Firefanged is the first fantasy fiction novel of the Demon in Exile Series written by author Rory Surtain. It is a story weaved around one protagonist with two souls; one is a demon warlord named Firefanged waiting in a sinister bar to be reborn while the other one is Ara, an 18-year old who has spent most of his life under the care of a local Church in a frontier city in the fictional, medieval Realm of Colivar. It is a land that suffers due to the demons that cross over from the Infernal Domain. Being unaware of his darker soul’s existence, Ara survives a seemingly random demon attack and is recruited to be one of the guardians of the Kingdom of Colivar. The demon and demon slayer have a mysterious connection which is revealed as the novel progresses in the midst of wars, love, friendship and deceit. Though the novel is subtitled as Demon in Exile it is not just about any one demon. The novel sets the stage for upcoming adventures and thrills of this fresh fantasy world which the reader will get to explore further.
Structure and Elements of the Novel
The novel is a core fantasy fiction with paranormal, military and dark fantasy elements which hover around the fair & foul play of prey and predator, demonic encounters, shamanic rituals, mysterious connections, vigils, clans and kingdoms. An episode in hell and a soul waiting for an eternity to meet its other half adds another dimension to this series full of clashes and battling beasts. However, the novel is not all about bloodshed and malice but has a touch of teenage romance, humorous and witty conversations, friendship and sacrifices as well.
“Our elements, or Catalysts as they are known here: war, death, pestilence, and strife, are the tools of power that shape our Infernal Domain.”
Story Development and Writing
Though his debut novel, the author is well versed in developing an interesting narrative arc throughout. The story progresses as a first-person narrative with one protagonist with two souls which may coincide somewhere near the climax. The beginning is complex and not so strong as the point of view character switches abruptly in the scenes but soon picks up the momentum in the middle with the focus being on Ara with surprising twists and turns which engrosses the reader. Scene by scene change with a recurring title for the setting of one of the protagonists will seek the reader’s attention and make it easier to follow. The characters and their storylines have been given appropriate time and space in the novel. However, I found a lot happened in Ara’s world in a short span of time which may be difficult to comprehend from a realistic point of view but maintains the reader’s interest. For those fantasy lovers who do not prefer much warfare I suggest to skip some of the many battles in the novel.
“Prey smells of fear and constant anxiety. This predator reeked of death, some scents being louder than others, and by that alone, I knew it wasn’t natural.”
The prologue is starkly different from any of the chapters written in the book later and so may confuse the reader for a while. But it is a page turner when the reader finishes the novel and comes back to the prologue once again. The author is diligent and clever in leaving clues in between the scenes to weave the stories later in the series as the reader is intrigued with questions such as who Ara really is and how he came into the possession of the dark soul?
The ingeniously written plot deserves an attentive reader to connect the dots between infernal hell and outer domain which can get complicated and confusing if not read carefully. A word of advice for the readers is not to put down the book or skip pages just by reading the complicated names, titles and houses which may sound unfamiliar as the characters and the setting is introduced. The story is far less complicated and more fascinating than the titles and names. As the novel forms the first of the demon in exile series the reader will find the climax having some threads and missing links to follow in the next novel, but the coming of age story will find a satisfying end for the first phase to this eternal continuation of exile.
Who should read this book?
All the fantasy book lovers waiting to embark on a new journey of a surreal realm of darkness, death, demons, battles, romance and humour altogether. Suitable for Adult and YA readers.
The first book in a series has the responsibility to build a premise for readers that leave them curious and waiting for the next book. Firefanged serves this purpose well and earns a well-deserved recommendation in the world of fantasy fiction. It is an untainted, fresh and pure fantasy fiction which the reader will devour with interest.
Pro Book Reviews Rating
Structure & Elements: 3.5
Story Development & Writing:3.5
Overall Rating: 4