Dawn of the Flame Sea by Jean Johnson
Berkley Publishing Group: April 19, 2016
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Source: Free from publisher
False start; Did not finish
Recently I read two other novels by Jean Johnson. The first one, The Terrans, I loved. The second, V’Dan, I did not enjoy as much. It spent too much time telling about the cultural differences and not enough time showing the characters’ dispositions, relationships, and growth.
This, my third attempt, resembled the second experience more than the first. At its opening, it felt very Stargate the movie. Several beings enter a desert cave through a magical portal from a foreign world. Difference: these are not human, but magic-wielding fae.
One character stands out among the multiple narrators. He’s the only human in the group, the only combat specialist with magical tattoos. He flexes his tattoos in order to release certain spells. Think that’s a bit weird? I thought so, too. Unfortunately, even though he seemed to be one of the main narrators, he was still opaque. I felt nothing for him, and nothing for any of the other narrators, either.
Just after they arrive, the group notice they are being spied on. Turns out, a group of refugees has also just entered the cave, hoping to make it their new home. In this tribe, there are also a few narrators. None of them were compelling or interesting.
The plot is about first contact (a familiar theme if you’ve read Johnson’s other books). And it is, but it’s so slow. Too much description, not enough action, intrigue, or, as I mentioned, character development.
With no compelling characters at the beginning, no exciting plot building, and my past experience with this author, I didn’t expect that to change over the course of the novel. I have too many other things to read to stick with a book that feels boring and uninviting.
If you’re really into world-building and not that into characters, you may enjoy this. If you like connecting with characters, you probably won’t.
Jennifer Fallon writes amazing fantasy – she’s one of my favorite authors. One of her series is about a very special group of individuals in a universe with multiple inhabited worlds. It’s not a light read, but is wonderfully detailed, with fascinating characters and plot.
In The Flight of the Silvers, a group of people discovers what happens when the world ends, but their lives don’t. Also set in a universe with parallel worlds, it starts with a slightly altered Earth. Want to know more? Read my review.