Erin M. Evans’ Brimstone Angels series has proven to be quite a good one as it has progressed. These novels feature the tiefling twins Havilar and Farideh as the main characters, with a great cast of supporting chracters, each of whom is different from the other. And as great as the characters are, the plots themselves have been fairly engaging on a minimal level. I love reading the adventures of these two, with Farideh struggling to learn more about her warlock pact with the cambion devil Lorcan, and Havilar falling in love with a fellow young adventurer Aubrin Crownsilver, and both of them managing all of that while also taking down the bad guys one by one.
In the recently released Fire In The Blood, the fourth novel in the series, we pick up from where we left off at the end of The Adversary last year. The characters have all made their way to the city of Suzail, the capital of the Cormyr empire where Aubrin happens to be a noble, and even one with a half-strong claim to the throne itself. Things have been pretty rough for everyone, and Erin M. Evans revisits the concept of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”. Each character has to face a great many personal challenges as they are assaulted by tons of things on all sides, and have to figure out what they really want out of their lives and the events around them. Goes without saying really that Fire In The Blood is a pretty damn good novel and is certainly the best in the series so far.
With Farideh marked by Asmodeus, the archdevil God of Sin, as one of his Chosen by the end of The Adversary, it is clear that her personal troubles have gained a whole new complexity, the kind she doesn’t need or want in her life. And with Aubrin (Brin) supposed to marry Raedra Obarskyr, a Princess of the Royal Blood of Cormyr, Havilar’s life has taken an unfortunate turn as well. The sisters have faced down some really tough enemies in the past, but this time their enemy is life itself, for no sooner do they find themselves out of one predicament than another finds them, and now they are living in one of the most hostile cities on Faerun, in that they are rather unwelcome in Suzail and are also the butt of endless gossip.
But that’s the kind of environment that Erin appears to thrive upon. She introduces several new characters in the novel, and each of them recommends himself or herself in one way or another. The two most significant of these characters are Raedra Obsarksyr and one of Cormyr’s many War Wizards, Ilstan. Thrown together with these two at every turn, Havilar and Farideh must, in turn, fight against inherent racial bias and also prove their worth to everyone around them. The followers of Shar, the Goddess of Loss, are on the march for war across Faerun, and their current target is Cormyr itself, which is where the new characters come in and where the old characters rediscover themselves.
I’ve always loved Erin’s characterization and she absolutely does not disappoint here. Farideh and Havilar are consistently presented as tough individuals, whether physically or mentally, and they are joined by the headstrong, but no less determined or decisive Raedra who certainly gives them a run for their money with the story here. Sure, with the cast being so big, not everyone gets to shine, but Raedra gets a lot of page-time in the novel, and as the pages turn and move, she also undergoes a rather epic transformation that is sure to get you excited as you follow along on her journey.
One thing I loved was the complexity of the plot. The characters have to juggle a host of different things together, even as preparations for an impending siege of Suzail begin, first in secret, and then in the open. Brin is perhaps the most conflicted character here, but he isn’t the only one, and each character’s struggle adds to the greater whole, making Fire In The Blood one of the best novels I’ve read all year bit by bit. That’s perhaps what I loved most in the novel. But that’s not everything of course since we also have some of the coolest scenes in the novel to talk about, such as the scenes where Fari’s control slips and the powers of Asmodeus flow throw her, transforming her into a rather literal Brimstone Angel, which just inspires awe and wonder in you.
I mean, they did so in me, and I’m all the more grateful for that thrill and excitement.
Another thing is that Lorcan is thoroughly corrupt, in the inherent way that devils tend to be, especially in Faerun. There had been some redeeming points in the previous novels, but I think that Fire In The Blood makes a clear case for how and why Lorcan just can’t fight his own nature. He himself has to deal with a ton of things in Malbolge since the eyes of both Asmodeus and his daughter Archduchess Glasya are now on him and he has to avoid making any misstep with either of them, for such will only end with him being the worse off, if he even survives. And I believe that since this novel follows on directly from The Adversary, that the events of The Sundering are still being felt, and that there’s more to come from these characters on that front, particularly given some of the rather spectacular twists that Erin throws into the story.
To be honest, I can keep going on and on about how good the novel is, in general and in specific both, so I’ll stop before I get to that point. Because the thing is that Fire In The Blood marks a new phase in the life of the characters involved and also is a big turning point for the overall series too, given what happens towards the end and a particular secret we learn about the twins about halfway through, something that ends up having a huge impact on what all the characters are doing in Suzail, and what it could all mean for their future together.
If you’ve been following Brimstone Angels since the start, then you will definitely remember all of the old stuff, and for those who are still technically “new”, there’s a lot going on in the novel which will keep you interested for quite a bit. Great story, great characters, great action, great climax, great almost everything. I want more!