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Reviews of 'The Fire Rose'

The Fire Rose

by Richard A. Knaak
Ogre Titans, Volume 2


Reviews of 'The Fire Rose'

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Reviewer: BeezerMN

Rating: Stars

The Fire Rose by Richard Knaak is the second book in the Ogre Titans trilogy. The first book; The Black Talon was released in 2007. The third novel; The Gargoyle King is scheduled to be released in October, 2009. This trilogy is the second that Mr. Knaak has written in the DragonLance Universe. The first being the Minotaur Wars; Night of Blood, Tides of Blood, and Empire of Blood. Both of these trilogies feature non-traditional main characters, Minotaurs in the first trilogy and Ogres in this new trilogy. It is a nice change of pace from the traditional humans, elves, dwarfs that seem to permeate the fantasy genre. Here are my thoughts on the latest novel.

The plot of this book picks up after the first book with about a year or two gap between books. There are a couple main plotline, both of which most likely could have been full novels on their own. The first plotline focus on the recovery of the Fire Rose. In the first novel of this trilogy, readers were shown what a small piece of the Fire rose could do. There are a couple different groups seeking the Fire Rose and just what it would mean to each group is somewhat up in the air. However, for the titans it means the difference between life and death. The second main plotline focuses on political/military subterfuge. In the first novel, Golgren became the leader of the ogre nation. However, there are several factions that are seeking to remove Golgren from that position. One of the things I particularly liked about the first novel was the amount, and depth, of sub plots. What I found odd is that aside from the titans sub plot, there are very few sub plots at all. Additionally, in the first novel the book literally flew by. Nonstop action and a breakneck pace. This novel however was nothing like that. There were large portions of the novel that, for me anyway, seemed to take entirely too long to develop to the point I almost started skimming pages. Then, there were other parts of the novel that were similar to the first book and were fantastic to read. It had a very uneven flow to it making it difficult to get into a rhythm. It was almost as though I was reading two separate books at the same time. The plot does further the story, there is no doubt about it,, but this did not seem like the usual book from Mr. Knaak.

The characters in this book are, for the most part, the characters from the first book. Returning characters such as Golgren, Safrag, Idaria, Tyranos, and Stefan to name a few. Again, as with the plot this seemed to be a tale of two books. There is really very little substantial character development, which is a shame considering how extensive the character development was in the first novel. Some aspects of character development that I had fully expected to see were nowhere to be found. In the previous book the characters felt as though they were creating the story. However, in this book it almost felt as though the characters were being dragged through the story to a predetermined conclusion. The majority of the characters simply did not hold my interest for very long. Certainly nowhere near how they held my interest in the first book. The dialogue was good and I felt as though each character spoke with their own voice and had their own motivations and flaws. When all is said and done, the characters in this novel seemed like mere shells of what they were in the first book.

A couple criticisms about this novel:

1 – The unevenness in the writing. It was, for me, literally two extremes. Some sow plodding sections followed by fast paced very interesting passages. It was hard to get a feel for what was going on because, at times, I had to force myself to keep going.

2 – The lack of any substantial character development. Don't get me wrong, I was not expecting every character to develop in a life changing way. But, I was expecting some development for some characters. For the most part the characters are the same at the end of the book from when the book started.

3 – There were some instances where I felt a little more description was needed. Descriptions have usually been one of Mr. Knaak's strong suits in my opinion so I was a little baffled by this. Maybe it is something as simple as being left on the cutting room floor. I don't really know.

Some things I liked about this novel:

1 – I have always appreciated Mr. Knaak's willingness to write about non-traditional characters. In this case ogres. It seems a rare occurrence when novels do not feature the traditional human, elf, dwarf type characters. It's refreshing to see the difference once and awhile.

2 – I like the ease at which Mr. Knaak writes about military type storylines. When some authors write about military/ politics it comes across as forced, yet when Mr. Knaak does it – it comes across as realistic and natural.

3 – Mr. Knaak's willingness to write dark, gritty stories. Some authors tip-toe around dark events, Mr. Knaak barrels right through them and leaves many in his wake. Reading events like these in a Dragonlance book brings a smile to may face, because of my love for the world and characters. Everything is not always best viewed under rose colored glasses.

For those who have read a lot of my reviews, or even just read my review of Black Talon, you know I loved that book. In fact, I listed it as one of my Top 10 Reads of 2008. However, to me, this novel fell well short of the first book. It never developed a good flow, and the characters didn't seem to be the same as they were in the first book. Maybe, subconsciously I had too high of expectations for this book. While I enjoyed some parts of the book, there were other parts that I had to force myself to get through. Fans of the Dragonlance universe should no doubt pick this one up, because of the changes I think are taking place – that will come to fruition in the last book (hopefully). Fans new to the genre, or to the Dragonlance realm, may be better served picking up a different series before embarking on this journey. While I don't think this is Mr. Knaak's best work, I would still rate this book as average compared to other fantasy novels I have read.


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