Review: The Memory of Fire by Callie Bates

The Memory of Fire
Callie Bates
Del Rey Books
Published on June 5, 2018

Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  Goodreads

About The Memory of Fire
Magic. Romance. Revolution. The sequel to the bold and gorgeous The Waking Land.

Jahan Korakides is the hero who saved the life of the crown prince in battle, helped win the revolution in Eren and earned the heart of Elanna, the legendary Wildegarde reborn.

But Jahan Korakides is also broken; haunted by memories of the woman who experimented on him and his brothers as children. So when the empire threatens war in retribution for Elanna’s illegal sorcery, Jahan leaves Eren to negotiate with the emperor on Queen Sophy’s behalf. But the world he left has changed – riots rock the city of Ida, his brother is missing and the crown prince refuses to speak to him.

Jahan’s only hope of success seems to lie with the rebels in Ida. Yet, if he joins them, he will merely spur on the war he’s desperate to avoid, and risk revealing himself as a sorcerer.

And then the witch hunters arrive at court, bringing Elanna in chains.

My Review
After loving The Waking Land, the first book in this series, I knew I had to read The Memory of Fire. It was awesome to get to see what happened after the first story concluded. Elanna remains my favorite character even though Jahan narrates this book. I like Jahan, but I felt more connected to Elanna.

I thought it was interesting that the author touched on opiate addiction, especially considering the fact that it’s such a big issue right now in our country. Jahan remembers being addicted and some of the physical agony of withdrawal (which he experiences at different points in the story) but also the shame of having been an addict. It’s a minor point—this isn’t a tale about addiction or recovery. I just thought it was interesting that it plays a role in the book.

I also found it cool that even though this story is told from the perspective of a young man, it contains a LOT of strong women. Obviously there’s Elanna, the Caveadear who uses powerful magic connected to her land. But there’s also Jahan’s aunt, who sheltered him as a child and never shies away from protecting him, even if it might cost her life. The empress, who seeks to use her position to turn the political tide toward accepting sorcery. Queen Sophy who works tirelessly to unite her people and fend off enemies.

I’m pretty sure I noted this in my review of The Waking Land, but I think this is really more adult fantasy than young adult fantasy. Jahan deals with political issues in his role as ambassador, and while he spends some time sorting out trauma from his childhood, ultimately, the story focuses on him finding his place as an adult in a changing kingdom. I guess you could argue that he revises his childhood relationships (with his aunt, with a childhood friend, etc.) into adult ones, which falls under the YA umbrella. Fantasy seems to be the most flexible in terms of where YA crosses into adult fiction.

At any rate, The Memory of Fire struck me with its strong story world and interesting political dynamics. Fans of Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope or The Great Library series by Rachel Caine should add this one to their reading lists.

Memory of Fire on AmazonRecommended for Ages 18 up.

Cultural Elements
One minor character is gay.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Infrequent use of mild profanity.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between a man and woman. References to them sleeping together and some scenes that give slight descriptions of sex. (More like we know they’re doing it, but the act itself isn’t much described.) The gay character discusses his desire for a real future with his lover, which seems impossible due to some political circumstances.

Spiritual Content
The story world is polytheistic. Some characters have magic. Others consider this blasphemy and seek to kill magic bearers.

Violent Content
Jahan’s power comes from living things. He takes power from them and they die. He tries to restrict this to only killing plants. A brief battle between soldiers and sorcerers. References to torture, some brief descriptions of torture. A prison collapses, killing those inside it. One sorcerer learns to kill by taking life energy from other humans, and kills them without remorse. Jahan remembers some violent situations from his childhood. In one instance, a woman stabs him and his brother.

Drug Content
References to drinking wine (as a cultural thing). Jahan remembers an abusive situation from his childhood which involved him being given an opiate.

Memory of Fire on GoodreadsNote: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

 

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About Kasey Giard

Kasey is a mother, reader and aspiring author. When she's not reading or writing, you might find her out on the water fly fishing, pretending she can keep houseplants alive, or talking with the family rescue cat.

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