Peter R. Ellis' Cold Fire was published by Elsewhen Press in a digital edition in August 2017 and in a paperback edition in October 2017.
Information about Peter R. Ellis:
Peter would like to say he’s been a writer all his life but it is only since retiring as a teacher in 2010 that he has been able to devote enough time to writing to call it a career. Brought up in Cardiff, he studied Chemical Physics at the University of Kent at Canterbury, then taught chemistry (and a bit of physics) in Norwich, the Isle of Wight and Thames Valley. His first experience of publishing was in writing educational materials which he has continued to do since retiring. Of his fictional writing, Seventh Child is his first published speculative fiction novel.
Peter has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy since he was young, has an (almost) complete collection of classic SF by Asimov, Ballard, Clarke, Heinlein and Niven, among others, while also enjoying fantasy by Tolkien, Donaldson and Ursula Le Guin. Of more recent authors Iain M Banks, Alastair Reynolds and China Mieville have his greatest respect. His Welsh upbringing also engendered a love of the language (even though he can’t speak it) and of Welsh mythology like the Mabinogion. All these strands come together in the Evil Above the Stars series. He lives in Herefordshire with his wife, Alison, who is a great supporter.
Click here to visit his official website.
Information about Cold Fire:
A September Weekes novel
London, 1680. The famous philosopher, Sir Robert Boyle, is about to demonstrate the results of his investigations of the phosphorus and its cold fire to fellows of the Royal Society and other guests. Far away at the edge of Wales an alchemist learns of the discovery and, helped by his young assistant, attempts in his own way to form the mysterious material, little suspecting that his work threatens to open the universe to the evil power of the Malevolence.
Summoned by the Brains, September, the Cludydd o Maengolauseren, arrives charged with halting the Malevolence’s storm of destruction. But how? She finds herself out of her time and in a world not quite her own. Nevertheless her experience of the Malevolence tells her that she must do something. The fantastic beasts she encounters may come to her aid, if she can work out how to save them from the Cold Fire.
For September, hardly any time has passed since she was trying to save Gwlad in Peter R. Ellis’ thrilling fantasy series Evil Above the Stars. Now, in the first of the September Weekes novels, she appears to be closer to home, at least in space if not time. But not everything is as she’d expect it, and she still seems to be wearing her school uniform! Combining science, fantasy and adventure, this is a novel truly worthy of the designation Speculative Fiction.
A REVIEW OF PETER R. ELLIS' COLD FIRE
Ah, what a pleasure it was to read again about September Weekes! It's great that Peter R. Ellis has written a new novel about her, because she's an interesting protagonist and it's fascinating to read about her adventures. I was positively surprised by the quality of this novel, because it's intriguing entertainment with plenty of old-fashioned charm, which is seldom found in new fantasy novels.
Cold Fire marks the beginning of the September Weekes series, which continues the adventures of September Weeks who was introduced to readers in the Evil Above the Stars trilogy. This novel is just as good and interesting as the previous instalments and will satisfy everyone who has read them.
In case there are readers out there who are wondering if Cold Fire can be read as a standalone novel, I can say that it's possible to read it as a standalone novel. It serves as a good and interesting entry point to the world of September Weekes. Although this novel has many things in common with the previous novels, it's a whole new adventure and newcomers will be able to enjoy it.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
An assistant boy, Aeddon, is asked by his Master, an alchemist called Ezekiel Soulbury, to obtain a goodly amount of urine, because he wants to do experiments. Ezekiel is intrigued by the Phosphorus which glows brightly, but gives no warmth, because he has heard about it from his cousin... When Ezekiel obtains the urine, he sets out to do his experiments, but fails because of misinterpreting his cousin's scribble. He comes to the conclusion that he needs the urine of a special creature. He believes that he needs the urine of a unicorn in order to succeed in his experiments. Soon Ezekiel sets out on a quest to find a unicorn... September finds herself in a strange place and meets a Cemegwr, a manifestations of the Brains, who is known as John Henshaw. She hears that she has arrived in London and the year is 1680. A stirring in the Malevolence has brought her there. She learns that she's not in her universe, but in a different universe where certain aspects of the history are the same while others are different. Soon she finds out that Ezekiel's experiments have opened the way for the evil power of the Malevolence...
This is the beginning of a well-told fantasy story that will intrigue adult and young adults readers alike. As the begins to unfolds, you'll find yourself immersed in it and want to find what happens to September and the others.
The characterisation is good and works well. I like the author's way of writingly fluently about his characters and their adventures. His characters are resourceful and remind me a bit of the characters found in Enid Blyton's novels.
September Weekes is a 16 year old schoolgirl whose destiny is to fight against the Malevolence (she's the Cludydd o Maengolauseren). She has fought against the Malevolence many times, but now the threat is much closer to home and she finds herself wondering how to defeat the evil this time.
Ezekiel Soulbury lives and works in an old abbey near the village of Llanllionio and the towm Trefycymer. Although he has the desire to learn about the world, he is dabbling in dark arts. Ezekeli has the putti, the cherubs, in his use. They are winged creatures that hover and flap their wings and twitter in a bird-like language (I won't write more about the putti, but I can mention that what is revealed about them and their purpose is interesting).
Aeddon is a boy who assists Ezekiel. He has lost his parents because of a dragon that was summoned by Ezekiel. Ezekiel looks after him, although he is not very good or patient at it, because he is more interested in his own work than in the welfare of Aeddon.
Gwawrwen is a woman who is thought to be a witch and is shunned by the local people. She is a wise woman who knows a lot about nature and how to heal people. She has a connection with the unicorns.
The Malevolence and its utter evilness has fascinated me since the beginning of the Evil Above the Stars trilogy. The author has created an ultimate evil entity, because it consumes everything it comes in contact with and leaves destruction in its wake.
It was fascinating to read about how September communicated with the creatures, because she co-operated with them and tried to save them. The author writes well about how September and the creatures do their best to oppose the evil, although their chances of defeating it are small.
Cold Fire combines elements of fantasy and science fiction in an entertaining way. The author writes intriguingly about the alternate England and what happens there, because his vision of the world is interesting. Such fantastical creatures as mermaids, unicorns and dragons inhabit the world, but they avoid man's domain and can be found in the wild areas where men are scarce and where they are safe from harm.
The author writes well about the disappearance of unicorns and dragons and reveals how the growth of population has affected them. There's bittersweetness in the author's way of writing about the fate of these creatures, because mankind has made their lives difficult by driving them away and killing them.
This novel has tiny speckles of hidden wisdom underneath the story. I think that careful readers will notice how fluently the author touches upon themes of extinction, indifference and fear of the unknown, because he does it almost unnoticeably.
This novel also has a few humorous elements. I liked the author's ability to lighten the story with humour, because he uses humour in a sensible way.
It was enjoyable to read about alchemy and how phosphorus and its qualities fascinated the scientists. The author manages to convey the enthusiasm involved in the experiments to his readers in a splendid way. I think that his background as a teacher has a lot to do with this, because you get a feeling that he knows what he is writing about.
What I like most about Cold Fire and its predecessors is that each of the novels is truly intriguing and something a bit different. The Welsh elements - history, mythology, names etc - that readers have come to love in the previous novels can also be found in this novel. They're an important part of the fascination and originality of the story, because they make this novel stand out among other fantasy novels.
The glossary and the pronunciation guide are very useful to readers. If you're not familiar how to pronounce certain names, the pronunciation guide will be of interest to you.
Peter R. Ellis' Cold Fire is a charming and delightfully old-fashioned yet intriguingly modern fantasy novel. It combines the charm of classic fantasy books with modern storytelling in a successful way. If you enjoy reading classic fantasy adventures and YA fantasy stories, you'll most likely enjoy this novel, because it's a bit different kind of a fantasy novel.