Fire of the Forebears (Heritor's Helm #1), by L.A. Buck. A review by Esmay Rosalyne
Pitted against one another, with the people and country they love in jeopardy, the daughter of a deserter and the son of the king have a chance to fulfill their forebears’ legacy—or destroy it entirely.
Twisted monsters called saja lurk in the shadows of the mountains. Rumors say the Fidelis, human wielders of an ancient elemental magic, again walk the plains. Not all in Avaron believe, and not all welcome the return of legend.
Kura’s a skeptic. But, she’ll cross and befriend centaurs, talking animals, and worse to save her family after the rebellion mistakes her for the land’s prophesied savior. And, while he’d rather negotiate with rebels than fight them, Triston can’t ignore prophecy. That was the sham his father used to steal the crown in the first place.
Over a century ago, their ancestors sailed the oceans in search of peace and died as heroes fighting for it. But heroes—and villains—aren’t always what they seem to be.
My Review (4 out of 5 )
Fire of the Forebears is a riveting tale filled to the brim with fantastical (talking) creatures, reluctant heroes, rebellion, prophecy, conspiracy, good vs. evil, family, a hint of romance, and, of course, lots of magic. In other words, this is epic fantasy in all its glory!
We follow two young main characters, Kura and Triston, who couldn’t possibly be more different from each other. Kura’s father is a deserter, which has forced her family to live in the shadows where they are desperately trying to survive as poor farmers. Triston is the privileged son of the rebel king whose contentious reign has been stirring up unrest all throughout the kingdom. Their paths cross when Triston is sent out to strike down the rebellion that Kura has found herself more involved in than she had perhaps ever wished for.
loved following these characters on opposite sides of the conflict, as it added
a lot of tension and intrigue to the story.
L.A. Buck excels at writing incredibly complex, flawed, and endearing characters, which made it so easy for me to latch onto these protagonists. Despite their clashing goals, I quickly found myself sympathizing with and rooting for both of them, making this an incredibly compelling read. Their complex dynamic ended up being one of my favourite aspects of the story and I loved the realistic, genuine and unexpected development of their relationship over the course of this book.
Another highlight of the story for me is the big focus on family. Unfortunately, it’s rare to see healthy and functional family dynamics in epic fantasy, but this book delivered on that aspect in spades! Kura is surrounded by a warm, loving family and will do anything to keep them safe, while Triston is trying his best to make his father proud. The familial relationships portrayed here are far from perfect, but that’s exactly what makes them so believable and realistic.
The world-building is also really impressive and I absolutely loved getting lost in this vast world with its rich lore, intriguing magic, and complex history. These lands are filled with all sorts of magnificent fantastical creatures, which also made for a wonderfully diverse cast of supporting characters. I particularly enjoyed how these fantastical creatures were actually well-developed and complex characters with strong personalities and a great sense of agency, instead of being just another fun magical touch to the story.
The magic system is interesting and well-developed, but it definitely leans towards the softer side and can feel a bit elusive. I personally really liked that and I think it perfectly fits this wonderful story filled with prophecy and lore.
All that said, I do have to admit that all the unfamiliar terms/names/races were a bit overwhelming and I think they could have been integrated a bit more smoothly into the narrative. I constantly found myself needing to flip to the glossary for explanations, which somewhat broke my immersion. And kind of in that same vein, I thought that there were maybe a couple of too many side characters to keep track of, which made some of them feel a bit underdeveloped and insignificant to me.
Lastly, I am happy to say that I was very pleasantly surprised by some of the unexpected twists and turns here. This story might be filled with lots of good old fantasy tropes, but that doesn’t mean that they’re overdone or that the plot is predictable. I really liked how the author played around with genre conventions and put her own spin on some of these familiar tropes. These characters’ journeys were compelling and surprising, which kept me on my toes the entire way through this chunky book.
Overall, I had a fabulous time reading this story and it reminded me of what I love about the fantasy genre. Although this series is unlikely to ever be continued (what with the tragic situation around the author), this first installment is still 100% worth your time, as it stands very well on its own and leaves you feeling fulfilled and satisfied. I think this book will be a great hit for any fantasy lover, be they veterans or newbies to the genre because it’s just such a compelling and captivating read. Highly recommend!
About the reviewer
Hi! I’m Esmay, a 20-year-old bookworm from the
Netherlands. My main hobbies are reading books, talking about books, reviewing
books and watching videos of people talking about books. Fantasy is my
favourite genre, but I will honestly read anything if the premise intrigues me.
Also, over the past year, I’ve become a huge (SFF) indie/self-pub enthusiast and
it’s been a wonderful experience to discover all the hidden gems. I’m forever
exploring stranger worlds.
A goat farmer, graduate, first-degree black
belt, and medical school student, the one thing Lauren Buck always knew she
wanted to be was an author. The first stories she ever wrote were about superheroes. But, raised on a steady diet of Lewis and Tolkien, it was only a matter
of time before she set her sights on epic fantasy.
When she was not writing, working, or studying, she enjoyed drawing, playing the
guitar, traveling, as well as outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and
Sometimes you could find her hanging out on Twitter, probably with a German shepherd or two sleeping at her side.
According to Myers-Briggs, Lauren was an INTJ, and country roads will always take her home to wild and wonderful West Virginia.
L.A. Buck passed away May 31st, 2022