Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fire Bringer, by David Clement-Davies

Fire Bringer is one of those titles that sticks with you, one of the ones you heard all about at one time or another; it was the book that all the cool kids had read and that everyone knew about. For me, this was a middle school sentiment. It was with those memories in mind when I took it down off my shelf, where it has waited patiently for years.

It's also worth mentioning that I had read The Sight, also by Clement-Davies, when I still was in middle school. About the only things I can recall about it are that all of the characters who mattered were wolves, there was a prophecy and a chosen one, en epic adventure, and I loved the heck out of it.

Fire Bringer is exactly the same book, except with deer and minus the dazzlement.

To be fair, I've come a long way since then. I read things differently now, and to give credit where it is justly due, The Sight is almost certainly better crafted than Fire Bringer simply because it was not Clement-Davies' first book. This didn't necessarily make Fire Bringer any less painful of a read in terms of the prose. My biggest complaint was that the action in the novel was sorely lacking; there were many times where something was told where it should have been shown - left to summary when a scene would have been much more effective.

Despite this, I read all four hundred and ninety eight pages of it. Even though the presentation made me cringe and the story's conventions are (in essentials) exactly identical to The Sight, somewhere in there I found myself invested. If I figure out why I'll let you know. In the end I suppose it comes down to a good story. The prophecy convention is about as nuanced as a parlor trick, but like a parlor trick, it still, against all odds and my best intentions, works. Rannoch's quest, his denial of his role as the chosen one, his desire to learn who he is are all questions basic enough and yet resonant enough to carry the story on its circuitous journey around the high- and lowlands north of Hadrian's wall.

There is also one more point on which I ought to give credit: Clement-Davies is brutal with his characters. There are members of the cast I expected to have main character privileges who were brutally and abruptly murdered throughout the course of the novel. There was a cold sort of reality to his treatment of death (which was one of the themes anyway and probably the point of the whole book) that was due in large part to this abruptness. There are definitely kudos to be had there, because I didn't see most of these deaths coming, and that is definitely something to write home about.

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