Friday, December 11, 2020

Amanda Bouchet - Breath of Fire

Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat's tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what's a woman to do when she knows it's her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.
Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world-for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin must embrace their fate together. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom . . . or not at all.

Comment:This is the second installment in the Kingmaker Chronicles trilogy by author Amanda Bouchet. The first book of this trilogy was quite well liked by many readers, had quite a publicity but, of course, the following books weren't as read or as reviewed. Nevertheless, I really liked the first book and I was quite curious to see how things would progress.

In this second installment, Cat and her new boyfriend, as well as their team, are bound to search for help to protect their territory which will allow them to go on a mission to conquer another territory. This will make it possible for them to get enough power to hopefully defeat Cat's mother, the terrible queen of Fisa. By doing so, they will be able to bring peace to the realm but, of course, nothing is gained without effort and odds of not being successful. Will Cat be able to control her powers and her natural need to help those she cares about in order to make everyone survive another trial before the big conflict?

I think this is yet another example of a "middle book". It's filled with situations which could be easily put aside, summarized in a chapter or interwoven into a bigger book focusing on the big event, which is to defeat Cat's mother. Obviously that will be the big plot of the last book. This means that there are many scenes in this 2nd story which don't advance things that much and could even been seen as simply "fillers". I suppose this could bore people and in some moments it does - especially after such a vibrant first book - but personally, I could hold on to the positives and still see this book as a good enough one.

I also couldn't help but think of another (completely different) series while reading this book. You see, the whole games competition Cat and her crew get on so they can reach a goal brought to mind another series with the exact same thing. I bet it might not be fully intentional, who knows, but I just couldn't help but compare it. I'd say this was the element I liked the less, I think the author could have thought of another tactic for the team to reach their goal. Another less appreciated element by me was how the book starts, with a fight between Cat and Griffin. So easily solved, I just think it was also easily avoidable.

What is still as addictive to read about is all the magical content the author included, as well as the Greek myths and the adaptation she made of them to this story. Some things seem a bit too convenient yes, but for the most part I had a great time looking through clues and seeing how some details were chosen and played a part in the plot. This might not be the best thing about the books for some readers, but I like how rich the story seems to feel with these things in it.

Cat continues to be this energetic character, always something to do, something to react to, something hidden to be discovered... although any reader pretty much knew all secrets from the start. It's one of things where the secret isn't that amazing, but the path leading to how she deals with it can certainly be so. Her interactions with the secondary characters keeps intriguing and we do find out some interesting things about her family because of that. I didn't have the impression this book as as captivating as the first in this regard, most relationships are already established (if not cemented/settled) so this element wasn't as elaborated as before.

The romance didn't change much from what was expected. Apart from a pointless first chapter, the rest of the book maintains the (happy) relationship they have and how much they care for one another. There's quite a surprise for them but nothing truly spectacular or innovative. I'm just curious to see how they will be when everything is solved, finished. Will they be a mushy, act-like-married-for-long or will they continue this trend of demonstrations of love and setting the example for any other couples who want to be together despite the pairing not being traditional? Something to think about.

All in all, this was still a good story, entertaining to read. I think some mild changes could have made it better but I'm confident the last book will tide things neatly.

Grade: 7/10

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