Review: Knight of Fire (Terra #2) by S.J. Frost

Standard

Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Once in the kingdom of Ocassus, humans and dragons shared the lands as allies. That time has passed into legend. But

there’s one who wants to see it return.

Knight of Fire coverHumans have forgotten the fact that it was dragons that agreed to share their lands with humans and not the other way around.  Over  the centuries, mankind has lost their knowledge and respect of the dragons that used to be their allies.  Now in a kingdom where dragons are feared and Dragon slayers are welcome, only a few humans remain that have the ability to talk to dragons, every type of dragon.  One such man is Torran.  Torran is a Dragon Speaker,  gifted with the rare ability to understand dragons.   He has made it his life’s work to rescue and keep safe every dragon that needs him.  And in all that time, he has never met another like him.

Sir Karrick Brenton is a Knight of the Crown, On a mission to unseat a cruel Duke, Sir Karrick met the motley crew of Forest’s End, already at the duchy in the middle of a battle.  Once the evil duke and dark mage are slain, Sir Karrick remains behind with Torran, Garrett Evergard, Bryson Summers,and the rest of the group.  Karrick has never met someone like Torran before.  Both men are instantly attracted to each other but their lives are so very different.  Karrick not only lives in the city of Dragon’s Landing but has secrets that he has been keeping as well. Torran lives in Forest’s End and is constantly traveling.

Torran is requested to come to the capital city of Dragon’s Landing when the King needs an interpreter to speak with the Ancient One, a dragon of immense power whose appearance is needed to crown the king’s successor.  Bryson too is needed when the King’s Gatekeeper goes missing. Once more the group of  friends sets forth on a mission, only this time it includes a Knight of the Crown, Karrick Brenton.  But unknown dangers await them all, and it will take all of their combined powers to defeat a common enemy and uncover the mystery of the missing Gatekeeper.

Knight of Fire picks up shortly after the events of To The Other Side and the destruction of the dark mage and corrupt duke.  The group of friends, Bryson the Gatekeeper and mage, Garrett his lover, Torran the Dragon Speaker, Lark the minstrel, Zain the assassin and the elf, Aleric, are still cleaning up after the last battle with help from the newly introduced Sir Karrick Brenton, Knight of the Crown.  After dispatching the Nightmare back to Hell (a great creation by S.J Frost), the men receive a missive from the King where he requests (demands) the presence of Torran in Dragon’s Landing, the main city of the kingdom.  Normally the group would use the gate to transport to Dragon’s Landing but unfortunately, the King’s Gatekeeper is missing and the Gate is locked.  Only another Gatekeeper can access the abandoned gate and that means that Bryson and crew are coming too.

S.J. Frost keeps a lively pace as her narrative flows from the end of the first novel to the events that spark the next adventure for this ragtag group and the Knight of the Crown send by King Orrin to investigate the corrupt Duke Bartell and the dark mage in his employ. Even from the few scenes Torran and Karrick had together in To The Other Side, it was clear they were made for each other.  Now in a traumatic opening chapter, Torran and Karrick are thrown back together when Karrick saves the Dragon Speaker’s life.  Frost’s ability to create characters that connect immediately with each other as well as the reader shines here with Torran and Karrick.  Torran is instantly lovable with his ability to speak to all sorts of dragons. Torran is subtly handsome and his small dragon companion, Rose, just adds to the picture of a man in tune with his gifts and the creatures he is meant to help.  When Frost introduces Torran to Karrick,a knight at his most heroic,  its clear that these men have much in common, not the least of which is their attraction to each other.   Even though their friendship is newly established, we believe in them and the romance that is almost guaranteed to come.

To access the other Gate, the ragtag little group must travel on the Earth side to the missing Gatekeeper’s cottage, and it is here that Frost’s story takes a humorous turn.  Modern plumbing and hot water are savored by all and the scene with Garrett and Bryson’s companion dragon Wynn in the Earth bookstore is hilarious.  I think that segments like this, where the characters return to the Earth side of a Gate , helps to reinforce the fantasy aspect and otherworldliness to be found on Terra.  One short journey later and the gang reenter’s Terra at the abandoned Gatekeeper’s cottage.  Frost returns to the darker story at hand with a poignancy that will resonate with all readers.  Cara, the missing Gatekeeper functioned almost as a mother to Karrick, and the descriptions of his emotions and memories as they survey the empty rooms are as powerful as they are intimate.

The puzzle of the missing Gatekeeper is just one of the mysteries this group must solve.  Frost introduces us to the Ancient One, a dragon of immense size and power who refuses to speak to the King.  The reasons behind that refusal and the implications for the health of the kingdom will involve all the characters in a plot as full of deceit and treachery as it is of romance and love.  For every lusty, sexy interlude there is sure to follow one full of magic and action.  Frost knows how to whip up a battle filled with fighting knights and a slew of archers, fire breathing dragons of all sizes as well.  There is a hatchling sure to capture your heart and a young scion in need of support and love.  This is a fictional cauldron full of wonderful characters, action packed scenes and couples on the path to romance and their HEA. Truly there is something here for everyone to love.

S.J. Frost continues to build her vision of Terra and its history with each new story in the series.  Knight of Fire adds new layers to its human/Dragon history and mythology as well as expanding on the characterizations of the people we have met and fallen in love with.  With a world full of unicorns, elves, brownies, mages, and more, for me, the real stars here are the dragons.  Tiny floral dragons that act like hummingbirds, white dragons that read bodice rippers, small ruby red dragons with feathers and a lady like sense of decorum, and immense dragons with the wisdom of the ages and everything in between.  They are all here and talking to us.  These dragons have the ability to fascinate even as they grab onto our sense of compassion for their plight.  Dragons and dragon lore will always be popular and here with her Terra series, S.J. Frost has added a wonderful new chapter all her own.

I love this series.  Knight of Fire is charming, fanciful, and a great romantic continuation of the story that started in To The Other Side.  I think both books should be on your TBR list.  If you are new to the series, start with To The Other Side to see where it all began.  For those of you familiar to this great group of misfits and miraculous creatures, than you will be happy to see where the next adventure takes them in Knight of Fire.  Grab them up and start your reading now!

Cover Design by Kris Jacen.   I love the knight on the horse.  What a perfect image for Karrick.

Buy Links  MLR   Amazon  ARe

Book Details:

290 pages
Published April 11th 2014 by MLR Press
original titleKnight of Fire
ISBN139781608209323
edition languageEnglish
urlhttp://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=SJFKFIRE
seriesTerra #2

Books in the Terra series to date in the order they were written and should be read are:

To The Other Side (Terra #1)
Knight of Fire (Terra #2)

Review: To The Other Side (Terra #1) by S.J. Frost

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

To the Other Side coverBiologist and environmentalist Garrett Evergard is hiking through the woods in the Pacific Northwest trying the find the means to save the woods from being clear cut by a developer.  All Garrett needs is to find one species of plant or animal rare enough that calls these woods on the edge of the Olympic National Forest home to get them  designated as a protected habitat.  Little did Garrett know that he was about to stumble into the most amazing find of his life. When Garrett spies a rare spirit or Kermode bear, a white colored black bear that resides only in a specific habitat.  Focused only on the spirit bear, a missed step finds Garrett falling into the ravine, an accident that will forever change his life.

Bryson Summers is a Native American, one of a long line of witches and Gatekeepers.  Bryson lives a life of two worlds, one on each side of a door in his cottage that straddles the border between them.  One is Earth, and on the other side, a magical place called Terra.  Here unicorns, dragons of all sizes, and magical beings like brownies and elves live with humans that live and work as they did long ago.  The spirit bear calls to Bryson when Garrett falls.  Garrett’s injuries are severe and Bryson takes him home to heal and recover.

As Garrett recuperates, the men find their mutual attraction deepens until Bryson finds himself dreading Garrett’s departure, something that Garrett is also not looking forward to.  But the forest and his job awaits.  And Bryson’s attention is needed to a growing danger from a power mad duke capable of great evil.  When Bryson disappears, Garrett will do anything he can to save him but what can a mere human do against such great magic?  Garrett is about to find out.

In this first novel in her new series Terra, S.J. Frost takes the idea of parallel worlds and makes it fresh with her own twists and ideas.  From the moment we enter the story and watch Garrett confronted with two tiny dragons zipping from flower to flower in a manner akin to hummingbirds, the reader knows they are in for a delightful time in a realm that sparkles with the strangely beautiful and abounds with fantasy creatures we will never get enough of.  The Floras or flower dragons are tiny jewels and just one of the many dragon species that spill over the pages and into our hearts.  I say one of many because  waiting for us inside Bryson’s cabin is Wynn, a small sized white dragon with an affinity for bodice ripper romances and Oreo cookies.  And more equally wondrous creations quickly follow on the heels of his appearance (although Wynnie is a heart grabber for sure).  Bryson the Gatekeeper is able to talk to them all because of his deep connection to the Earth and all its animals, no matter what side they dwell on.   Terra is constructed along the lines of Medieval times.  It lacks any form of technology and its societal structure is along those of royalty/peasant/serf strata. In fact, all those elements and species Earth lacks can now be found on the other side.  Magic, faeries, dragons, elves, brownies and more to come I expect as more stories unfold and the series expands our knowledge of Terra and its kingdoms.

In addition to the wonderful job S.J. Frost does in building her series universe, we are given an endearing and quixotical core group of characters to connect and empathize with. To The Other Side deals primarily with the meeting and romance of Garrett, the biologist and  Bryson, the Gatekeeper but Frost also introduces a host of companions whose stories are sure to follow this one.  There is Torren, a Dragon Speaker, who can talk to every type of dragons and mourns the fact that dragon slayers are allowed to prowl the kingdom killing dragons without cause or the slightest hesitation.  Zain, the Black Fox, an assassin for hire and known thief.  Zain has already found his love, Larkin, but there’s a problem there and its a deep one.   Larkin, a bard, is a small, beautiful man with a gift of conversing with the dead, a problem when the man you love is a stone cold killer.  And theirs is not the only untenable or hopeless love that Frost reveals in this first story.  Another that will appear is an elf Aleric, who sad past and quest is surely deserving of his  own story and HEA.  And Boggy the brownie who loves to clean and grump about them all.  Land’s End, Bryson’s home, serves as their informal headquarters and way house when they are all in the area.  Each character is beautifully defined, with the depth and breadth of personality needed to bring them to life and make us care for them all.

Frost has a flask full of complications for Garrett and Bryson to overcome in their own quest for love and a future.  Bryson is tied down to his Gate and is long lived due to his connection to the Gate and Earth/Terra.  He is also a powerful witch whose gifts are needed in the nearby villages.  Garrett too has an important job to finish, that of saving the forest where the Gate is located.  He needs to find a rare species to save those woods from a developer and in finding it, it may have found true love as well.  There are magical hurdles to overcome as well as realistic mundane ones and watching these two men surmount each and every one is a true joy.

S,J. Frost tells her story with a well developed sense to humor to go along with the pathos.  The pace is a little slow in the beginning as Frost is laying the foundation for the story and the series, but once in place the story takes flight. And we and the characters are in for a marvelous ride.

Next up is Torren’s story and that of Sir Karrick Brenton a Knight of the Crown who enters into the story at the very end of To The Other Side.  I can’t wait.  Already this series has grabbed my attention and my heart.  I can’t wait to see where the author takes us with this group of characters on their journeys to romance and true love.

Cover Art by Jared Rackler.  A little dark but the outline of the unicorn behind that gorgeous cover model is perfect to set the tone and intrigue the reader.

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Published May 31st 2013 by MLR Press (first published May 30th 2013)
ISBN 1608208680 (ISBN13: 9781608208685)
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=SJF_OTHR
seriesTerra #1
characters: Garrett Evergard, Bryson Summers

Books in the Terra series to date in the order they should be written and read:

To The Other Side (Terra #1)
Knight of Fire (Terra #2)