I received an ARC of A Chorus of Fire from the publisher (Tor books) in exchange for an honest review.
A Chorus of Fire by Brian D. Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Sorcerer’s Song (Book #2 of 3)
Published: 11th August 2020 by Tor Books
A captivating continuation, A Chorus of fire expertly sets up the series for a climactic finish.
The Bard’s Blade was the first book I read by Brian D. Anderson and I loved it. As I stated in my review for that book, there are not many fantasy stories where music plays a major role. That does not seem to have changed much since I wrote that and I was eagerly looking forward to immersing myself back in this world. When I was given the chance to read the sequel early, I had zero hesitation in saying “YES, PLEASE!” Before I carry on though, I would like to give a shout out to Felix Ortiz for the gorgeous cover art he created for this book.
“A knife in the dark. A whisper in the mist. When death is nigh, a final prayer. To send your soul to loving arms on gentle shores. Eternal paradise awaits those who welcome my kiss.”
A Chorus of Fire picks up the threads of this story shortly after the events of the first book. Both Lem and Mariyah have followed paths they never expected to travel down in their wildest dreams. Countless, exciting new possibilities have been revealed to them, but there are two sides to a coin. They have also seen the uglier side of humanity and had to do many things they are not proud of, with dark deeds weighing particularly heavy on Lem’s mind.
“For these things, it is just that you suffer. If you did not, it would make you a monster.”
Where they once had perfect lives planned out, their new reality is one in which the machinations of a powerful, malevolent force is tainting every hope and dream once held. They never give up though and keep on fighting to hold onto the good people they were; their love for one another a constant, driving compass for their thoughts and deeds. And they will need this strength. Both of them will have to embrace the opportunities given to them to learn everything they can in preparation for the coming onslaught of this ancient enemy.
“The deadliest foe is one without hope”
I praised the characterizations of the first book in my review for that one, and the author has continued the good work in this sequel. Len and Mariyah are both such well written, realistic protagonists that I never felt disappointment when the POV shifted. That said, I felt I could shake them a few times, as they had moments in this book where I thought they were being particularly rude. This stood out for me, but only because they have up to now had an easy going way and excellent manners, possibly due to their sheltered upbringing. Perhaps a bit harsh on my part as it might be ascribed to the stress of their situation… *shrugs… I don’t like rudeness. As for the other characters, I’d like to give honorable mentions to two. I have developed a fondness for Loria who has not had an easy life, but has changed her fortunes through hard work and sheer will and is doing everything she can in the fight against the evil that seeks to destroy their world. As a mentor character she is hitting all the right notes for me. The second person is Shemi, who is just a warmhearted soul. I loved seeing more of him and thought his relationship with Travil was a nice added touch.
‘…the soul is like a silver cup. Neglected, it becomes tarnished and ugly, but all it takes is love to make it shine again.’
Concerning worldbuilding, Brain D Anderson has not rested on his laurels after setting the scene in the first book. Quite a bit of history and lore is revealed through the tale, with the truth about Kylor being the most fascinating, but there were lots of little aspects that added to the overall picture. Our protagonists traveled around a bit, revealing many new locations and interesting places, such as a…drumroll… Bard’s College! So Anderson mixed my love for music with my love for a fantasy school setting and I could not have been more pleased. Unfortunately, the whole school part lasted only a chapter or two (WOE IS ME) where I wouldn’t have minded spending the rest of the book with Lem training at the college. As I said, music in fantasy is quite a rarity and something I wish there was more of, even in this very book. Mariyah had a similar short spell at a school of magic (again, I’m also a sucker for fantasy schools) and I would have loved more of that too. I understand though that this is a trilogy and there was no time for these things, but damn, I savoured every minute of it and wanted another helping.
I think it’s easy to see the reasons I enjoy this so much, but I can add one more. Anderson writes in a way that makes reading feel effortless easy and has the pages flying by in flurries. While some people see lucid, accessible writing as a negative thing, I am not one of them. I love a Malazan style book as much as the next fantasy fan, but there is just as much to enjoy in clear, uncomplicated storytelling. It always reminds me of a quote by a beloved children’s author: Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
A Chorus of Fire is a delightful sequel that delivers on the promise of its predecessor. It’s a classical, feel good fantasy that is perfect for those both new and old to the genre looking for something quick and easy to read, and an easy recommendation. I can’t wait to see where the finale takes us.
“…the world is limitless—a land of infinite hidden wonders begging to be discovered. Our body may have limits. But the boundaries of life are of our own creation, nothing more.
The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.