This Golden Flame
Published February 2, 2021
About This Golden Flame
Orphaned and forced to serve her country’s ruling group of scribes, Karis wants nothing more than to find her brother, long ago shipped away. But family bonds don’t matter to the Scriptorium, whose sole focus is unlocking the magic of an ancient automaton army.
In her search for her brother, Karis does the seemingly impossible—she awakens a hidden automaton. Intelligent, with a conscience of his own, Alix has no idea why he was made. Or why his father—their nation’s greatest traitor—once tried to destroy the automatons.
Suddenly, the Scriptorium isn’t just trying to control Karis; it’s hunting her. Together with Alix, Karis must find her brother…and the secret that’s held her country in its power for centuries.
I think this book was pretty good. I struggled with a few things, but it’s hard to tell if they’re personal issues or problems with the story. I’ll explain, but I want to talk about the good stuff first.
So first, I enjoyed the setting. Something about it felt vaguely Roman (oops– it’s based on Ancient Greece, so not Roman!) to me. I loved the pirate crew and especially Zara, with her no-nonsense, never-give-up sensibilities. I liked the friendship between Karis and Alix, and the way she identified with him and his past as well as her love for her brother.
All that said, I struggled a bit with Alix’s character. In the story, there are giant machines called automatons that have been lying dormant for a long time, and the people holding Karis captive have been studying them, trying to figure out how to get them working again. In general, it seems like they have kind of an interactive book that can be used to control them. Write a command, and the automaton will execute that command. So they’re kind of like robots operated with magic??
Except then, enter Alix, who is similar to an automaton, but not?? Because he has a personality and LOTS of emotions and the ability to think for himself and choose his own actions. He still has a book that can be used to control him, though.
I guess, I felt like I didn’t really get what he was supposed to be. I kept expecting him to be more like a high level android, with internal calculations and limits and maybe emotions layered on top of that? But it seemed like, no, he was really supposed to be exactly like a person, but also an automaton.
It felt confusing to me. I don’t know if my expectations got in the way of the story or if more explanation would have been helpful? I’m not really sure. But it definitely became an obstacle to me enjoying the story.
Other than that, I enjoyed the story, though, and I thought it was great to see a book focus on a friendship relationship rather than a romance and to center an aromantic asexual character. I thought that was very nicely done.
Recommended for Ages 12 up.
The main character identifies as aromantic asexual. One minor character is nonbinary. Another is gay. Other minor characters represent different races and cultures.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Brief kissing between boy and girl. One boy identifies another boy as his lover.
Some characters have the ability to read or write magic runes that have an effect on objects and automatons around them.
Some reference to human slavery. A couple brief battle scenes.
The captain purchases a round of drinks for the crew at a tavern. (What they drink isn’t specified.)
Note: I received a free copy of THIS GOLDEN FLAME in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support running this blog.