For centuries, the kingdom of Alexandria has protected Northern Shala from the monstrous creatures lurking in the Wastelands. Now, a dark force threatens that fragile peace. Far from home, Alexandria's princess is abducted. When a young villager named Hellsfire stumbles upon her and her captors, he rushes in to rescue her, alone and unarmed. His fear and fury unleash an uncontrollable magical force that grants him the power to save the princess - and change the world. Hellsfire has never craved nor dreamed of power. But such magic as he now possesses has not been seen in Northern Shala for a thousand years, since the devastation of the War of the Wizards and the creation of the Wastelands. Now Hellsfire must leave all he's ever known and make a dangerous journey to learn to master this wild, ferocious power - power he knows he is not ready to wield. More difficult still, he needs to master his emotions. If he can't, the power will consume him, Alexandria will fall, and darkness will eclipse the land, destroying everyone he loves. In the dead of cold, the spark shall burn....
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This was an above-average magical fantasy story with just about everything... Magic, dragons, elves, dwarves, wizards, romance, adventure, and action. I'm looking forward to another book by this author.
The book is told from the point of view of the main character, Hellsfire. Hellsfire is a young man living in a relatively remote village. His father died years ago and he lives alone in a small home with his mother. One day as Hellsfire is wandering in the forest, he comes across a young woman running for her life from kidnappers. He quickly realizes that the young woman is, in fact, the princess. Unable to escape the kidnappers, Hellsfire releases an ability he didn't know he had... The ability to control fire. After freeing the princess and seeing her off, his mother tells him that she knew that he would one day show a sign and that he must leave to go in search of someone that can teach him to use his abilities.
After traveling for many days, he finally locates the wizard that will become his master, hidden in a cave at the top of a mountain with his dragon companion. Hellsfire spends the next few years learning the skills he needs to become a wizard. However, circumstances cause him to leave before his training is complete.
After joining a group of elves on a quest to the capital of Alexandria, they discover that the capital is in poor condition. Hellsfire is reunited with the princess, but soon learns that dark forces are influencing the king and the kingdom. It is up to Hellsfire to fight this evil in any way he can or the entire kingdom may fall. But can he complete the task when he never finished mastering his wizard skills?
The narrator was only average in my opinion. He wasn't bad, I just wasn't particularly fond of him. He really didn't do any voices, and his inflections were a bit off sometimes. He was still good enough for 4 stars though, mostly because the rest of the book was so good.
I received a free copy of this audiobook from the author, publisher, or narrator in exchange for an unbiased review. I was NOT required to write a positive review and this reflects my honest opinion of the work.
Northern Shala is kept save from the monsters of the Wastelands by the Kingdom of Alexandria. But that kingdom may be in trouble. Hellsfire, a young lad in a small village, rescues Crystal, the princess of Alexandria, and earns a reward. However, he also gained the knowledge that he must now leave his sleepy little village and find a way to master his wild magic.
Hellsfire is the chosen one, but the details are all fuzzy to start with. Years ago, a mysterious man arrived in a winter storm just as Hellsfire’s mother was giving birth to him. This mysterious man is responsible for Hellsfire’s unusual name. Part of me likes the name but part of me wonders why his mom didn’t give him a nickname or even a common middle name that he could choose to go by. He’s teased and bullied constantly in the village and his odd name is just one more thing to draw unwanted attention to him.
One day, Hellsfire sees a young woman (which turns out to be Crystal) being chased by 3 armed men in the woods and he interferes. Fire launches from Hellsfire and takes out the men, which surprises everyone, especially Hellsfire. Crystal rewards him with a bag of coin. He tells his mom who takes it as a sign that he is ready to head out to the mountain where it is always winter. So, Hellsfire goes, facing down the lead bully one last time on the road out of town (hooray!). Eventually, he has to eat his horse, it’s so cold (so sad).
He finds a cave near the top of the mountain where there’s a dragon who takes great glee in chasing him about. Eventually Hellsfire runs into Stratis (an aged wizard), who is friends with the dragon. Stratis sees the potential in the lad and offers to train him. Of course, those with knowledge have to be all mystical and mysterious about it all, never telling Hellsfire why he shouldn’t do this or that and that leads to dangerous situations. Not my favorite plot device at all. On the other hand, this is where we start to get the scope of the land. Stratis gives Hellsfire a well-rounded education – potions, fire magic, hunt and seek with the dragon, book learning, languages, physical training, herbology, etc. While the info dump on how magic works is a bit tedious (Hellsfire is not a swift learner), we also get some history (which I quite enjoyed). There was a big epic wizard war perhaps a thousand years ago which did quite a bit of damage and that is why there are few wizards now and also why many people and cultures look on wizardry with suspicion.
After a significant amount of time has passed, Hellsfire must leave and he feels he must assist the Alexandrian princess. Elves and Dwarves get pulled into play, along with another wizard and at least 1 ogre. There’s some political maneuvering, daring rescues, and a worthy battle at the end.
There are few female characters until the last quarter of the book where the Dwarves come into play. Apparently the Dwarves are a bit ahead of the times and have female leaders and women guards and such. Hooray! Crystal is OK as the main female character/love interest. She does get to show off her sword skills a little in the final big battle, but she also gets knocked unconscious more than once and has to be rescued. Still, it’s mostly a boy’s tale about a boy saving the kingdom.
For a standard fantasy tale, it was still pretty entertaining. I enjoyed Hellsfire and all his anger management issues. He’s a good lad at heart and that wins over the audience no matter how many mistakes he makes. This story leaves the door open for a sequel and I expect the next book will up the epic level.
I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the author in exchange for an honest review (thanks!).
Narration: Bryan Zee was only OK. He didn’t have many distinct character voices; at first you can tell he’s trying but by the middle, it just all sounds like the same voice. Plus he has this nasal quality to several words in his native accent that bleeds through into every character voice. Towards the end, there were some mouth noises as well (not many) where there weren’t any for the majority of the book. Zee did do a great job of getting the character’s emotions across to the listener.