CSFF Blog Tour: Martyr’s Fire

When a lord’s city is filled with secrets he can sense but not see; when the enemies he once beat seem determined to win again, and when they are strangely adept at disappearing, and strangely adept at reappearing; when frauds come with lying blessings and lying relics, and win the hearts of a lord’s subjects – when all this happens, what is a lord to do?

Flee, I guess.

Martyr’s Fire is the third book in the Merlin’s Immortals series. Written by Sigmund Brouwer, Merlin’s Immortals takes readers back to the fourteenth century, and to things even older yet – the Druids, and Merlin.

In Martyr’s Fire, Brouwer maintains the historical mien of the earlier books, along with the carefully woven web of hidden truths, conspiracies, and mistrust. Certain things are different in this outing. In some ways the scope of the novel is wider here – Brouwer took his readers to a more diverse array of settings, and made greater use of England’s legends.

In other ways, though, the scope of the book is more limited. Few new characters were introduced, and none of them became principal characters. While the plots of the earlier books revolved around taking a city and going to war, Martyr’s Fire has more the air of a personal quest, a few people on an adventure.

And I enjoyed it. Of all three books in the series, I like this third one most; to be honest, I liked it more than I expected to based on the first books. Not that The Orphan King and Fortress of Mist were bad, but somehow I reached a new level of enjoyment with Martyr’s Fire. I even enjoyed the writing style more.

Two other things I appreciated about this book: I appreciated the heroine, full of intelligence and spark, and every inch the hero’s equal; and I appreciated that though Brouwer portrays the darkness that existed in the Catholic Church, he does provide glimmers of the light.

As a whole, this series has a low level of violence, for which I salute the author. Too many writers fall prey to the idea that nothing is exciting until somebody dies.

Martyr’s Fire is an interesting novel, with a wealth of intriguing historical details and a clever fusing of mythic elements into the actual world. The cast of characters is also interesting, and occasionally fun. Recommended – Martyr’s Fire, and Merlin’s Immortals.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

CSFF Blog Tour: Fantasizing History

One would naturally assume that a series called Merlin’s Immortals would be a straight-up, magic-and-swords fantasy series. But one would naturally be wrong.

In Merlin’s Immortals, Sigmund Brouwer slowly lifts the veil on two secret circles, long at war with each other – the Druids, and Merlin’s Immortals. You would think that Druids – those terrible pagan priests, with their terrible pagan rites – would show the darkest kind of magic. They were usually – in that period between the rise of Christianity in the west and its decline – portrayed as sorcerers.

But in this series, their tricks are simply science acutely applied, though confessedly with devilish purposes. I can’t remember any instance of magic in any of the three books I read. The story is also firmly rooted in our own world and even our own history; the precise year is given. The medieval setting – so cherished in fantasy – is a thoroughly historical setting here.

Still, there are two distinct ways in which Merlin’s Immortals lays claim to the title speculative fiction. In the first, it plays at the fringes of Arthurian legends; second, in putting forth the continuing existence of the Druids and their secret war well into the fourteenth century, Brouwer writes an alternative history of England.

Perhaps the use of the Arthurian legends merits the fantasy label. But whatever else these books are, they are probably not the fantasy novels you were expecting.

To see Martyr’s Fire (Book 3 of Merlin’s Immortals) on Amazon, go here; to see Sigmund Brouwer’s website, go here.

To see reviews and commentary on Martyr’s Fire, visit the CSFF blog tour:

Red Bissell
Beckie Burnham

Theresa Dunlap
Emma or Audrey Engel
April Erwin
Victor Gentile
Nikole Hahn
Becky Jesse
Jason Joyner
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Rebekah Loper
Jennette Mbewe
Amber McCallister
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Writer Rani
Nathan Reimer
Jojo Sutis
Steve Trower
Phyllis Wheeler
Deborah Wilson
Rachel Wyant