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Citadel of Fire
Matthew Wolf, author

Adult; Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror; (Market)

Seventeen-year old Gray is descended from a legendary hero known as a Ronin. Haunted by his forgotten past, he returns home to a wizards’ keep, unaware he is now labeled a murderous traitor for killing his best friend. Returning could be a death sentence, but the journey alone is perilous. Along the way, Gray discovers he has a grandfather. Now he must reach the city before his only living family dies beneath a madman’s torture. Getting there will be a challenge, however, as an enthrallingly unpredictable woman, a dangerous desert, and a horde of thieves stand in his way. Wielding the banished power of wind, Gray rallies against the poisonous evil that seeks to convert the world to their mantra, “strength is life, weakness death.” Yet with an affable scoundrel and a clever bookworm at his side, Gray discovers the world’s greatest secret… He is not the only one with hero’s blood, and the legend of the Ronin walk the world once again.

"Untold ages ago, Kail, a robed figure with nine mystical warriors known as the Ronin, appeared and brought peace and enlightenment to 12 kingdoms that had been experiencing a dark age of chaos and evil. After a millennium of peace, Farhaven suddenly descended into darkness again when Kail and the Ronin apparently turned on mankind; although they were temporarily defeated, their threat continues to loom. The present-day narrative follows a number of characters whose destinies cross when the followers of an evil, magic-using Arbiter, Sithel, capture and torture Ezrah, a powerfully magical old man. One of these characters is Ezrah’sgrandson, Gray, who was forced to choose between saving the world and losing his identity; he has no clear memory of who he once was but is still haunted by the specter of his former self. He travels with a young man and woman, Darius and Ayva, and they join forces with a woman with a dark past named Faye, a young thief named Zane, and others after they receive a vision of Ezrah in captivity.

Wolf has created a richly detailed, complex fantasy universe populated by intriguing characters who will continually surprise readers throughout the briskly paced tale. Gray is a particularly well-developed protagonist, even with his mystical amnesia. Despite the novel’s classic genre trappings, it refreshingly allows some of the villainous characters to change. Unfortunately, it isn’t particularly welcoming to newcomers who haven’t read the first in the series, and it might have benefited from some plot recapping; also, the characters’ recurring use of the word “dice” as a curse grows rather tedious. Aside from these minor quibbles, however, this is a strong, confident fantasy novel.

An impressive, page-turning adventure for fans of the series."