Review: Firebrand by Kristen Britain
Series: Green Rider #6
Also by this author: Mirror Sight
Published by Daw Books on February 28th 2017
Magic, danger, and adventure abound for messenger Karigan G'ladheon in author Kristen Britain's New York Times-bestselling Green Rider epic fantasy series - "First-rate fantasy." --Library Journal
Zachary Davriel Hillander, High King of Sacoridia, rues how much he has had to give up to lead his realm, including the freedom to live and love as he chooses. When an embassy from Eletia arrives to propose a joint venture between their realms to seek out an old ally in the north, he is dismayed to learn that the one Sacoridian they have in mind to accompany their guide is the woman he truly loves but cannot have: Green Rider Karigan G'ladheon. Karigan has only just returned from a dark future where Sacoridia has been conquered and is ruled by a despotic emperor, and she has not recovered in heart or mind. As if that is not enough, the castle ghosts won't leave her alone. Though Zachary is loath to part from her so soon after her return, he knows she is the best choice to undertake the mission to the north. Each step on their journey places Karigan and her companions closer to enemy territory and danger, for northward lie the forces of Second Empire, Sacoridia's longtime foe, and Grandmother, the necromantic leader of Second Empire, has not been idle. She uses her magic to summon a wild elemental spirit to wreak havoc upon Zachary and his wife, Queen Estora. At first the Sacoridians succeed in fending off the creature, but it so covets Estora that it can't stay away. It abducts Zachary, assuming his form and his place at Estora's side--but when it is finally ousted, Zachary is still missing. Estora, alone and heavy with twins, must prepare her realm for the coming conflict from the confines of her bedchamber. Meanwhile, the danger only deepens for Karigan and her companions as they journey north. When she finds herself caught in the midst of a clash between forces, Karigan must rescue and protect her king before she falls into a trap set by Grandmother--a trap that could give Second Empire the power to control the dead and all the demons of the hells.
Just a quick reminder that while my review is spoiler free for Firebrand, there are likely spoilers for the previous books.
There is something about returning to read a new book the Green Rider series that just makes me happy. Maybe it is because I this is one of the first series I read in the fantasy genre, but I just find them to be very addictive, comfort reads that make me want to curl up with it until I finish. This one was no exception.
With Firebrand, Karigan returns to her own time, so it includes many of our favorite characters from books past. I know not everyone was thrilled with the change in setting/characters/time period with the last book, though I personally really enjoyed it. For those that were less than thrilled, fear not, this book is much in line with the first 4 books in the series.
Karigan is distraught and heartbroken over leaving Cade behind. She misses him deeply and feels guilt over leaving him, not knowing if he is still alive or not. In some ways, it was overwhelming, and impacted her personality a bit. But not so much that I felt it overdone or a departure from how she should be. Poor Karigan finally found love with someone where there were no restraints, it was wonderful for her. At least not until she returned to her time.
For readers who may have found Karigan whiny in past books (not my word, but one I have seen mentioned), you may feel some of the same issues with this one. I can’t say for certain as I have always enjoyed Karigan, so it felt like a reasonable amount of upset. But this is Karigan, so you know she won’t let it keep her from doing her duty. She always finds a well of strength when needed, and it’s why I enjoy her so much. I also loved that with this book, she earns a new level of distinction amongst her peers. (Sorry, I won’t tell you what it is exactly, you’ll have to read it to find out)
It is not long until a mission comes up that requires Karigan and her unique abilities, which seems a good way to get her to focus on something other than her loss. This journey takes her toward enemy lines and is a mission that no one is sure can be completed. It’s a long-shot, but isn’t that what Karigan does best?
In the mean time, Grandmother is back and sets her evil, necromancy hands to work trying to upheave Sacoridia. The creature she resurrects is far more evil and destructive than is first apparent. It’s abilities cause serious upset in the palace. I have to admit, I was not expecting the twist that came from this and found it to be a great read. We also got to see King Zachary taken out of his element, pushed to new limits and be tested in ways he has never been before.
Speaking of Zachary, there was the continued romantic tension between Zachary and Karigan, you could feel his heart ache for her as she was aching for the loss of Cade. One of these days, I really hope that Britain allows Karigan to finding lasting happiness with someone, because I just don’t think her heart can take more heartbreak. King Zachary is the one I felt frustrated with at times as I wished he could just stop reopening old wounds and let her move on.
While bad things happen in the book, as usual, over all I leave the book feeling positive, even if I know there is more trouble ahead for the characters (which, yes, there is more trouble coming for Book 7. We got a very interesting glimpse of it in the end), but it’s never overwhelming, and it seems like there is always enough positive achieved that it overshadows everything else. Again, I am left waiting for the next installment so I can curl up again and enjoy the ride.
Review originally posted on The Speculative Herald.