Epic fantasy is one those genres that we don’t see to many authors try to write as they are notably known to be a complex and difficult books to write. I think “Valley of Embers” by Steven Kelliher is a great addition to the epic fantasy genre, it shows strength and greatness that can continue through its subsequent books.
I believe one of the aspects that can make or break a great epic fantasy book is the world building and characterization and for me this was one of “Valley of Embers” strongest areas. I usually find myself love or hating characters in most books but with “Valley of Embers” I never found that as Steven Kelliher didn’t once try to make a character appear to be perfect or make them believe they were which for me made them more personable and believable. Also without giving to much away I sometimes found myself hoping that characters would recover after battle and none more so than Kole’s loyal companion Shifa. The only small negative I have is that it would have been nice to learn more about Ninyeva as she seems to be important to the story.
The world and its inhabitants has been very well crafted by Steven, as each time I picked up the book I found myself getting lost within the world and due to this there were many times when I completely lost track of time when reading it. The magic in particular was one of my favorite aspects as not only were there different uses of magic but each one interacted with the wider world in its own unique way. One area in particular that made love the magic system so much was that it never once felt that the characters had a infinite source and at times it almost felt like that the magic was their life essence. Without giving to much away I also noticed that it somewhat protected them because if they used to much then they could be left susceptible to being possessed by the Eastern Dark.
When it comes to the story itself I felt certain scenes were dragged out slightly, these mostly occurred at the very start of the book, after this they were were few and far between. Even with that in mind I still really enjoyed the story in itself. Over the years of reading I have come to expect books like epic fantasy to falter slightly falter when it comes to the story this is because there is such a vast amount of setup that needs to take place and you need to delve into the world more. One of my favorite aspects of the story were the fight scenes as I always found them highly engaging and great fun to read.
With all of this I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Valley of Embers” and I think not only for the first book in a series but more so Steven Kelliher’s first published book he has done a fantastic job in developing a great addition to the Epic Fantasy genre. I think as Steven Kelliher’s writing career furthers his work will only get better and if this is what he produces as a first book then I think we can expect great things from him in the years to come. If you are a fan of the fantasy genre then I highly recommend you pick up this book.