The Fire King
I haven’t yet caught up on all the Dirk and Steele stories, but I’m working on it. Liu has so far been very consistent at delivering interesting and well-done stories and The Fire King is no different. We again enter a world of unique abilities and this time we encounter a new kind of shapeshifter.
Soria hasn’t worked for Dirk and Steele since the incident that claimed her arm. But when her former boss and boyfriend, Roland, requests her help, her curiosity gets the better of her. Because I haven’t read all the books, I don’t know if what happened to Soria or her relationship with Roland were covered in previous installments, but the information trickles in. She’s been wounded badly, both physically and emotionally, and is still angry at Roland for not visiting her while she was hurt. She feels betrayed and doesn’t know if she can fully trust Dirk and Steele’s boss anymore. Despite her hurt feelings, however, she accepts a job and heads to Asia.
Soria has the gift of understanding any language. When a dangerous man is found who no one can understand, they send her in to see who he is and what his plans are. She eventually fits some puzzle pieces together and learns that the man was actually found in an ancient tomb. He suddenly came to life and killed quite a few people. The reason no one can understand him is that he was alive three thousand years ago and his language is long dead. Soria’s gift is some form of telepathy; she needs to be near the people she’s communicating with so she can absorb their language and use it. When she sees how the man is being kept, shackled so thoroughly that he’s one big sore, she’s infuriated and tries to get him better treatment. This doesn’t work too well, since everyone is terrified of him and he’s not cooperating with Soria, refusing to give up any information.
Things change dramatically, however, when a bunch of mercenaries attack their location, clearly trying to get the man and Soria. In a bold move, she frees him and together they escape. Finally, the man gives her his name, Karr, and he grudgingly accepts her company, since she’s his only link to a world that is incredibly different from the one he knew. Soria finds herself in the middle of a battle that has raged for millennia. Karr is a shapeshifter, but he is obviously different than any other shifter she’s met. He becomes two types of animals, a lion and a dragon. Known as a chimera, he is the child of two different species of shifters, something that has always been strictly forbidden. Chimeras and shapeshifters have been killing each other since the beginning and time hasn’t changed anything.
So, people are chasing Karr and Soria and they’re trying to figure out what happened to him, how he could die so long ago and yet still be alive. They also learn each other’s secrets as they come to trust one another and finally find the comfort and peace they need. The action was fun and interesting, though the blindly prejudiced war did seem too familiar at times. There were times that I wanted more appearances from other characters of the series. They would make brief cameos or would rush in and out of scenes, and I just wish there had been a bit more interaction. I guess that means I wasn’t as absorbed in the main characters as I could have been. Still, the relationship between Karr and Soria was nice and sweet, and the missing limb was an interesting aspect, bringing some depth to the budding romance.
I wasn’t blown away by The Fire King, but this was another solid installment in the Dirk and Steele series. The story moved at a good pace, was interesting, and had a satisfactory romance. I’ll continue to catch up on what I’ve missed in the series and I look forward to seeing what else this author will do.