Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The Ordeal of Fire is Steven Smith's second book in the "Tree of Life" trilogy. Elowen and her companions continue with a variety of quests. Elowen and Diggory had found respite with the Illuminati, and both were being taught and trained by masters. Elowen is chosen to by one of the Illuminati leaders to join with several other students for a special task: to obtain the four elements or mysteries. However the love of power causes one Illuminati leader to betray all others and puts Elowen in a tenuous situation. She realizes her mistake in being guiled by soft words too late and watches as the Illuminati are literally destroyed from within and finally by the Redeemers. 

Elowen, Diggory and Larwita are forced to flee and suffer imprisonment, beatings, and more. Elowen is branded a witch by a church leader after failing "the ordeal of fire" and is to be executed. But she escapes. She befriends many along the way, including an Orok that was with the Illuminati, Arigh Nasan. She learns more of her mother's history and ultimately realizes that she doesn't have to follow the same path. While Elowen searches for the first mystery and deals with Lord Lucien, Prince Asbjorn is dealing with his own set of trials. Black Francis and the others aboard the Husker Du have been betrayed and imprisoned by the Sea Beggars and only Prince Asbjorn and Valbrand escape. During their travels they encounter Prince Jeimuzu of the Kojin and embark on their own quest to save the lives of the Jeimuzu's sister and ultimately the lives of Black Francis and the sailors of the Husker Du.

The Ordeal of Fire is filled with intrigue, treachery, and fantasy. These elements along with the interesting characters and kingdoms make this a good read. We're introduced to a variety of different creatures and kingdoms. The kingdom of the Orok and the previous khan, Arigh Nasan's father, seems to resemble the khan's of ancient Asia. The Kojin are fierce warriors with skills similar to the samurai of ancient Japan. During all of their trials and tribulations, Elowen and Asbjorn must face their inner demons as well as their external foes. Will they succeed? Will the Illuminati in Omphalos be warned of Prester John and the Mother Church's treachery? Will Lord Lucien succeed in obtaining all four elements and be able to use these to push forward the agenda of the Mother Church? We'll have to wait for the final book in the trilogy, The Last Days, to find out. I have to say that although I would not have chosen this series to read on my own, I'm anxiously awaiting the final book to see how things end.

DISCLOSURE:  I received this book free from the author. I was not paid, required nor otherwise obligated to provide a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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