Firelight 'em up! (A Book Review)
A dirty dive into the land of Lumenoria
A tale as old as time: boy plays angry punk music, dude mellows out with his acoustic guitar, and finally, man powers up his laptop and begins crafting a fantasy trilogy. If you’ve seen this once, you’ve seen it a million times. Oh wait? You’re saying this is not common at all and I’m on glue? Very well, then! Welcome to a new and exciting turn of events! Of course, I am referring to Firelight - the first of 3 tales set in and around a fictional land known as Lumenoria.
Jesse LeBourdais is a seasoned veteran of the BC music scene. As I mentioned earlier, he began his musical career in a political punk band called Cambridge and soon found himself turning down the distortion and beginning a solo project. A combination of the global pandemic and an overall love of the genre was all he needed to put his music career on the backburner and kickstart his latest endeavour. Writing a book is no small feat and throwing a plague on top of it has made distribution nothing short of a nightmare. But pandemic or no pandemic, you will struggle to get your book out there if it sucks. So the question is, does this book suck??? No. No it does not. While I am far from a connoisseur of the genre (I mean, I’ve seen Game of Thrones and played a lot of Final Fantasy as a kid), I felt like it was a familiar world with fresh enough ideas that I was continually entertained.
The first installment of his proposed trilogy follows a handful of main characters: Sh’rae Breton (the valiant heroine), Chaster Forley (the cocky douche-monkey), and Captain Halte (the solemn and mysterious leader) as they escort a large caravan of refugees out of the city of Lumenor. The story is told in an omniscient point of view… kind of. The narrator gives you insight into the minds of all the characters, both main and supporting, however, they don’t mind leaving you in the dark about some things. LeBourdais enjoys using the character of Sh’rae to reveal important information. In other words, the reader learns certain things at the exact same time as her. (Hear LeBourdais talk more about this on the BIRD DROP podcast below!)
Of course, like most Fantasy novels, there are far more than 3 characters involved. And arguably, the characters of Dunkan and Tagen Wossp are the most intriguing of all. Without hammering you with spoilers, if either of those characters are on the page, you can expect some action! The synopsis on the back of the book mentions an ancient power and these characters are definitely a link to this old magic. Now I’ve got your attention, don’t I??
LeBourdais exercises some classic Fantasy tropes such as including elves, goblins, and trolls; however, he puts his own spin on the titles. Lumenoria is home to goblans, trulls, and my personal favourite - the hulking Bonewulves. Instead of going the George R.R. Martin route of spending 7 pages describing the underbite of a character, he opted to trim the fat and be as direct as possible with his descriptions. In fact, he doesn’t even offer any clues on the appearances of his characters - other than their genders and necessary plot points. Chaster Forley, for example, has an obnoxious plume on his helmet that successfully conveys the idea that he is a pompous dickhole. Other than stuff like that, it’s up to you, the good looking reader, to fill in the blanks.
Not only were his descriptions succinct, he also tells the entire story quickly. Just a Bonewulf hair over 250 pages, even the most novice of readers will find this a refreshing and simple read. Of course, you would be best served not to forget it’s merely the first chapter of a trilogy, as the story ends rather abruptly. While not exactly a cliffhanger, LeBourdais successfully leaves the reader wanting more and luckily for us, he is already well into the process of creating part deux. I haven’t heard a title yet but I think Bad to the Bonewulf is a great option.
To conclude, this book is a great read and you don’t have to be a massive fan of the genre to enjoy it. Does it hold up against the big boys in the fantasy scene? I am not qualified to answer that as I am admittedly ignorant to a large chunk of it. I can only speak for myself and I was thoroughly entertained throughout it all. Now hurry up and finish that 2nd book, would you??