Fire Angles
Jane Routley

This review appeared in Harbinger issue 4.

Cover 'Fire Angels' is Jane Routleyís second novel. It is fairly unique in the modern fantasy market, as it is not part of a trilogy. It is set on the same world as her first book and features many of the same characters, but it isnít essential to have read the first book in order to enjoy this one. It stands by itself, but will have familiar ties to Janeís first book, for those who have read it.

Dion Holyhands is in hiding from the events of the first book. She is working as a healer for a small forgotten community in Gallia and trying hard to be forgotten by everyone. She is reasonably content with the life she has made for herself.

When the book starts, her tranquil existence is interrupted by the arrival of her brothers from Moria. They have come to ask her to help them find their sister, who has disappeared. In order to find Tasha, Dion has to go into Moria. This is not a prospect she is looking forward to, as the Church of the Burning Light has taken to burning at the stake anyone who practices magic, except for the clergy. Dion, however, doesnít refuse as a Wanderer told her that she would go with them when they arrived. Dion has great respect for the foretelling of Wanderers.

The Wanderers are a strangely thin pale people who ramble across the countryside like vagabonds. They sleep outside and beg food off strangers. They are the shattered remnants of the Klementari, a race whose power and wisdom has almost passed into myth. The educated ruling classes of the New People donít believe many of the tales told of the Klementari and scoff at the idea the Wanderers are the mythical Klementari.

As Dion is heading to Moria, so is the Duke of Gallia. Dion is going by herself, but the Duke is taking an army. He is interested in ascending the Morian throne, and the persecution being carried out by the Burning Light is a good excuse for their liberation.

There are also rumours of necromancy coming from Moria, and all the mages are terrified of the consequences. Someone dabbling in necromancy had created the Great Waste many years ago. They had released the demon Smazor, who killed hundreds of people and ultimately destroyed the land.

The book is rife with political intrigue between the various factions who are making a grab for the crown of Moria. Dion knows she has no skill at politicking, but is thrust right into the heart of it, as she is the most powerful Mage in the land.

The story is written entirely from the first person perspective of Dion. Jane gives a detailed insight into the character and what motivates her by doing this. Unfortunately, this is also a slight drawback. In some places Dionís reactions and thoughts werenít convincing. In others Dion seemed to have thoughts that were contradictory to what she had thought in similar circumstances earlier in the story.

Something that did surprise me were the torrid love scenes. The character of Dion had a certain promiscuity from the beginning and sex had always been a feature of the book, but the intensity and passion of some scenes were unexpected. They donít detract from the story in any way, but are more ribald than the rest of the book had led me to believe in.

'Fire Angels' has a complex story and good characters. Slightly let down by the first person narrative that requires some long monologues by characters to bring the reader up to speed on certain events, but still a very enjoyable book. Having read it Iím inclined to read Janeís first book to find out how Dion got to her circumstances in 'Fire Angels'.