As I mentioned previously, I picked up the first 2 books of Prophecy of the Flame by Lynn Hardy. When I was ready to read them, I decided to buy the kindle versions instead, because well, I like my kindle and prefer reading that way. Unfortunately, that meant that I missed out on the illustrations (which the author had talked up when I met her), so I eventually went back and took a look at those.
There will be some mild spoilers in this review.
Book 1 opens with the protagonist (Rebecca) and her husband at a LARP hotel. Since she enjoys video games, he decided that for their anniversary, he would take her to the hotel where she can try some live gaming. He, not being a gamer, is sticking to the hotel’s other amenities, such as the free food.
Shortly after roll call, the announcer explains that no magic is allowed, which immediately causes a facepalm, as she had rolled up a wizard, naming herself Archmage Reba. Her group (the rest of which is, not unexpectedly, male) then strikes out on their first quest: fighting some goblins, which involves running up and down the stairs and chasing/fighting the creatures. As you might expect, they are tired and panting afterward (stereotypically, gamers are not the most athletic folks). As they are catching their collective breathes, Reba sees her husband and waves to him, when all of a sudden *flash*.
She and her companions are suddenly transported to another land, Cuthburan, having been summoned by Merithin (a sorcerer of the realm). They soon find out that the kingdom is under siege from demons and that the crown prince has been wounded in a recent battle and lays at death’s door. They ascertain that the only kind of magic the kingdom utilizes is “corporeal” (non-healing) magic, so the healer offers to take a look at the Crown Prince, Alex. After a dramatic healing, more details about the land are provided to our characters:
- Archmage Reba — Mistress of Magic; Mastered the staff, dagger, and martial arts; Maxed her Intuition skill and has a bit of Empathic abilities
- Allinon the Druid Elf — Master Archer and Swordsman; Specializes in herbal magic
- Jamison the Healer — Specializes in Healing Magic; Master Swordsman and Martial Artist
- Charles the Paladin — Prince Charming; Lacks any spell casting abilities, due to his lack of “piousness”; Master at Arms, proficient with all known weapons
- Jerik the Dwarf Master Smith — Master Axeman; Can work some magic in the forge; Slight telepathic skill (only works with other telepaths, like Reba)
A tour ensues and Reba (utilizing her “magesight”) realizes that a number of people have the ability to work healing magic, such as Jamison can, including the Princess, Szeanne Rose (the glossary explains that “Names beginning with Sz denote the European J, sounding like a cross between ‘ssh’ and ‘j'”). She casts a spell that unlocks this ability in them and Jamison helps teach all the healers this new kind of healing. Reba, with the help of Prince Szames, is able to erect a magical barrier around the city in order to provide the city with some respite from the attacks of the demons for a few days.
Without giving anything further away, the bulk of the book deals with the lead up to “the Great Battle” and finishes with it actually taking place.
Book 2 starts immediately afterward and involves the survivors looking for the source of the demons. This book deals mostly with the finding of said source which involves a lot of campaigning, as the army is constantly on the move.
As is mentioned in the first book, some of the characters want to go home, while some of them wish to stay. Their reasons are myriad (though family/lack thereof is popular), but some stay while others (including some native Cuthburans) go.
The book ends shortly after the portal has been found and the epilogue hints at what the later books (when speaking with the author while at SNAFU Con, she said she planned 5 books) might involve. Immediately following the epilogue are the 6 Laws of Sorcery that govern Cuthburan (things that Archmage Reba finds out throughout the course of the novels), then the actual Prophecy of the Flame, 2 glossaries, and finally: a preview of Book 3, due Summer 2011.
As I mentioned above, the electronic versions did not include the illustrations, to view them I turned to my dead tree copies… and there weren’t really many to speak of. Each chapter had a small picture involving a horse that didn’t really have anything to do with… anything. There were a couple of semi-full page illustrations and those were indeed relevant. It would have been nice to see them in the Kindle version.
All in all, I enjoyed both books. If you are someone who enjoys RPGs and have imagined what it might be like if you were suddenly in the game (as your character), these novels should appeal to you.