Edge of The Flame by James Aichinger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Edge of the Flame is a scifi re-telling of the "chosen one" sort of story. Aichinger has a good writing method and an imaginitive worldbuilding, spanning three worlds. The characters have complex backstories and stand out well from one another. The main villain is fairly unique with a power that is awe-striking and seemingly un-defeatable, and you find yourself wondering how they can manage to overcome him.
A young man who lacks memory of his childhood, Adanis, realizes his home town is in flames and all are destroyed, the result of an attack by powerful creatures (ironically) called "angels" at the behest of a villain named Arek, but he is quickly rescued by two brothers and arms experts, a techie named Rascelot and his powerful "malachi" brother Raphael. A malachi is like a mutant with superpowers. Adanis learns he isn't just a malachi, but a "valkiran" who is the fated chosen one to destroy Arek. But Adanis is naive and must quickly learn all he needs from the brothers in order to fulfill his role. What follows is a chase between worlds as they run from Arek and his minions to Earth, then try to be recognized as the valkiran in the coming battle for Earth. But all is not what it seems, and who can Adanis trust?
Personally, I'm not a fan of "chosen one" stories, and this story follows the (tired) traditional "Hero with a thousand faces" story progression... *but* there is a significant twist at the very end of the book, which has to do with his lack of memory and identity crisis. Unfortunately you have to read nearly all of the 160K words to get to it. Part of the reason for the length is that there are no less than 20 major characters, most of whom have point-of-view sections and side plots of their own, not all of which really seemed to be necessary for the main storyline, such as diplomats and their personal relationships to other diplomats, or an arms dealer and his shady history. I found the story got bogged down in these side plots by around 2/3 the way through the book. Also, despite the length of the book, the ending wraps up very quickly and I found myself a bit confused by the convenient manner in which it ended. Plus, some of those many side plots were not wrapped up at all. But it's not all bad. The side plots ARE interesting on their own, even if they don't lend much to the central storyline.
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Cheers and happy reading!
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