“Suprise! You woke up a god.”
In or out of context, that’s always going to be a funny line. It’s also nowhere near the end of the book, and The Phoenix Transformed is the longest of the Enduring Flame trilogy. It’s the exciting conclusion to the trilogy and to the world Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory created, though I think that may be a better payoff once the Dragon Prophecy trilogy (the prequel trilogy) is complete. Rumor has it book two is out sometime this year, so we’ll see how it holds up to the first, but that’s a different blog post entirely.
I mentioned that I consider the Obsidian Trilogy to be superior to Enduring Flame and there is little that will change my mind. Oh sure, there’s some interesting ideas and events going on. But nothing can change the fact that The Phoenix Transformed basically involves a large group of people moving back and forth between the same few locations for the entirety of the book. The locations aren’t near to each other, and because it’s a desert, it is no easy matter to go from one to another even once.
Obviously a lot of stuff happens as they’re moving, and Harrier and Tiercel are doing everything they can to keep everyone together and alive, but it ends up being kind of like Lord of the Rings; an entire book about walking. Well, a book of riding shotors, which is the in-world term for camels. It really is the most frustrating thing though, that they go from Abi’Abadshar to Telinchechitl to Sapthiruk Oasis to Abi’Abadshar to Telinchechitl and that’s the whole book. For the record, Abi’Abadshar is the ancient Elven city built during the first war with the Endarkened that was later turned over to the Firesprites. Telinchechitl is the area containing the Lake of Fire where Bisochim built his fortress. And Sapthiruk Oasis is probably the largest oasis in the Isvai, where the annual Gathering of Tribes is held.
So in terms of Tolkien, it would be as if the hobbits went from the Shire to Bree to Rivendell to Mordor, then back to Bree, then Rivendell, then Mordor. Huh, and there’s a volcano in both Mordor and Telinchechitl. Wonder how purposeful that parallel is? Not that it really matters. The point is that when you try to describe the bulk of the book, it ends up very boring. There are good moments, some amusing one liners, but it’s really the last chapter or two that are worthwhile. Those, plus the continual amusement of how amazingly distorted the events of the last war have become, are the only saving graces for the trilogy. I do enjoy reading these books (I wouldn’t subject myself to them otherwise) but since they were written after Obsidian, they will always come off looking worse in a comparison. It’s not nearly as bad as comparing the original Star Wars movies to the prequels, but there are some strong similarities.
I think I should definitely pull something off of the Pile next, since it’s gotten up to fifteen books while I’ve been distracted by rereads. I want something shorter than a pair of trilogies, but I’m not ready for another anthology so soon. I’m really trying to cut down on them, but the world keeps throwing them into used bookstores and how can I resist? Anyway, I’m going to pull a standalone from the pile, and not one of the heavier reads either. I really don’t know what to expect from an author I’ve never read before, but we’ll see how it goes. My Book of the Month count thus far has come out even on like vs. dislike, so I guess it’s time to break the tie.