Firebound (Spellbringers #2) by Tricia Drammeh (4.2 Stars)

The Book

The book sticks to the narration style of the previous one, however less regular. This time, the narrators do not switch according to chapters, but according to events.

Alisa and Bryce are a couple. This book aims to show their relationship, her understanding and being able to cope with his character, while struggling with his forwardness, jealousy and possessiveness. At the same time, Alisa fights against her own insecurities of being not worthy to be with a Spellbringer and tries to figure out the meaning of the Claiming Words that Bryce spoke to her.

Rachel, meanwhile, continues to struggle with her mother’s expectations, her magical heritage and the Alexanders’ expectations, and Ra’Vel’s advances. Staying away from the demon turns out to be far less easy than expected, threatening not only her sanity, but also her relationship with Jace.

Why I Read The Book

 I must admit, the part of the book’s summary that mentioned Alisa and Bryce being hopelessly in love was much more enticing than Rachel’s relationship with a demon. I think, had the story focused on Rachel, I wouldn’t have continued reading. In fact, I was prepared to return the book, hadn’t it started with a chapter from Alisa’s point of view.

The Idea

I remain with the fact that I love the Spellbringer community as new, interesting, and fascinating. The narrated stories continue to be split, almost separate from one another. Alisa focuses on her relationship with Bryce and Rachel on hers with Jace as well as Ra’Vel. This style offers different perspectives on the world of the Spellbringers, which enhances the readers’ knowledge of it. The story dives even deeper into this fascinating community.

Characters

Alisa remains my favourite character. I like the way she is narrated, the details of her chapters, and the humanity they entail – humanity not only because she is, in fact, a human, but also because she has a really good character. Her struggles to understand and find a place among a family of Spellbringers makes it appear that she lets people walk all over her, but she is a strong person, especially when pushed. While she has changed much since she met the Alexanders and feels free to be herself around them, it is interesting to see her behaviour when she is back with the people of her past. She didn’t have a complete character change, but found her people and is only just growing into that role.

Rachel continues to be the character that frustrates me most. I think this is mostly because of her outward perfect appearance. She has so much going on between her mother, chores, the church, on the one side – which she apparently masters without problems –, and Jace, the Alexanders, her family history, Ra’Vel, on the other side – which helplessly overwhelms her but the reader expects her to cope with as well as with her non-magical life. I kept thinking that she should be able to make a decision and be done either with one or the other, especially since she is obviously destroying her life by the way she handles things. There are moments when she seems to understand the danger she is in and the role she might play in the Spellbringer community, like at the end of the first book, but then comes the next chapter, and she seems to have forgot all about that. She is too much of a one step forward, two steps backwards character.

Jace, the character introduced as the perfect book boyfriend, having manners, being able to judge by character and not looks, being polite, funny and, most importantly, well-proportioned, loses points with almost every appearance in this book. Then again, he is mostly seen through Rachel’s eyes, and she is going through so much, she cannot focus on him anymore. Jace develops a temper that doesn’t go well with his former display of humour and playfulness.

Bryce is still one of the most dynamic characters, though he seems to regress backwards through most of the book. He doesn’t go back to his cruel, cold self, but there is still obvious darkness about him, and his insecurities overwhelm him at times. He is pushy and possessive with Alisa, making it difficult to believe his love for her that he claims. He appears inconsiderate of her, no matter how often he repeats he would move their relationship at her pace.

Mikael has already been introduced in the first book, as Bryce’s sparring partner at the Warrior Academy. He had been interested in Alisa, but was shut down by Bryce. In the second book he joins as a summer guest who is offered to serve as Rachel’s Protector. Mikael is good-looking and good-humoured. He gets along with everyone and can entertain an entire room no matter how awkward the initial meeting between the people present was. I didn’t like him in the first book, which is personal, as I cannot understand people who are that out-going. It is suspicious to me. I didn’t like him much more in the second book, though I cannot doubt that he is very able in his profession, and he seems an all-round good guy whom everybody gets along with.

Realization and Writing Style

Since the focus was much more on Rachel, and often Alisa’s chapter seemed more out of necessity to let her speak, than actually giving her something to say, I didn’t like the book as much as the first one.

I will admit that I revelled in everything Alisa had to say, and especially enjoyed her scenes with Bryce – even though I only very slowly understood the dynamic of their relationship. Alisa, though involved directly, took even longer than I did, to understand some of Bryce’s actions.

Actually, I find that Bryce might just be the most interesting character, and definitely the one where it’s necessary to read most between the lines. After the death of his brother, he turned the bad way. He is not able to cope with the loss, especially since he had worshipped his older brother as a hero, whose footsteps he wanted to follow. But the darkness in Bryce started even before Royce died. Bryce had inherited too many of his father’s dark gifts, and the opportunities they gave him, paired with his insecurities and self-consciousness about his own powers, opened the path of darkness. For a long time I didn’t quite understand why it was necessary for him to speak the Claiming Words to Alisa as soon as they were physically/geographically together. But it became clear to me, that hadn’t he done it, she wouldn’t have been as strong in her role as his anchor as this pledge made her. The downside of speaking the words without having been in a long relationship with a girl, especially a human who is as young as Alisa, and doesn’t understand the real meaning of a man speaking the Claiming Words to the woman he loves, pushes him towards darkness once more. To avoid that, Bryce has to more or less pressure Alisa into sleeping with him, or he’d go crazy. I find that as twistedly crazy, as I find it absolutely fascinated and brilliant.

While Alisa and Bryce follow the way of ultimate romance, the relationship of Jace and Rachel develops more and more into a typical high school romance, more a thing of appearance and conviction to belong together than actually knowing they love the other person and knowing without a doubt that they belong together. There isn’t much romance left for these two, just the assumed shared destiny because of the mind link. But in the course of the novel, not even that is unique between these two anymore, as she willingly forms a link with Ra’Vel, while the link with Jace was an accident of inexperience. Rachel is getting so used to keeping secrets, that she cannot even find it in her to be completely honest with Jace, the one person that has always supported her.

As I did in the first book, I found Rachel too jumpy in her decisions, still convinced that she is a one step forwards, two steps backwards kind of person. Alisa is a more forward kind of person, hardly taking any steps back, even though she was a bit slow and indecisive with Bryce’s advances.

While the reader’s knowledge of the community of the Spellbringers is slowly enhanced, I find that the narration skirted around actually explaining many of the processes. Rachel was never very dedicated to her studies, but when it is mentioned that she is willing to learn, it is summarized just like that, within one sentence. I would have loved to read a detailed report of her concentrating on her powers, acquainting herself with them, testing different things, and just generally get a feel for them. I think that would have added a lot of authenticity to the story.

This book’s climax surprised me, as the book seemed to focus so much on Rachel’s development. I didn’t see Alisa and Bryce being at the centre. However, even though it was yet again a rather short showdown between good and evil, the setting was much better and the outcome utterly rewarding. The scenes leading towards and rounding up the climax may just be my favourites of the entire series.

After Reading

Addicted. Again. That was a really beautiful book full of babies and weddings and romance. And a few other things I wasn’t too interested in. But, especially the wedding part, is what makes me really curious about the next book.

Rating

Idea: 5 Stars
Characters: 4 Stars
Realization: 3 Stars
Writing Style: 5 Stars
General Rating: 4 Stars
Personal Rating: 4 Stars

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