Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Amanda Bouchet - A Promise of Fire

Catalia "Cat" Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods-and her homicidal mother-have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.
Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm-until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin's fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone.

Comment: As usual, I'm late to the "party" and only now did I manage to read this book, which was so well received and well liked by many readers when it was published in 2016. On the other hand of not being in the middle of the hype, is the fact I can now enjoy all the books without having to wait for them to be published.

In this fantasy story we meet Cat, an apparent inconsequential soothsayer who travels with a circus in disguise. One day, things change because a man seems to be following all her movements during the circus' performances but Cat can't escape and the man, Griffin, and his four friends catch her and force her to do a divination for them in which she discovers one of the men is actually an enemy of the others. Since Cat proves her worth, the leader decides she is someone he needs to help with his family new power status and he sort of kidnaps her. As they travel to his hometown, many obstacles come their way but a bond between Cat and the guys becomes stronger, especially with Griffin, whom she can't see to ignore. Will there be something more for Cat at the end of the journey except duty?

I was really surprised by how much I liked this story. It was a very enjoyable adventure, filled with fantasy and magic and a main couple I had fun seeing falling in love. The story is not just about the suitability of a couple, though, and I had a great time understanding the world the author created and keeping up with rules and the little things that made it so captivating.

The story is quite simple, if one has read other fantasy books before. The heroine is running from her family and her past, where she was ill treated and tortured for who she is and her powers. She is hiding among the members of a circus where some of her abilities aren't that special and she can go undetected. She is the narrator of this story and usually first person is not the best choice in my opinion, but here is wasn't too bad because the focus is on the plot and Cat is an intriguing character, we get a lot not just by what she says but mostly because of her actions and her personality. It's very different when the narrator is someone whose voice is appealing!

The hero was fascinating too. Of course we don't know his thoughts but his behavior and his actions speak for themselves. We realize very early on that he is a man of honor as are his fellow companions. All characters are interesting on their on, even those that aren't as developed. As a reminder, this is the first of a trilogy so although we do get more on the main characters, I bet the secondary characters will play a continuous role throughout the three books which will give them more development.

The romance is sweet and funny and not too quick. In a word: perfect. Both Cat and Griffin hide secrets, she more than he, but although we see by their actions they like one another and feel attracted, this is only depicted as escalating, meaning they slowly get to spend more time together and their increasing intimacy is as slow as the progress of the plot. Besides, it's just so much fun to see their interactions... although their relationship starts because Cat is kidnapped, in reality things aren't as heavy toned as that and the journey has hilarious situations, as well as dangerous ones. It was greet to see them all bond and become friends and care for one another.

The plot isn't too hard to grasp but we aren't told absolutely everything, so the information given is well paced (to me it is). Cat's family will prove to be the biggest hurdle for the plans the main characters want to happen. With this I mean the success of Griffin's role as a ruler along with his sister and his family and the peace between regions.. although there are hints the trilogy will be about more than just this. 

I'm very eager to know what happens next and I hope the author keeps up with this trend and tone.

Grade: 8/10

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