I’m continuing my journey with Elise Kova’s Air Awakens series. After book one I was genuinely interested in Vhalla’s story and decided to pick up Fire Falling to see where it led.
Book two begins after the events of Air Awakens. The violent storm at the end of book one, now dubbed the Night of Fire and Wind, initiated a trial that put Vhalla’s life on the line. Now officially considered property of the crown, Vhalla must march north with the kingdom’s troops and fight in the war. Vhalla is unprepared and reeling from traumatic events, and she accepts she’ll meet a quick death on the battlefield. However, there are others who have a vested interest in her ability to stay alive, and they will join the march alongside the famed Windwalker to help her see another day.
The biggest surprise of this book is how relationship-focused it is. I figured the tension between Vhalla and Aldrik would always be lurking in the background of Vhalla’s new soldier journey, but it took center stage a lot of the time. The war sets the scene and keeps the plot moving forward, but the attention is always on the dance between the Windwalker and the prince. Vhalla’s development and character growth are fringe elements that happen around whatever these two characters are trying to sort out. The story also spends a lot of time on Vhalla’s relationships with the friends and soldiers she meets along the march as well.
Even though there are sorcerers, magic, and power systems, Kova doesn’t make it the focus of the story. For how rare and important Vhalla’s powers are, we rarely see them in action. And that goes for all the firebearers, waterrunners, and groundbreakers featured in the book, too. There was one incredible moment in Fire Falling where Vhalla puts her powers on display, but after that, we only witness smaller acts. There is also an interesting development between Vhalla and Aldrik’s magical bond, but even that is not explored deeply. The magic system is a major component of this story that is missing. While I love the big moments of power, they only heighten the fact that it’s absent from the story. This series is shaping up to be Vhalla and Aldrik’s story. All of the magic, war, and power dynamics simply create the complicated arena they must navigate together.
The pacing was strange at the end of this book. To avoid spoilers, I’ll say the story ends up in a particular setting at the middle point of the book and stays there…for a very long time. Then all of a sudden we’re up and moving again and the war efforts and events begin to pass by in a blur. I was annoyed by the final chapter in particular, where action arrives out of nowhere and leaves us with a cliffhanger that feels like a nasty punch to the gut. After finishing the book, I couldn’t help but think we spent a lot of time languishing in that prior setting a little too long. The wild outcomes that occurred in the last few chapters seem so out of place and didn’t have the intended impact due to the rushed nature.
Fire Falling’s quick and chaotic ending left me frustrated. The cliffhanger bothered me so much that I searched for spoilers to soothe my irritation. I enjoyed book one a lot more, but Fire Falling had its moments. However, this story feels like it was trying to fill the gaps so it could prepare the stage for book three. I think I will get to that book one day, but for now, my curiosity with this series is satiated.
Rating: Fire Falling – 5.0/10