I will be honest, I picked up this eBook with a bit of trepidation. Ms Buroker is a new, fledging author and even though I loved her other book, I wondered if Flash Gold could have been a fluke. I will also admit the cover threw me off. Looking at the cover (I had not seen the previous cover), it reminded me of some dramatic rambling historical love story, or one of those serious thought provoking explorations of love amid the backdrop of World War II on an Indian island.
That said, wow was I wrong!
The book is sub-titled “A high fantasy novel in an era of steam” and is a hybrid of Victorian era stylings with touches of steam technology and fantasy elements such as slight magical effects and spells. Neither of these play too much importance in the story. Magic only affects the story by forcing the characters to take certain paths mainly because they themselves have almost zero access to magic. This setting is exactly the sort of thing I enjoy and has all of my favorite things. Lindsay, add a zeppelin and I could marry you.
I will set up the tale briefly*. The book tells the tale of a strong, smart and exceptionally able young woman named, Amaranthe Lokdon. Due to Ms Buroker’s great skill at writing, I will put aside my normal complaint of odd names that are a pain to mentally read each time I come across them in text**.
Amaranthe is what amounts to a beat cop as the story begins, but she soon finds herself thrown into the middle of a mysterious whirlwind of crime, royalty, organized crime. Beginning as a bit goody-two-shoes and wet-behind-the-ears regulation spouting stuffy she changes during the course of the book. As the story unfolds, Amaranthe comes into her own and ends up being a confident and formidable opponent, usually not by her skill at weapons, but her deft and admirable wit. She is a very likable and interesting character. I often found myself chuckling at the sidebar mental comments she has, especially when she is dealing with the other main characters in the book. Ms Buroker is amazingly witty in her prose.
I do not want to give away too much, but the colorful troupe of characters she ends up running with are some of the most entertaining fellows one could hope to meet. Maldynado, I think I spelled it right, was instantly my favorite and his interaction with Amaranthe are some of my favorite in the book. The budding romances Amaranthe finds herself drawn into (mind you these never get beyond thought and in no way is this a romantic story) add depth and sub-plots that the author could easily expound upon in the future.
Each of the characters are well thought out and have a recognizable ‘voice’ if you know what I mean, making conversations easily read without the usual descriptors to define who is speaking. The individual side plots of redemption and discovering that you are more than a simple hunky model, or street scum, or old drunkerd, or murderer are all engaging and make you want the character to not only survive their ordeal, but rise to the top. There is a moment, oh so Hollywood, where the lead character says she will go alone, that this is not their fight and then one by one they all select to follow her. This scene is…well, heartwarming and cliché but Ms Buroker’s skill makes it hard to recognize it as cliché ! I found myself very pleased that events progressed as they did.
My only complaint with the tale was that Aramanthe seems strangely adept at getting herself into trouble throughout the book. At one point near the end, I actually said to myself “Oh goodness, she gets captured…again!” That said, these do serve a point and clearly shows the depth of Amaranthe’s growth as a character in the course of the book. In the beginning she clearly needed rescuing, not even considering an escape, by the end, escape is formulating in her mind before they have shut the cell door behind her.
I have a hard time doing this because having rated Flash Gold four stars, no doubt someone will just say I was bribed, or I am a friend of the author, but I have to say this book was so excellent, such a good read, that I am giving it four stars as well. It is easily one of the best I have read in a long time. I spent an entire Sunday, that I should have been doing other things, doing nothing but turning my digital pages, eager to see what happens next.
Do yourself a favor and get in on the early works of a great up coming author, and don’t miss the great adventure she has spun for us to enjoy.
Lindsay Buroker’s blog can be found here, she talks about her books and about breaking into the self-publishing business, an interesting read for anyone likewise minded.
Another thing I wanted to note: This is another one of the books I opted to read based on downloading a sample chapter via the Amazon Kindle website and read on my iPad. Kindle App, oh how I love thee.
*As I have stated elsewhere, I dislike reviews that simply retell the tale.
**If the name is so odd that I mentally have to sound it out each time I come to it in reading, I find it painfully annoying. It might just be me.