by Marie Brennan
Series: Ree Varekai #1
Published on September 13, 2016 by Tor.com
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
The sound of the horn pierces the apeiron, shattering the stillness of that realm. Its clarion call creates ripples, substance, something more. It is a summons, a command. There is will. There is need.
And so, in reply, there is a woman.
At the beginning—no—at the end—she appears, full of fury and bound by chains of prophecy.
Setting off on an unexplained quest from which she is compelled to complete, and facing unnatural challenges in a land that doesn’t seem to exist, she will discover the secrets of herself, or die trying. But along the way, the obstacles will grow to a seemingly insurmountable point, and the final choice will be the biggest sacrifice yet.
This is the story of a woman’s struggle against her very existence, an epic tale of the adventure and emotional upheaval on the way to face an ancient enigmatic foe. This could only spun from the imagination of Marie Brennan, award-winning author and beloved fantasist, beginning a new series about the consequences of war—and of fate.
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I’ve enjoyed Brennan’s Memoirs of Lady Trent series so I jumped at the chance to read Cold-Forged Flame. This one’s only a novella so it was interesting to see how the author condensed a world into such a short span as I’m used to the longer-winded stories of her other series.
It felt like the set-up for something bigger. The protagonist awakens with no memory of her identity or purpose, just a gut instinct. I liked that that’s where the focus stayed, instead of straying off into the world more, because it kept the pace quick and made it all the more intriguing. This novella is nothing like Brennan’s Lady Trent books so if you weren’t a fan of those, I think you’ll still enjoy this shorter work.
I wasn’t a huge fan of using amnesia to start the story off but I think it was done well (at least in a way that was enjoyable), and the protagonist doesn’t remain oblivious the whole time. The story itself is contained to this novella instead of feeling like you’re only getting part instead of the whole. But there’s a lot of room to grow in a sequel novella or full-length novel.
This is one of those stories where I was done reading before my brain caught up. The way it’s written makes it all too easy to fall down Brennan’s rabbit hole as you try to figure out what is going on alongside the main character. It was a fun read and I’m interested to see how the world is expanded on in the future.