Love & Fantasy: A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

  • Posted by Nova on Feb 15 2017
by Pam J.


Every now and then, we get to take a mini-vacay from Nova’s incessant fiction addiction, and read outside the Voyager pantheon. (gasp!)  So this starts one of a few new readings series on the blog, with bookish musings, pulled from our own personal bookshelves. Because reading = escapism = important!

Long before binge watching was a thing (thanks, Netflix), I’ve been a serial binge-reader.  Series at a time, over and over.  More often than not, I’ll return to fantasy with romantic elements (the “Kate Daniels” and “Mercy Thompson” series are chronic re-reads; Sarah J. Maas’ novels are newer, but no less tattered for multiple re-readings at this point); strong female protagonists are a must.

My latest indulgence is Amanda Bouchet’s “The Kingmaker Chronicles” (a Rothfussian reference?).  I loved the first book, A Promise of Fire, so much, that I ran into an editor’s office and basically forced her to buy a copy, just so I’d have someone to gush with.  Then came the second book, Breath of Fire, and I had…issues…so I immediately re-read the first, and maybe we’ll just start there.

What’s not to love about A Promise of Fire? It incorporates (albeit loosely) elements of Greek mythology.  There’s a fantastic cirque.  Our heroine has a dark, tortured past.  And a wicked sense of humor.  (Which comes out more frequently when she’s not jammed into a pair of ill-fitting leather pants. C’mon. Haven’t we all been there?)  Hero is a warlord, with, er, barbarian tendencies.  Yassssssss.  Big, burly, gruff.  Oddly into personal hygiene and has a thing for the heroine’s citrus soap, which is decidedly un-barbaric.  But…he can be a bit of a Neanderthal.  Like abduct woman first, ask questions later, Neanderthal.  I definitely have some issues with consent, and the extent of his alpha male-ness; he’s intent upon binding Cat to him, in varied fashions, but Cat seems to have him well in-hand.


Now, we spoke about Cat’s dark and mysterious past, briefly. She is actually Catalia Fisa, second in line for the Fisan throne.  Her mother, a.k.a. Alpha Fisa, is “mommy dearest” in the scariest sense of the reference.  This queen is bloodhungry as hell, and so determined to keep her throne that she continually throws her eight children at each other in battles-to-the-death.  (About half of them remain, at least midway through A Promise of Fire.)  Cat got the heck out of Fisa, travelled across the kingdom of Tarva, to finally find sanctuary and anonymity in a circus in Sinta, the southernmost country on this continent plagued by power-hungry magical despots.  Sinta is the only one of the three countries ruled by Hoi Polloi. (Look it up; it means just what you always thought it might.)

The definition. In case you were curious... (Thank you, Google.)

They won the throne by might, not magic.  So, the new ruling family are basically….Muggles in a land filled with Slytherins.  (Sorry for the cross-series lexicon pollination.  It just worked.) Presents problems….especially since Cat is a magical vacuum, who can absorb power from any “Magoi” she comes in contact with.  Our Hulky hero is her opposite: his secret is that magic bounces right off of him.

(Unofficial) Footage of the new ruling family:

Source: Giphy

Source: Giphy

Source: Giphy

Source: Giphy

So, the warlord.  He is, of course, Beta Sinta.  I love that she calls him that, instead of by his first name, Griffin (mythological beast, half lion, half eagle, totally top of the food chain), just to piss him off.  Griffin conquered the heck out of Sinta, sent the magic-users packing, and popped his lovely older sister on the throne.  He is thus free to go about his business, which one might think is plundering and pillaging, given his propensity towards kidnapping innocent circus folk.  But he’s a noble sort, and immediately bonds with Cat, who is certainly NOT going to tell him she’s just as Beta as he is.  In a totally Alpha way.  (These two are the original power couple.)

So, they adventure. There are dragons and drownings and fireworks (metaphorical) and, for the most part, it’s just amazingly romantic and wonderful and epic.  The gods make appearances.  Cerberus shows up, and is a pretty cool guard dog.

Source: Giphy

Source: Giphy

The book is definitely filled with difficult consent issues, and it’s something that numerous GoodReads users have groped with in their reviews.  He’s a soap-stealing barbarian, all tough on the outside with a melting softspot in his heart for Cat (which doesn’t excuse the “magic rope” incident).  She’s intent on saving/redeeming him, a validation of her Alpha nature.

By the final turn of the page, we are well aware that Cat is the original empowered heroine…but one who is riddled with angsty self-esteem issues.  Those issues of worth come into play in the opening salvo of Breath of Fire, but that is a story for another day…

Reading these books like Source: Giphy

Reading these books like ^^^
Source: Giphy

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Robin Hobb's Blood of Dragons now available! Tour dates and more…

  • Posted by admin on Apr 09 2013

Blood of Dragons, the final installation of the Rain Wild Chronicles, is out in the States today!

Robin Hobb will be touring to promote the book too! See if she’s coming to your town below. If not, do not fear, as she will be doing two online events as well. First, she’ll be on all day of April 11th (this Thursday!) for an Author Chat on Goodreads and will be doing a Reddit AMA chat on April 16th.

 In Person Signings/Events:

UNIVERSITY BOOKSTORE: Seattle 04/10/2013 – Bookstore Event

UNCLE HUGO’S: Minneapolis 04/13/2013 01:00 PM – Bookstore Event

MYSTERIOUS GALAXY: Los Angeles 04/19/2013 07:00 PM – Bookstore Event/

LA TIMES FESTIVAL OF BOOKS: Los Angeles 04/21/2013 11:00 AM – There Be Dragons! LATFOB Fiction Panel

BARNES AND NOBLE: Seattle 04/22/2013 07:00 PM – World Book Night

BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY: Boston 04/30/2013 06:00 PM – Bookstore Event/Signing

TUMWATER TIMBERLAND LIBRARY: Washington State 06/01/2013 Event

HYPERICON: Tennessee 06/15-17 HYPERICON: Tennessee Guest of Honor

BOOKMARKS FESTIVAL: North Carolina 09/07/2013 – Speaker for Festival

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Hobb, Kadrey at Fandom Fest in Louisville, KY – June 29th – July 1st

  • Posted by admin on Jun 28 2012

Robin Hobb and Richard Kadrey are in Louisville this weekend as Guests of Honor at Fandom Fest. Pop in and see them if you’re in the area.

Galt House Hotel

140 North 4th St

Louisville, KY 40202


Friday, June 29, 2012

7:00 PM – Panel: Exploring Genres – Fantasy

An open panel discussion looking at the Fantasy genre as a whole, past, present, and future, with an emphasis on the current writing/publishing trends in fantasy at the moment.

Location: Beckham Room

Co-panelists: Michael Williams, D.A. Adams, Laura Resnick, Jim C. Hines, and Carol Malcolm.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

11:30 AM – Panel: Exploring Genres – Epic Fantasy

This one will take a close look at Epic Fantasy, with a little more time spent on defining what Epic Fantasy is, highlighting some premium examples, and speculating on where Epic Fantasy appears to be headed.

Location: Beckham Room

Co-panelists: Carol Malcolm, H. David Blalock, Terry W. Ervin, Gail Z Martin, and Laura Resnick.


4:00 PM – Spotlight on Robin Hobb

Location: Jones Room
Moderator: Lee Martindale (writer/editor who serves on the Board of Directors at


Sunday, July 1, 2012

12:00 PM – Guest of Honor Signing

Location: Expo Area/Joseph-Beth Booth (signing)



Saturday, June 30, 2012

11:30 AM – Spotlight on Richard Kadrey

This session will focus on Richard’s writing and career, what he has done, what is going on with him now, and what lies ahead. There will be some time for fielding questions from the audience.

Location: Jones Room

Moderator: John Horner Jacobs


2:00 PM – Guest of Honor Signing

Location: Expo Area/Joseph-Beth Booth


4:30 PM Panel: Exploring Genres – Urban Fantasy

A look at Urban Fantasy, what it is, where it is right now in the publishing
world, and what lies just ahead.

Location: Beckham Room

Co-panelists: James Tuck, Kimberly Richardson, Angie Fox, Carol Malcolm, and Rachel Smith



Sunday, July 1, 2012

1:00 PMPanel: The Big 6 & Traditional Press’s Place

This panel features a number of major press authors discussing the place of traditional
publishing within the modern publishing climate, in light of all the changes that have been taking place in the industry.

Location: Beckham Room

Co-panelists: James Tuck, Shirley Damsgaard, Laura Resnick, and Michael Williams.



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War of the Words

  • Posted by admin on Mar 01 2012

We’re thrilled to kick off March with the paperback release of Spellbound, the sequel to Blake Charlton’s thrilling and original Spellwright – set in a world where words are power and literally fly off the page. Old faces from Spellwright return, and a fresh cast of intriguing characters mingle to form a compelling new story:

Francesca DeVega is a successful healer in the city of Avel, wielding magical text to close wounds and disspell curses, but her life is thrown into chaos when a dead patient suddenly sits up and tells her to run. Now Francesca is in the middle of a game she doesn’t understand, one that ties her to the notorious rogue wizard, Nicodemus Weal, and brings her face to face with demons, demigods, and a man she thought she’d never see again.

It has been ten years since Nicodemus Weal escaped the Starhaven Academy, where he was considered disabled and useless, where he battled the demon who stole his birthright and killed his friends. Unable to use the magical languages of his own people, Nico has honed his skills in the dark language of the kobolds, readying himself for his next encounter with the demon. But there are complications: his mentor suffers from an incurable curse, his half-sister’s agents are hunting him, and he’s still not sure what part Francesca DeVega will play. He certainly doesn’t know what to make of Francesca herself….

Introducing new twists to the unique magical system of Spellwright and uncovering more sinister dangers, Spellbound is sure to please Blake Charlton’s fans and earn him new ones.

If you want to know more about the man behind Spellbound, visit Blake’s blog – it’s a fun mix of his musings on Amazon and tanning salons, progress in his medical studies (a man of many talents!) and serious, considered essays – there’s a great piece up recently on Writing Strong Women.

For a sneak preview of Blake’s talent, check out his free short story Endosymbiont – a sci-fi novelette about a young woman struggling with brain cancer, whose normal hospital routine is interrupted  when she beings to suspect that she’s been put into a hospital for the dead. And if you missed out on the first title in the series, Spellwright, there’s no better time to dive into the first four chapters and get in on the action.

Fall under Blake’s spell and order Spellbound from the following online retailers – or buy it at any good bookstore from March 1st.

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Have a question for Robin Hobb? Join her Livestream event tomorrow, February 7th!

City of Dragons
  • Posted by admin on Feb 06 2012

Tomorrow, February 7th at 10pm EST, New York Times bestselling author Robin Hobb–author of the upcoming CITY OF DRAGONS—will be chatting live from University Books in Seattle! Join the event to ask Robin a question:

Join Robin Hobb’s Livestream Event

If you can’t tune in live, don’t worry—post your question below and we’ll pass it along in advance! And be sure to check out CITY OF DRAGONS, which goes on sale tomorrow (US/AUS) and April 23rd (UK).

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