A sinister foe, legendary swords, a princess, dragons, a quest for a lost sister. There is all this and more in the first book of the Zarkora series.
Brother and sister writing team Nicholas and Alison Lochel, based in Brisbane, self-published The Fyrelit Tragedy a few years ago. It’s the first book in their Zarkora series for older children, and with the first three of the series doing well, Hachette Australia has picked them up and is publishing all four over 2015-16, beginning in July.
The Fyrelit Tragedy* is about teenage brothers Neleik and Ervine Fyrelit, who set out to find their little sister who’s been kidnapped by a sinister stranger, the same stranger who killed their parents years before. On their journey they make friends, gain companions, elicit aid, learn new skills, and discover new truths. They also discover new enemies.
There are lots of fantasy tropes to satisfy the traditional taste; as well the ones already mentioned there are, giants, kings, wizards, elves, monsters, swordfighting, and tests of courage and skill. There’s a lot to enjoy, and it’s a great story. I particularly like the challenges the companions face in each mountain when seeking the Swords of Lytharin and Deragoth (it makes sense in the story, I promise).
Sadly, the writing often lets the story down, with too many words, stumbling over passages, or just awkwardness taking me out of the moment. I also found the speed with which the brothers’ first two companions joined them, and their lack of thought, didn’t make sense – particularly the girl.
The other thing is just a personal preference. I think if books in a series are going to be sold separately they should have a firm resolution at the end of each one. The overall arc for a series is important, but I think to leave the major question of a book unresolved is a bit of a cheat. The trick – obviously not an easy one for authors – is to ramp up the stakes as the series progresses, rather than having to buy all the books to get the resolution of the first book’s inciting incident. Each book in a series should have its own story which is resolved, as well as its place in the main series arc. I’m not a Wheel of Time fan.
Maybe that’s just me. I felt ripped off all those years ago when I first saw The Empire Strikes Back. When Han Solo was left encased in carbonite as the credits rolled, I wanted to stand up in the theatre and yell “Nooo!” at the screen. It was years till Return of the Jedi came out – how could Han be left in limbo like that?
I wanted to like The Fyrelit Tragedy, and I did like the story. I’ll be interested to see what the authors produce next, with this experience under their belts.
* I was provided with an e-copy of this book for review via Netgalley
Links: Zakora website