Flame of Surrender
Coscom Entertainment (10/6/11)
YA / Paranormal Romance / Fantasy
I am terrible with names. If you’ve hung around here for a while, you might have seen my posts regarding actors who I refer to by their previous character’s name or by some inevitably vaguely inappropriate moniker. You’d think this would prevent me from enjoying high fantasy, which as some sort of unspoken rule, must have weird, nearly unpronounceable names for everything. Yet I’m also a sucker for some great world building and high fantasy requires that in spades. And elves are pretty cool too.
Flame of Surrender is about two teenagers – Kaliel, an unusual girl with a predilection for swimming with dangerous creatures and talking to trees, and Krishani, a seemingly hopeless case who is haunted by dreams of death. Theirs is a written-in-the-stars sort of romance, but more of the Romeo and Juliet sort, not a happily ever after. Their home of Avristar is full of elven people and is generally regarded as safe after the evil Valtanyana were defeated many years before. They are separated from the wars in the Land of Men by a body of water always referred to as a lake (but Avristar is supposed to be an island). Yet trouble is coming and everything is falling apart because of the impetuous and epic love of Kaliel and Krishani. Cue dramatic music and moody interlude.
It’s been awhile since I dove into a book that not only truly creates its own world, but really would benefit from the inclusion of a map of said world (see previous confusion about the lake/ocean). Rhiannon Paille has created a complex world in Flame of Surrender with its own history and social structures. Without the use of a lot of exposition, though, some of the more intricate details of this world stay murky, but it doesn’t really matter. At the center of this story is a romance that’s supposed to feel epic and, for the most part, it achieved that goal. There were a few instances where the sudden and/or seemingly unnecessary mood changes would leave me confused and doubting that this was anything more than an adolescent relationship, not something written in the stars.
Despite the wonderfully created world, I did have a few issues with Flame of Surrender, predominantly when it came to keeping time within the story itself. A number of years passed over the course of the 300+ pages, but I wouldn’t have known except for the occasional mention of how long the protagonist had been in a particular location. There never felt like a lot of time had gone by because things didn’t seem to change much within the time span we weren’t seeing. Relationships hadn’t really grown and situations hadn’t really changed. Without the mentions of passing time, I would have felt this entire story had occurred in a matter of weeks, perhaps months, but definitely not over a couple of years. Our lead character, Kaliel never seemed to mature or change with the exception of acknowledging her existence as a flame. Even then she still remained the weepy heroine until nearly the very end.
Because of that, I wish more time had been spent on Krishani, his real history and how that affects the use of his powers. As a member of the Brotherhood, he has the ability to affect the land and use the elements to his advantage except he can’t control his powers like everyone else in the Brotherhood. While we follow him on his path as he tries again to control his powers, the book moved so quickly once Krishani’s real destiny was revealed that I felt I never really got to see how it all tied together. Even in his doubt and fears, he was a strong character with principles that never got on my nerves for crying all the time. Then again, I’m probably never going say the romance melodrama in any book is my favorite part.
The novel, the first in a series of course, also felt like it was spinning its wheels for a while in the middle. I worried for quite some time that this would end up being setup for the larger series without any sort of climax or conclusion, but I was proven wrong. While I won’t spoil the ending, it surprised me and the descriptions Paille used to describe a sort of metamorphosis were pretty amazing. It leaves me wondering how the next book will piece together with Flame of Surrender, though I have no doubt that Paille will surprise me. I just hope that the next book has more action and doesn’t spend so much time moving characters from Place A to Place B to Place C. It became a bit tedious.
And yet I still want to dive back into this world to learn more – about the Land of Men, the history behind the mermaids, how the different factions within Avristar fit together, who is this Tor person and why does the land send all its people away to fight someone else’s wars. So many things were put into place that I hope are explored in more detail further on in the series.
Overall Flame of Surrender was a very pleasant surprise. After reading a series of independently released titles that felt unfinished, it was a relief to read such a vivid and wonderfully put together world. Even with the bumps in pacing and the irritating character traits, I think Flame of Surrender is the start to a very interesting and unique fantasy series.
Fantasy with a star-crossed romance of two teenage elves whose fates will affect the entire world; unique character qualities, though a little too much melodrama; some pacing issues that made it feel very slow at times
A copy of this book was provided to me by the author in return for an honest review.