Coming Soon...
Jaws (Pan 70th Anniversary)
Jaws (Pan 70th Anniversary)
The Twittersphere

Raising Fire by James Bennett

Please note Raising Fire is a direct sequel to Chasing Embers and it is entirely possible the following review will contain some minor spoilers if you have not read the first book in the series. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Ben Garston has broken the Lore. Now it’s time to face the music. Life isn’t treating Red Ben well. He’s lost everything he held dear, including the love of his life. Still, at least he escaped the clutches of a malevolent spirit bent on total destruction. So there is that.

Now Ben just wants to drink, and forget, and drink some more. But he can’t. Not yet.

Because someone is stirring up trouble. Someone who wants to unleash a powerful ancient magic that could bring the realm of mythology crashing into the modern world.

If Ben fails to stop them, the world will burn — and that’s the last thing he needs on his conscience.

In 2016 I really enjoyed James Bennett’s first novel, Chasing Embers. So much so, I voted it my debut novel of the year. Nearly twelve months have passed and the sequel, Raising Fire, has now been released.

Red Ben Garston is one of the few Remnants still left in the world. In times past, a pact was agreed between humanity and all the magical entities in the world. The agreement was simple – one of each type of non-human could continue to live while the rest of their kin were placed in a supernatural sleep. The beings left awake would be left in peace as long as the pact held. Everything has ticked along quite nicely for centuries until now. Something, or someone, wants a return to the old ways and Ben is the only person standing in the way.

You’ve got to feel sorry for Ben. Being a long-lived dragon trying to get by in the twenty first century isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Surrounded on all sides by enemies he just wants to be left alone to wallow in self-pity. As long as he has a bottle of Jack Daniels and a comfortable place to lay his head, preferably a huge pile of gold coins, he is happy. Life never seems to work out that way though. All credit to the author, Ben’s pained existence feels very real. There is a haunted quality to our hero. All the mistakes he has ever made, and he has made many, have ground him down and left their mark. As much as Ben tries to escape his past it just refuses to let him go.

Blaise Von Hart returns (Yay!) and we’re treated to a nice big slice of his back story. As suspected, there is far more going on with this character than was immediately obvious in book one. Lest we forget, Von Hart is the last of the Fay, the envoy extraordinary. He has big plans and Ben in going to be involved with them whether he like it or not. One of the things I like most about Raising Fires is the scenes that feature these two characters together. Even though they have known one another for years, the relationship between Ben and Von Hart continues to grow and evolve. You might have thought knowing a person for hundreds of years would have meant there were no more secrets. You would be wrong. Bennett does a grand job of keeping you guessing about the Fay’s intentions. Is he a force of good or bad? Can he be trusted or not? I have to admit, the eventual outcome is not what I was expecting. It can’t ever be a bad thing when a writer defies your expectations and throws you an unexpected curveball in a plot.

As with its predecessor there is an international flavour to the narrative. The story moves from London, across Europe and Asia to China and beyond. I like little details like this. It makes perfect sense to me that a dragon would be able to travel long distances easily. Ben often leads a nomadic existence because he can. Some of the other Remnants are trapped in a single location but Ben has a certain amount of freedom to go wherever he wants.

There is plenty of action in the plot. My personal highlight is a protracted battle between Ben and an opponent who I am not going to name for fear of spoiling the fun. Suffice to say, the level of carnage that is left in their wake is colossal. In his dragon form Ben lives up to the description of “beast”. Pitting him against another Remnant of a similar size lends itself to all kinds of wanton destruction. We’re talking the unstoppable force meeting the immoveable object. This is a full-on clash of the Titans, folks.

Raising Fire is exciting, entertaining and more than a little thought provoking. The book ends in a suitably revelatory fashion and I cannot wait to see where it goes next. This series is swiftly becoming a personal favourite.

Using the techno-marvel that is Twitter, I asked James Bennett (@Benjurigan), if he could provide some details of the music he took inspiration from while writing Rising Fire. His reply…

Who am I to argue with Ben Garston’s creator? Read Rising Fire whilst listening to all these fine artists and their work and become wise. That sounds like a winning combination to me. James also very kindly pointed me in the direction of a Spotify playlist he used when writing Chasing Embers. Roe6W

If you are planning on reading the entire series, it might be worthwhile giving this collection of music a go as well. I can assure you it perfectly captures the tone of the author’s work.

Raising Fire is published by Orbit and is available now. Book three, Burning Ashes, is set to follow in the future.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *