Thursday, May 17, 2012

Melissa Douthit - The Firelight of Maalda

The Firelight of Maalda
(Legend of the Raie'Chaelia, Book Two)

by Melissa Douthit

Kindle Edition Available

Product Description
The Firelight of Maalda - for readers age 13 and up.

Story Summary (from Amazon)
The Firelight of Maalda: A story that unites the real with the fantastical and turns science into magic …

Chalice and her group leave Barenthren to travel to Portalis. There she and her friends discover the beautiful city, its people, its history, and its secret that has been kept hidden for thousands of years. During their stay, they learn that Dar’Maalda has the Firestone and that he plans to use it.

What is the Firestone and what does Dar’Maalda plan to do with it? What are the Naezzi? What does the title, The Firelight of Maalda, really mean? And … what is the secret of Portalis, the secret that has been guarded so jealously for so long – so jealously, that many have given their lives to protect it?

In The Firelight of Maalda, the second novel of the trilogy, The Legend of the Raie’Chaelia, you find out. It is a tale of intrigue and wonder where two opposite worlds collide in an explosive journey that leads Chalice and her friends to the dark islands lurking just beyond the horizon of Ielieria, where the Firelight of Maalda sits … and waits.

About the Author (from Amazon book page)
Melissa Douthit grew up in North County of San Diego, California. After graduating with a Computer Science degree in Southern California, and working for a summer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in New Mexico, she moved to the Bay Area to work at NASA Ames Research Center for a year and then at Lawrence Livermore National Lab for another four years. From there, she moved to Monterey, California, to work at the Naval Postgraduate School on a government project for two years. She currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, working as a software engineer. Since high school, she has been a voracious reader of books of all genres, with an emphasis in fantasy and science fiction. Her literary work is strongly influenced by her professional experience and includes many elements of her scientific background. You can find out more about Melissa on her website:

O.Scarlett! REVIEW by Rachel

I've already reviewed the first two books, and I can honestly say, this one shows so much growth by the author.

Gone are the cliché's and the "I'm stuck, grab a book, point to something, work that into the plot" feeling. Melissa's earlier talent is really starting to shine.

I skimmed through several of the earlier reviews on Amazon, and there are some excellent ones.

It took me just over 2 days to finish the book, but I'm a very fast reader. It was a good enough read, that I found myself picking up my Kindle to read every chance that I had, and even neglecting a few responsibilities.

The basic plot

Ben makes a magic "worm hole transporter?" to take the entire city full of prisoners directly from one underground city into their city of destination - once there, anyone who can't be sealed with an oath vow is doomed to never leave the city again - which condemns almost everyone, including Chalice.

Chalice is immediately whisked away to begin her princess duties - and her family and friends are sent down into the other side of the city away from her, because they don't have magic and aren't "good enough" to associate with on a daily basis. This has been especially true since her father disappeared.

Of course this really upsets/angers Chalice. She is one of them, and has always been one of them. The ways of the palace are strange and stifling. But it isn't long before she learns to bend rules, circumvent "authority", and almost bullies her way to the top, making many angry in the process, and surely making quite a few enemies. Besides, somewhere there is a traitor. (Somebody needs to give her a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People!)

Many secrets are revealed to her (and Jeremiah), about the importance of the city and why there is such a strict separation of the two races of humans, and the history of the earth and the underground cities. Many more questions are asked and not answered.

She contacts her friends at sea to help them with their daring plan ... and then it is a guessing game, wondering whether Chalice and her people are gaining the upper hand, or whether it is all a trick by the wicked usurper King to lull them into a trap.

Only one thing is certain, they must not let the fire beasts be brought to life by the new King and his minions.

Only Chalice can free them. Only Bunjab can control them.
Most of the characters develop a great deal during this book. While I'm sure most would applaud Chalice for being a strong bull headed woman, I found this to be a quality that I did not admire. This is probably due to my age and the fact that I have a daughter this age, and wouldn't want her being a bully. Still, she is what she is, and the character is mostly consistent in her presentation - and that is what is important.

Jeremiah's maturity continues to impress me. He has also grown as a character, and balances Chalice's impulsiveness.

I would have loved to have seen a deeper relationship and trust between Chalice and Ben, and have her learn more about her father and siblings. I would also have liked to see her developing relationships with those in the palace - her cousins, some of the guard, and others. Because Chalice never really interacts with these characters, they remain little more than cardboard characters, and the palace a vacant and hollow feeling part of the book.

On the other hand, there is a great deal of the book devoted to her clandestine meetings with Jeremiah. I know that "romance" has become a big seller, but so many books and movies are "ruined" by over indulging the romance crowd. These encounters are not juicy enough to appeal to this crowd, but are frequent enough to be clutter baggage rather than developing the story. I am sure plenty would disagree with me on this point. There are many out there that feel that romance is the only reason to read a book.

Conversations are much improved. I can actually "hear" many of them. Very few felt forced or robotic, as was common in the earlier books. This made this book so much easier to fall in love with and to continue to come back to when it got to rough spots.

Possibly the most glaring rough spots were the way "flashback memories" were handled. The author would state the memory, then copy paste the memory in italics, and then explain the memory. There was only once I felt this was slightly useful, and that is when she reminds us of a short scene that took place very early in the first book, where Bunjab shows us the empty caves where his friends once lived.

All in all, it was a great book, and I look forward to seeing future books. I've chatted briefly with Melissa and she seems eager to learn and develop as an author. With her attitude, a willingness to learn, and brilliant ideas, she has most of the tools to do well. If she can gain an audience, she is sure to succeed.

It is a great joy to me to see anyone develop and stretch their wings, either as an author, or one of my students. I have enjoyed watching Melissa learning to use her wings - and hope to see her soaring soon. I am delighted that Amazon and Kindle have allowed the first time author a chance to throw their hats into the ring and become published authors, and I applaud those willing to place themselves and their work up for dissection, ridicule, and examination.

Genre/Theme: Fantasy, Post Apoctolyptical, Magic
Reading Level: Mature Teen
Profanity: Moderate
Sexuality: Obvious
OTHER: Jeremiah and Chalice have many clandestine meetings outside of the castle, while the descriptions are mild, the "sneak out after curfew" part will disturb a few readers. Once on the Lost One's boat, they are given a room to share, and they do take advantage of this repeatedly, fortunately, the readers are spared the bulk of the details. Magic becomes deeper and more of a black/white flavor. Chalice is not beyond cheating, lying, and bullying to achieve what she considers to be the "greater good" and her "birthright".

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