which took me out of the world. Aside from that, I found the prose to be readable and pleasant.