Phoenix Rising is the latest novel from Ryk E Spoor, a fantasy adventure which packs a punch. The main story follows the quests of two young fighters; Kiri Vantage, who sets out on a dangerous quest to find the identities of the murderers who killed her parents and bring them to justice, and Tobimar Silverun, son of a displaced Lord, who has journeyed forth to seek his people’s ancient homeland.
As far as sword and sorcery fantasy novels go, this one does most things right. The characters of Kiri and Tobimar are sympathetic, if not particularly memorable, and Spoor imbues them with enough skill and daring to take on the hoardes of nasties he throws at them. Although this novel gives plenty of nods to its D&D heritage, it is no slave to it. There are plenty of blow-by-blow action sequences, but there is also lots of mystery and humour interspersed throughout. Spoor adds just enough political intrigue and divine power play to enhance the novel without overwhelming it.
Whilst this is ultimately a quest novel, Spoor also adds plenty of originality to his story to freshen up well-worn tropes. My favourite character I must say is the plucky Poplock. He is an absolute original, both clever and meddlesome in turns. The chapter where he is introduced is absolutely delightful, and caught me off guard. I shan’t spoil it for you here.
The biggest plus for me when reading this novel was the world-building. Zarathan feels BIG; not just in terms of size and geography, but in the diverse cultures and the rich history which is often touched upon, but ultimately left to unfold in the background, giving the reader a definite sense of place. This is a world richly imagined and painstakingly created, a world which brims with unusual races, terrifying monsters and warring gods. As a reader you can feel the cogs of bigger events spinning beneath the main plot. This is a world of high magic (sometimes I little too high for me – crystals that record sound and pictures start to make me think sci-fi instead of fantasy), a world where anything is possible.
Phoenix Rising begs a sequel, as Spoor’s omniscient writing approach means that there are plenty of loose ends left to be tied up by the conclusion of the book, yet the ending is very satisfactory on its own. An enjoyable, light-hearted fantasy action adventure which will make you grab for the next one.
If this sounds like your type of book, stay tuned, I will hopefully be interviewing Ryk very soon!
I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the publisher