Thursday, November 22, 2012

Five star review: Cleanse Fire by Anastasia V. Pergakis @avpergakis

Cleanse Fire 
By Anastasia V. Pergakis

Complete the mission, no matter what...

Captain Derac Vidor has served Kinir for nearly twenty years. It's his life, his blood. And then his Commander betrays everything Derac holds dear. Now he has to focus on his own life and his team instead of saving the citizens of Kinir.

Treason is only the beginning...

Fueled by rage, the team chases the source to their Commander's betrayal - a powerful wizard bent on revenge. The wizard seeks to destroy the Kinir Elite, in both mind and body. No place is safe, even among their allies.

The past holds the key...

Derac's tragic past may be the key to saving the team. But can he face the gruesome nightmare in time?
(Amazon description)

I have to admit, I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this book.  I don’t read a lot of high fantasy.  Not because I have any particular problem with it, I’m just not drawn to it the way some people are.  But I have been hearing a lot about this book, so I thought I’d give it a shot.  Turns out, that was a good call!

For me, a good book is one that I can connect to emotionally.  The book opens with a highly emotional scene where Derac, the Captain of an Elvin military unit called the Kinir Elite, loses his wife in a fire.  The visual of this scene was so disturbing I immediately became emotionally connected with Derac. 

The story picks up ten years later--Derac is still the successful Captain of the Elite, but he has never really been able to move on from his guilt over the loss of his wife.  When he first begins to feel attraction to Kie, an archer in his unit, he is hesitant to act on his feelings.  I found the love story that grew up around these two characters refreshing in its slowness.  There was no insta-love.  These were two adults who acted like adults.  Their mission came first at all times.  They might have wanted to rip each other’s uniforms off, but they help off, prolonging the sexual and romantic tension. 

While I am always sucked in the love story, the main plot of this novel was a military story, full of strategy, battles and intrigue.  I loved the way the author described the battle communication among the members of the group, made up of a mixture of hand signals and whistles.  Something about it felt so...elfish, maybe?  Almost like how animals might communicate when coordinating an attack.  Not that these characters are animalistic in any way, but it was a subtle reminder that they were not humans, dependent on speech and electronic devices to communicate.  Very well done.

The characterization was also great.  Each member of the Kinir Elite had a distinct personality and skill that added to the group.  Derac, as Captain, is a natural leader.  He is smart, strategic and brave.  Rakan is the experienced veteran soldier in the group, rough around the edges, but trustworthy and tough.  Tyn is Derac’s best friend.  Without him, I think Derac might have become so overcome in his grief after the loss of his wife, that it might have rendered his useless.  Tyn prevents Derac from taking himself too seriously, constantly teasing him and drawing him out.  I would love to see a future book which revolves around Tyn.  Jardel is the young soldier, full of youth and spirit.  While he is very good in a fight, he also is a bit like a naughty puppy.  Too cute to really get angry at when he is bad.  Aeli and Kie are the two women in the group and are opposite in every way.  Aeli is vain and feminine, but also smart and loyal.  She is easily under estimated.  Kie is a tom-boy with a troubled past.  I appreciated that the author did not make her too angsty or snarky.  She doesn’t have a chip on her shoulder.  Instead, she bravely faces the things that frighten her most. 

My only semi-criticism of the book is that a few times I felt like things worked out a little too easy.  For example, when Aeli’s loyalty is questioned, Derac decides to trust her right away, not really exercising the caution that I think he should have.  Of course, it turned out that she was loyal to the group, but Derac didn’t know that. 

Cleanse Fire is the first book in the Kinir Elite series.  It was very well written, and I will definitely be reading the next book when it releases. 

Overall, I give Cleanse Fire...

Plot - 4 1/2 bookmarks
Character development - 5 bookmarks
Love Story - 4 1/2  bookmarks
Dream cast (otherwise known as who I pictured while reading)  -  Henry Cavil (Derac), Keira Knightly (Kie), Sean Patrick Flanery (Tyn), Rosamund Pike (Aeli), Sean Bean (Rakan), Armie Hammer (Jardel)

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