A Promise of Fire (The Kingmaker Chronicles #1)
Published: Aug. 2, 2016 (Sourcebooks Casablanca)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review
Reviewed by: Jo
Rating (out of 5): 5 stars
Mix together all the things I love about high fantasy and paranormal romance, add in a sarcastic, reluctant heroine, a band of warriors on a mission and a half a cup of All The Feels and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a book cake I’m gonna gorge on. A Promise of Fire is that cake, and I want MOAR.
Eight years ago Cat escaped her brutal upbringing and made a life for herself as a fortune-teller with the famous traveling circus (yep, she literally ran away and joined the circus, love it). Still hunted to this day, all Cat wants is keep her head down and not let anyone too close, lest they discover just how powerful she truly is. When the most infamous warrior in the realm asks Cat to tell his fortune, her carefully isolated life begins to unravel very very quickly.
Having only recently put his non-magical family on the throne of one of the three magical kingdoms, Griffin knows there are still many battles ahead. He’s been watching Cat and thinks she may be ‘the kingmaker,’ a rare once-in-a-generation magic wielder, who can tell truth from lies, a power that could help him hold his new kingdom. Only problem: She is very much not on the same page help-wise, nor willing to get on that page anytime soon. But he hasn’t got this far by giving up easily, so he’ll just have to change her mind.
Okay, so technically he kidnaps Cat, but bear with me, cause it’s just about the only bad mark against him. The longer Cat travels with the warriors the more she begins to see just how different Griffin is to the leaders she grew up with. He holds loyalty above all other traits, he wants to protect rather than subjugate and takes the advice of those around him. She thinks what he’s trying to achieve—overthrowing the total control the northern nobility has over the kingdom just because they have magic—is doomed to failure but she starts to want to believe in the dream too.
The dynamic between these two is snarly, terse and hawt, I loved it. I also loved that it evolved and grew, cause, while I love me some unresolved sexual tension, I also want to see a connection deepen and trust come in. Growing up in a family where trust is nonexistent, where siblings literally kill each other to move up the power chain, and love is a foreign concept, I really enjoyed seeing Cat begin to open herself up. I also really liked that her relationship with Griffin isn’t they only pivotal one, as she forges new friendships and strengthens old ones.
But what’s fantasy without a world, and the one Amanda Bouchet has created here certainly didn’t disappoint. She manages to strike a balance between complexity and accessibility that made this world a joy to get lost in. It had the elements–such as the warring factions, court politics and magical battles—that are the reason I pick up fantasy novels, but there was also ancient Greek mythology mixed in that gave this a whole new spin. (Some of the references to this at the beginning were a little heavy handed but quickly leveled out.) I never felt overwhelmed and only every wanted to learn and see more.
A Promise of Fire is a superb debut novel. It was fun, it was romantic, it was dark at times and full of fantasy-packed action. Not only is the next in the Kingmaker Chronicles right up there on my most anticipated of 2017 (plus we only have to wait till January, woohoo) but Amanda Bouchet just went straight on my authors-to-watch list. I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us in the future.
Sexual content: graphic sex