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Friday, September 28, 2007

Review: Survive My Fire

Survive My Fire
by Joely Sue Burkhart

Trapped as a dragon for centuries by a curse impossible to break, Chanda is consumed by rage. Her heart broken, her life ruined, her entire tribe dead by her own actions, she never expects the warrior outside her lair to know the secret of her curse. Let alone that she will fall in love with him.

Jalan survives the White Dragon's teeth and claws. He survives her fire. He even survives her love. But he doesn't come to break her curse or win her heart. Not exactly. His dark god will spare Jalan's tribe--if the White Dragon is sacrificed.

While Jalan must choose between the love of his heart and the safety of his tribe, Chanda realizes she may at last break her curse forever.

If she's willing to make the greatest sacrifice of all.

The dragon isn’t a new motif in fantasy fiction. Neither is the theme of a leader making hard personal choices to save his people. But Joley Sue Burkhart uses both to good effect in the novella Survive My Fire.

Jalan and Chanda belong to different tribes of a desert-dwelling race for whom the dragon part of them lurks just under the skin, all the time. Surrendering to the dragon induces a physical shift and the results are so violent that they try to avoid it. This novella is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. Ms. Burkhart’s vision of dragon shifters is gritty and realistic. The characters are not human and the way they conduct their lives reflects that. The conflicts are violent, as is the lovemaking between Jalan and Chanda.

That said, Survive My Fire is extremely well written. The world building is meticulous and the details are spread throughout with little to no infodumps to break up the action. Ms. Burkhart uses all her senses – especially smell – to create a distinct sense of the world her characters live in. She brings forth the realities of living in a desert climate with few resources and a waning supply of water, and the desperation of the clans very well without bogging down the romantic interactions between Jalan and Chanda. And even though their interactions are violent, there is tenderness there as well as they bond themselves to each other to save Jalan’s tribe.

Ms. Burkhart does a lot in a short amount of space, making each interaction between characters do multiple things. There are no unnecessary or gratuitous scenes or wasted words, and that economy and quick pace makes the pages fly by.

Survive My Fire will appeal to romantica readers and fans of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series.

Review by Daisy