Friday, 23 October 2015

Irons in the Fire

Irons in the Fire

by Antonio Urias

4 out of 5

The City of Talis is a fragile beacon of civilization on the edge of the Faërie Lands. Beyond lies a wilder world of dark enchantments and terrible wonders, but behind the city walls humans and faëries live together in uneasy peace—until an explosion rocks the city and long smoldering tensions threaten to ignite.

As the Commandant of Police, Baron Hessing has maintained stability for decades. But with a murderer on the loose, an anarchist bombing the city, and rumors of a faërie uprising, he is starting to loose control. Hessing finds himself caught in a web of interlocking conspiracies and he may need to choose between saving his city or his family.

Into this maelstrom appears the Countess. Trained from birth for a single purpose—vengeance—suddenly she's everywhere from secret catacombs to the halls of power. Beset by enemies on all sides, it will take all her training to succeed in a city on the brink of revolution. Plans are in motion centuries in the making that will change the fate of Talis forever.

Irons in the Fire is the first novel in the Chronicles of Talis.

A terrorist bombing in one of the main cities leads to fear; a potential uprising; and more than a little political advantage.

I was given this book free in exchange for an honest review, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It starts off with a bang (literally), as one of the busiest gates in Talis is blown up without warning. There are faerie and human victims, along with the city officials that police the gate.

Urias quickly sets the scene for Talis and the world beyond. I was quickly convinced of the history, the humans having had control for so long; and although they allow faerie folk to reside in Talis, there is a very uneasy peace, and the faeries are treated as second-class citizens by many.

You get to experience so many levels of society in Irons in the Fire - which I think is both its strength and its weakness.
It seems to be a common problem I find in books - especially Fantasy books - that the author has been immersed in this world that they have created for so long, that they forget what it's like for a newcomer.
As far as history and atmosphere went, Urias got it spot on. But I felt dizzy jumping from one scene, with the police in one area; to the back streets of the Faerie quarter with a different cast of characters; to the palace with a slew of new characters.
Each character does have their part to play, and their own importance, but I felt a little overwhelmed with keeping track of names, species, history etc. The first half of the book jumps mercilessly between them all, like an episode of Game of Thrones.
The second half runs a lot smoother, partly because my name-recollection was finally kicking in; but mainly because the threads of all the different characters were weaving more closely together, making everything clearer by comparison.

I think my favourite thing about this book was that it's a perfect example of defying genre, it doesn't easily tick just one box.
It is an unashamed Fantasy, it has faeries and goblins, witches and imps, all very realistically presented.
But it could easily match up to any investigative thriller, as you follow the police and officials tracking down the terrorist threat.
Best of all, it has the political intrigue of any court or historical drama.

And surely I'm not the only person who imagined the Faerie Folk defiant on their barricades in Les Miserables...

I was? Ok.

I would recommend checking this book out, and I am very much looking forward to the next instalment!

Goodreads link

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