Series: Stand Alone
Publisher: Tor.com (September 13, 2016)
Author Information: Website
Length: 112 pages
My Rating: 3 stars
A nameless woman with no memory wakes up surrounded by a tribal chief and his people. Quickly, she discovers that she has been summoned by these strangers, bound by magic to perform a task for them. All freedom of choice taken from her as she is sent off on a ominous quest. This journey filled with numerous dangers and many obstacles, as she struggles not only to fulfill her goal but also to recall pieces of her past and uncover who and what she really is.
While I always try to read Tor.com releases, I was especially interested in Cold-Forged Flame due to Marie Brennan’s name. Marie Brennan being an author I have become familiar with by reading the rave reviews of her series, The Memoirs of Lady Trent: the autobiography of Isabella, Lady Trent, the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. And so this shorter piece of fiction seemed the perfect time to sample her writing style to see if it was for me.
Simply put, this novella is a relatively straightforward and easily digested tale of self-discovery. Told in first person by an unreliable narrator beset by amnesia, it relies on the mystery of her true nature to drive the tale forward to its conclusion. Definitely, the quest itself leads her through strange surroundings, has her become allies with unexpected persons and even deluges her with episodes of intense violence, but the main focus of this journey is an internal one, as our lead character struggles forward in a never-ending search for answers.
As for the writing style, this novella is crisp, well executed, and admirably paced. Definitely, Marie Brennan shows her master of the writing craft, subtly keeping the mystery and tension mounting throughout the short, quick tale – even as she finds time to sprinkle in a good bit of characterization.
When the final revelations do come in Cold-Forged Flame, they are perfectly timed and quite appropriate. Not always completely unlooked for, but well executed. There are still many questions left unanswered, however, which begs the question of whether more installments in the story are forthcoming.
Conclusion: I liked this novella. There were many elements I thoroughly enjoyed including Marie Brennan’s writing style and the moody, mysterious atmosphere of the narrative, but it did leave me feeling a little bit let down by the climax. Definitely, a story worth giving a try though, one I would recommend to other fantasy fans.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.