Valley of Embers by Steven Kelliher

Book review Valley of Embers

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Valley of Embers, the first book of the series The Landkist Saga by the debutante author Steven Kelliher is a wonderful high/epic fantasy novel with its unique magic system and solid storytelling.

This book has charmed me with its cover. Have you met someone with such a stunning face that you forgot to look for a name? It happened to me when I first saw the cover of Valley of Embers. The beauty and professionalism of presentation don’t end on the cover. The chapter demarcations of the Kindle e-book are neat and creative, and Kindle page flip is enabled (I think it adds to the fun of reading).

I appreciate the author’s investment in a stunning book cover and format. A beautiful face always helps. However, a time comes when we move on from the first amazement and look for more. We want a personality, a strength of character, a story. Sometimes I wonder how different is a book from a person…

Umm, where were we? Ah, right, the story. An excellent story I must say. A young hero with the unique ability to wield fire (or flame, what’s the difference?) is an Emberfolk. He gets hot from time to time. Joking, but really, his skin heats up since he is an Ember. Interesting, isn’t it?

A group of warriors protects their people with sword and sorcery (isn’t that flame wielding thingy some form of sorcery?) against Sauron and his minions. Wait, what? That was LOTR. Right.

Ok, let’s start again. Young heroes fight against mysterious dark creatures with unusual names like Dark Kind, Eastern Dark, Sentinels, (nice play with nouns, sir! You want to us to feel the fear of unknown) to protect their village, on a valley secured from the rest of the world. That may sound like your typical high fantasy or epic fantasy genre. However, the lyrical beauty of prose and vividness of imagery gives this book an edge over other similar work.

Valley of Embers starts with an action-packed scene, gradually flowing into a descriptive few chapters of background information and character development, picking up the pace again after some time, with more action scenes.

The characters are interesting, all showing a variety of strength and weaknesses. The relationship between the lead characters and those with less exposure are intriguing. Nobody is perfect, but almost all the important ones are compelling enough.

The plot is solid, but the structure is uneven, at times. As the book progressed, I felt that the original beauty of prose was lost somewhere. The dialogues felt like an information dump, and ambiguous sometimes. A few chapters were descriptive while others were action packed. The author narrates the fight scenes very well (why wouldn’t he, being an expert?). He helps you visualize the battle, the fierce might of fire, magical weapons (see the cover) and crossbows, and the strange mind attack of the mysterious foe. However, the ‘evil’ of this book failed to instill fear in my heart. I wonder if a bunch of very young warriors, some of whom have faced the demonic beings for the first time in their lives, are wary enough, but not afraid. I am not talking about shitting the pants fear, but the big bad Demons didn’t scare me enough either (maybe I am just as brave as the Ember folks).

The author uses such vivid imagery to describe the battle or build his bleak, yet a beautiful little world that I can close my eyes and picture myself joining the young boys and girls in their quests, or simply roam around the forest.

Better editing could have helped with some out-of-place dialogues, few typos, and the abrupt changes in pace and flow, but this is just the first book. I am sure the next one will be even better.

The Landkist Saga shows great potential as a series, and I am looking forward to reading the next in line. Overall, an excellent debut. Steven Kelliher is an author who is here to stay and amaze us for a long time.

This book is available on Amazon if you want a good holiday read.

Valley of Embers (The Landkist Saga Book 1) and Valley of Embers (The Landkist Saga Book 1)

Valley of Embers Book Cover

Valley of Embers

The Landkist Saga

Steven Kelliher

High/Epic Fantasy, sword and sorcery


August 16th 2016




Book blurb

For hundreds of years, the flame-wielding Embers have been the last line of defense against the nightmare creatures from the World Apart, but the attacks are getting worse. Kole Reyna guards Last Lake from the terrors of the night, but he fears for his people’s future.

When Kole is wounded by a demon unlike any they have seen before, the Emberfolk believe it is a sign of an ancient enemy returned; a powerful Sage is known as the Eastern Dark.

Kole has never trusted in prophecy, but with his people hanging on the precipice, he reluctantly agrees to lead the Valley’s greatest warriors in a last desperate bid for survival. Together, they will risk everything in search of a former ally long-thought dead, and whether Kole trusts him or not, he may be the only one capable of saving them.


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  1. Nidhi D Bruce

    I’m not into high fantasy at all. For me the movies are the only view into this world that seems to have taken the fancy of such a large part of the reading populace. But, having said that – your review is very good. balanced and interesting.

So what say you?