Breath of Fire
There’s a lot of urban fantasy and paranormal romance out there on shelves now, but a good fantasy romance is harder to find. Readers of Breath of Fire won’t find werewolves, vampires, or edgy, streetwise leads, but if you like dragons and epic, otherworldly tales, this book tells a wonderful story.
I can only summarize the plot very briefly because the story is filled with unexpected twists and turns which readers should have the pleasure of discovering on their own. Finding my way through the world created by the author was one of the major delights of this book and it should not be ruined.
As the book opens, Karl, an Initiate soon to take his vows and enter the Mattaen, comes upon a village about to sacrifice a virgin to a dragon. Having been taught that dragons aren’t real and scoffing at the ignorance of the villagers, Karl volunteers to take the maiden’s place. He allows himself to be chained to the cliff in the young woman’s stead, chuckling to himself. At this point, he learns rather quickly that dragons are indeed real – and they have lots of sharp teeth.
Fortunately for Karl, he is not alone at the cliff. The dragonslayer Elera has come along just in time, and she takes care of the dragon for him. She then claims Karl as her prize. In order to prevent Elera from punishing the village for being unable to pay her price, Karl agrees to pass a night with Elera, provided that she does not require him to do anything that would forfeit his Mattaen vows.
The initial sequence between Karl and Elera was a little awkward, and their relationship seems to start a little too quickly to be believable. Given the limited page count, I can see why the author needed to speed things up in order to be able to tell her story, but some of the barriers between Karl and Elera’s worlds are overcome with astonishing speed.
Without spoiling the story, suffice it to say that Karl and Elera embark on some amazing adventures. Each learns that their two worlds are not quite what they initially seem, and, in addition to building a relationship, the two characters learn a lot about themselves. Though a few of the middle chapters lagged a bit for me, once the story really hit its stride, I enjoyed seeing how Karl and Elera grew as people over the course of the novel. Their own individual growth also enhanced them as a couple and, though it’s not all smooth sailing, the relationship they build by the end of the book is one of those happy endings that makes me smile because I believe these two are genuinely happy.
The worldbuilding in this book is also fabulous. Both Karl and Elera come from rather complex worlds and the author does a good job of making these places seem real. I could almost visualize the landscapes in my head and their histories ran plausibly through the story. The author also manages to lay out the rules of her setting without resorting to infodumps that pull one out of the story.
Though it has a rough spot or two, I enjoyed Breath of Fire very much. I understand that the author is working on a sequel set in this same world, and I very much look forward to reading it. If you enjoy a good fantasy with your romance, this is definitely a book to put on your list.