Karen Azinger's The Flame Priest was published in December 2011.
Karen Azinger is the author of The Silk & Steel Saga. Her debut book, The Steel Queen (the first book of The Silk & Steel Saga), was published in 2011.
Click here to visit Karen Azinger's official website.
Here's a description of The Flame Priest:
Heralded by a red comet, the Mordant is Reborn. A thousand years of evil hidden beneath a young man's face, the Mordant returns in the guise of his oldest enemy. Keen to regain his full powers, he weaves his way north, sowing a trail of death and deceit.
Kath and her companions leave the monastery, chasing an elusive shadow across the kingdoms of Erdhe, but the dark divide has already begun. Allies are set against allies, tearing the kingdoms asunder. A rebellion rises in Lanverness, threatening the queen's life as well as her crown.
Trapped within her own castle, the Spider Queen must out-wit the traitors led by her own blood, or surrender her kingdom to Darkness. Across the border, the Lord Raven builds a religion into a fanatical bonfire. A fiery frenzy grips Coronth, fanning the powers of the Flame Priest into a raging threat. The eternal battle of Light and Dark is joined, but few mortals understand the rules.
And here's the review:
A REVIEW OF KAREN AZINGER'S THE FLAME PRIEST
The Flame Priest continues the entertaining epic fantasy story that started in The Steel Queen. Karen Azinger doesn't disappoint her fans, because she handles several subplots fluently and the story becomes more interesting and entertaining as the story goes on.
Before I write more about this book, here's a short synopsis of the previous book (if you haven't read The Steel Queen yet, you may want to skip the next paragraph):
In the previous book Kath saw visions of ancient times and found a mysterious crystal dagger. She traveled to the Kiralynn monks with Jordan, Duncan and Blaine. Liandra fought against the threat of the Red Horns. Steffan enjoyed the gifts of the Dark Lord and helped the Pontifax to get more support for the brutal and violent religion of the Flame God. Samson fled from Coronth, but was sent back. Jordan's brother, Justin, decided to help Samson. Danly dreamed of being a king. And the Mordant was reborn.
Here's a bit of information about The Flame Priest:
In The Flame Priest Katherine (Kath) is worried about the fate of her sword-sister, Jordan. She prepares to fight against the darkness and learns how to use magic. Liandra is getting ready to face the Red Horns. She also learns how she was betrayed. Justin is in Coronth and is hoping to change the city and its people with his music and songs. Danly is anxious to become a king, because he wants it badly and wants to see her mother pay for her actions. Steffan (the Lord Raven) invents new and devious ways to make the religion of the Flame God more brutal and popular than ever before in order to please the Dark Lord. And the Mordant has his own evil plans...
Karen Azinger has developed nicely as an author, because now she writes more fluently. She clearly has a talent for epic storytelling and she's not afraid to use it. Her writing is at its best surprisingly lush and almost shamelessly entertaining (and also extremely addictive, because it's difficult to stop reading the book). The descriptions of different places and persons are now more nuanced than in the previous book and the plot has become more complex.
The character development is wonderful, because the characters are believable and they develop in exciting and interesting ways. Especially the strong female characters are worth praising, because female characters tend to be a bit weaker characters in several traditional fantasy series, but not in this series. Kath and Liandra are strong and fascinating characters (the Priestess of the Oracle is also a great character).
Reading about the evil characters is also fascinating, because they're charmingly wicked. The chapters about Steffan and the Mordant are engrossing and well written and they offer lots of entertainment to fantasy fans. I'm sure that several readers will be thrilled to read about these characters.
Character interaction also works better in The Flame Priest. For example, the scene where Danly talks to his mother about how he managed to take the throne from her and gloats about his accomplishment, is a fantastic scene. The author describes perfectly how both characters feel and act in this scene: Danly is extremely happy and isn't afraid to show it to Liandra, but Liandra refuses to show his son how shocked she is. There are also several other excellent scenes, but I don't want to reveal everything in this review.
The religion of the Flame God is one of the best and most amazing things about this book, because the author describes all the violent and nasty happenings (especially the Test of Flame) dramatically. It's easy to imagine how ecstatically the religiously fanatic people want to burn the sinners in order to prove that they're true believers. The author shows how dangerous and explosive religious zealotry can be when people surrender themselves to fanaticism and forget everything else.
Another excellent thing is that there are lots of surprises in this book. The plot is delightfully unpredictable at certain points and the author manages to avoid typical fantasy clichés, which is admirable. There are kings, queens, princesses and princes etc in this book, but the way that the author writes about these things feels fresh. (It's great that there are authors who are capable of writing this kind of traditional epic fantasy, because traditional epic fantasy is at its best very enjoyable and offers wonderful escapism for fantasy readers.)
I must also mention that it's fascinating to see how the evil characters try to please the Dark Lord. It's nice to read what they do and what consequences their actions have on other people.
The Flame Priest is a fascinating vision of an epic battle between the forces of the light and the brutal forces of the darkness. It differs nicely from several other similar books, because the author has spent time to create a complex and vast fantasy world (there are lots of small details in this book). That's why there's a lot of depth in this book.
The Flame Priest is a highly entertaining fantasy book. It's a traditional, but also modern epic fantasy book with occasional references to sex and violence. It will appeal to readers who like traditional epic fantasy series. I think that this book can also be recommended to newcomers who haven't read fantasy before, because the plot is captivating and there's plenty of adventure and plot twists.
If you enjoyed reading The Steel Queen, you must read The Flame Priest, because you won't be disappointed. It's a damn good and enjoyable fantasy book. I have to admit that I can hardly wait to read the third book.