This edition of "Fantasy Review" looks at Greg van Eekhout's Pacific Fire, the second in the Daneil Blackland trilogy. You can find a review of the first in the series here.
By Greg van Eekhout
Ten years have passed since Daniel defeated the Heirarch and liberated the Heirarch's golem—who now goes by the name Sam Blackland. But, the powers in Los Angeles have a plan to cause more chaos, reviving an ancient Pacific firedrake, and Daniel and his osteomantic abilities are needed to destroy it. When an attack leaves him weak and on the verge of death, Sam decides it's up to him to step in and save the day.
This is another tale full of action, adventure, danger, and compelling characters. From start to finish, this book never let up. Though Sam takes center stage as—arguably—the main character, Daniel is still relevant and important to the plot. After his near-death experience, he sets off for Los Angeles to save Sam, and calls on his old friend, Moth, for help. There's also some significant secrets about Daniel's past that come to light, mainly, what happened to his mother in the Northern California Kingdom.
Daniel's character is such a badass. He's ten years older than in the previous book, and that mean ten years more experienced, and ten years more jaded. He's hard and tough, but at the same time has a soft spot for the child he raised, feeling a paternal connection to Sam. These two sides of him—a rage against the world and a deep love for Sam—give him strong motivation in this book. But at the same time, he's still as snarky and arrogant as he was when he was younger. He's an amazing character.
Sam is equally as interesting. His life with Daniel is unfulfilling—never staying in any place longer than a few days, learning osteomancy as well as self-defense, not able to from relationships with anyone—yet he is alive. But when Daniel is attacked with a rare poison, he needs the help of the Emmas. There, he teams up with one Emma—called Em—and she agrees to help him take on Daniel's mission. For once in his life, Sam gets to be the hero, not relying on Daniel's protection, and of course, everything goes wrong.
Getting to see Sam return to Los Angeles, his birthright, and finally get to use his osteomancy, really grew his character. Living under Daniel's influence did cause Sam to be jaded as well, but he's still young enough to have a sense of wonder at the world around him.
There were so many scenes within this book that were so touching. These characters worm their way into your heart, and their pains and struggles and hopes and dreams are so tangible to the reader.
A few elements of the story relied too much on coincidence and chance meetings. Sam and Em crash a plane, but are still able to get to Los Angeles within the scheduled timeframe. They don't have a way to get to Catalina Island, but a passing celebrity happens to invite them to an illegal party on a ship where there's a submarine they can steal.
Coincidences occur in fiction, but it did feel like it happened a few too many times to be believable.
This book was incredible, just as intriguing as the first in the series. It was teemed with emotion and adrenaline, sure to keep the reader's attention. The relationships between the characters are what make this story worth reading. Both Daniel and Sam are sympathetic, relatable protagonists. And despite both of their tragic beginnings, they still fight to make the world a better place.
5 out of 5
This book can be purchased in the Dragonmount eBook store, here. And the first book in the series, California Bones, is also available. The third and final story, Dragon Coast, comes out on September 15th, and can be preordered here.