The Providence of Fire – Brian Staveley

Synopsis: War is coming, secrets multiply and betrayal waits in the wings… The Annurian Empire’s ruling family must be vigilant, as the conspiracy against them deepens. Having discovered her father’s assassin, Adare flees the Dawn Palace in search of allies. But few trust her, until she seems marked by the people’s goddess in an ordeal of flame. As Adare struggles to unite Annur, unrest breeds rival armies – then barbarian hordes threaten to invade. And unknown to Adare, her brother Valyn has fallen in with forces mustering at the empire’s borders. The terrible choices they face could make war between them inevitable. Fighting his own battles is their brother Kaden, rightful heir to the Unhewn Throne, who has infiltrated the Annurian capital with two strange companions. While imperial forces prepare to defend a far-distant front, Kaden’s actions could save the empire, or destroy it.

Holly: I will be the first to say I had reservations about The Emperor’s Blades in the beginning. If you read our review from February, I mentioned the one big issue being the treatment of the female characters in the first half of the book. It did improve towards the end & for that I am grateful. Because overall, I really REALLY liked the book! It just was in no way perfect for me.

The Providence of Fire, however? The absolute perfect fantasy novel, in my opinion! I loved it so damn much!

I have to applaud Staveley for the growth he shows within The Providence of Fire. The writing is significantly better, the world-building more engrossing & the female POV is actually the center of the entire storyline! I had absolutely no issues with the treatment of any of the female characters within this & in fact, I think they are some of the best written! Gwenna, as I had hoped, was a complete badass in this! I’m seriously wanting a book dedicated to Gwenna!

Also, we should thank Brian Staveley for reaching out to us on Twitter & letting us know that there would be more Adare in this installment! That was supremely cool that he took the time to not only read our review, but respond to my concerns.

Corey: Yeah, I’d struggle to come up with even a minor criticism of this book. It just hits the ground running early on, and never really lets up. The pacing is just right…plenty of great bits of dialogue and character moments, action sequences that don’t belabor the point. It’s just like you said, it’s kinda the perfect fantasy novel in a lot of ways.

Agreed, Gwenna is a fucking boss here!

Holly: This picks up after the events in The Emperor’s Blades. Adare has left the Dawn Palace & is in the process of gathering an army. Kaden & Valyn have been reunited & are fleeing those that tried to kill Kaden.

Valyn has easily been my favorite POV throughout the first two books. He has become hardened after what he went through in Emperor’s Blades & Staveley continues to throw everything his way, breaking him down. Valyn is focused on retribution. On war. He is Kettral, after all! With Valyn’s leadership, his Wing set out on the ground within a new area in the North (after getting separated from Kaden) & this was where I really noticed the improvement with world-building. I absolutely loved these scenes. It was refreshing to get out into different surroundings.

Corey: Absolutely. Everything is bigger in this novel. The mythology & history of this world are greatly expanded upon, and we meet some new incredible characters. I felt like the writing was almost more relaxed in a way, like Staveley was getting to know the characters better and better. It really allowed for more humor to shine through, particularly with Laith, Nira, and Pyrre. There’s some really funny moments here, balanced nicely with the overall gravity of the story.
Holly: LAITH!!!
The development in this sequel is incredible. Staveley went from just brushing the surface in Emperor’s Blades to fleshing these characters out in such an organic way. He does so well with making sure that each one of these POV’s has a unique voice.
Corey: Not only that, it’s really cool to see some of the minor characters from the first book shift into the forefront of this.

Holly: Yes! Like the interesting unravelling of Triste’s story! She is so much more than what is at first perceived – she really came into her own during this.

Corey: I think it’s safe to say at this point, if I had to pick any group of people in fantasy to have my back in a fight, I’m going with Valyn’s Wing. Possibly the baddest group of badasses ever! You got Gwenna blowing shit up, Annick and her rapid-fire can’t-miss arrows…Pyrre is just a savage & relentless fighter. Only don’t call her part of Valyn’s Wing.

Holly: Valyn’s Wing is full of badassery, no doubt! To me, they were the best part of this amazing book. The interactions were just so fun to read! Not to mention all the fuck shit up action scenes involving the group. Seriously. Chapter 44. So damn good! The fact Staveley was able to pack so much intensity within so few pages is a testament to what a fantastic writer he is!
Corey: I’m looking through my notes from this book and the phrase “fucking brutal” was written down more than a few times. There are definitely some real gut-punch moments throughout this book. The further we go on this journey with these characters, the higher the stakes.

Holly: For sure! The Providence of Fire was fucking brilliant! It was bigger & better than it’s predecessor in every way. There was no sophomore slump here AT ALL. Everything had a place within this novel. Each storyline, with each additional character. Nothing felt like a throwaway.

This truly had it all – political intrigue, magic, immersive world-building, page turning action sequences, a diverse group of characters. The pieces of the story are starting to come together in this incredibly impressive way. I am beyond caught up in the frisson of excitement, waiting to see how this all unfolds!

I think it is safe to say this is a new favorite series for The Grimdragons!

The Grimdragons Rating: 5 ‘Kent-kissing stars!
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