Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5 (rounded up to 4):
The Oracle has looked into the future and sees nothing but devastation and ruin after the King of Altnoia, along with his Queen and Heir are killed, assassinated by his cousin who then assumes the throne. Missing from the carnage is the rightful’s King’s young son, Prince Edan. Missing or dead? Only the Oracle knows the truth. If the Kingdom and all who live there are to survive and thrive, then Prince Edan must be found and restored to the throne.
Dragon, the newly minted Dragon of Fire, has been chosen for the job. He must find Prince Edan and then keep him alive, a desperate mission when the forces of the Usurper are scouring the Kingdom looking for the Prince as well. But it’s Prince Edan’s secret location that upsets Dragon most of all. Edan is hiding out on a pirate’s ship and the last place a fire loving dragon wants to be is on the high seas and seasick.
Not only seasick and sick of the water, no one will tell Dragon which pirate is the prince. And not even the Oracle could have prepared Dragon for a pair of sexy twin pirates and the feelings they engender inside a lonely dragon.
New author, new series. Both things make this reviewer extremely happy. Add a dragon or two and things get just that much better. The Oracle’s Flame, the first in The Oracle series, sets the foundation for this universe and the stories to come. The story begins in the Monastery, built into and under the Sacred Mountain. In this ancient building, more city than single structure, the Oracle and the Four Castes live and carry out the Oracle’s plans.
Mell Eight has created a wonderful, fascinating universe for this series. The Oracle herself is thousands of years old, exchanging human bodies as is necessary but retaining the knowledge and feelings of all the Oracles inside. At the moment, the Oracle is a young girl, the previous body/person having recently perished. Into her personal chambers she calls for her new Dragon of Fire. As Dragon proceeds down the hallways of the Monastery, he recalls the chain of events that made him the Dragon of Fire only three days prior. Inside the Oracle’s chambers lie the testing room into which all the young are called to be tested. When they leave it will be as a member of one of the Four Castes, Air, Water, Earth, and of course, Fire. Each young person leaves changed in appearance and with a tattoo marking their new position and Caste on their backs.
For Dragon, his hair has turned cherry red, the color of flames. And his eyes are the bluest of blues that you find in the hottest center of a candle’s fire. All members of the Fire caste have red hair and blue eyes after testing. But only one has the red dragon tattoo on his back, signaling his high position. And only the Elder Flame is higher in the cast then the Dragon of Fire. So many rich details….and the author continues to add continuously to the atmosphere and minutiae of the Monastery and the world created within to the reader’s delight.
But Mell Eight has the dragon leaving this mesmerizing location for a mission he must succeed at otherwise the Kingdom of Altnoia will be lost. From deeply serious to highly humorous and back again, the narrative swings merrily as Dragon boards the pirate vessel in a most unusual manner, assuming a lower caste position to hide his true nature and lowly name to go along with it. Quite naturally, a fire dragon will not be pleased to be surrounded by water, rained upon and or tossed about by waves. And at all times, it is easy to remember that Dragon is also quite new as a Dragon of Fire and out on his own for the first time in his life. It’s an all around precarious position for Dragon and the author makes the most of it here to our delight and sometimes consternation.
There are many other characters involved in this story, including a pair of brother pirates, twins Shev and Shov. Physically identical, they couldn’t be less alike in personality. But both brothers are attracted to Dragon who is confused by his attraction to them both and unsure of what it all means. There is a charming naivete and innocence to Dragon, one recognized by the brothers and other pirates aboard. I enjoyed the fact that aspect of Dragon’s character was valued rather than exploited by those around him. And that aura of innocence that surrounds Dragon makes the relationship that finally evolves between the three of them not only something the reader will be able to relate to but all aspects of their unusual relationship as well. That The Oracle’s Flame involves a m/m/m relationship as well as one that includes twincest feels as though it was meant to be instead of something kinky or misplaced. It does occur towards the end of the story for those readers who find these elements not ones they normally read but the events that lead up to it feels natural and not strained by circumstances.
What will everyone find marvelous? Oh, the wonder when an angry dragon takes flight! Mell Eight makes us feel the fury and the beating wings, the fire as it explodes upon contact and the happiness of a dragon when a tiny flames dance in his hands. During those moments, Dragon is so alive, so unbelievably real and magnificent that you wish dragons were as real as Dragon feels on the pages before you. Of course, he felt that way too as he moaned with seasickness and shivered under the onslaught of a torrential rain, pitiful and endearing always.
Ultimately, it’s the characters that make a story or series. In The Oracle’s Flame Mell Eight has provided us with many to love and wonder about. I only wish that I had seen more of the fight to win the throne. How satisfying that would have been. But I was happy with this tale of love and adventure and thrilled with Dragon and his twins. I think you will be too.
Cover art by London Burdon. Minimal but it works for the story and as series branding.
The Oracle series includes:
The Oracle’s Flame, #1
The Oracle’s Hatchling, #2
Publisher’s Warning: Contains twincest and a threesome relationship
ebook, 18,700 words
The Oracle’s Flame at LT3 Press