I started Russell Kirkpatrick's second book in the Fire of Heaven trilogy, In the Earth Abides the Flame, with anticipation. I had enjoyed all the adventures and all the twists in the story of the first book, Across the Face of the World, and was eager to continue the story in the second book.
The end of the first book left the Company in the city of Instruere, planning their next step to warn the Council of Faltha about the upcoming Brudwan invasion. The Council was more corrupted than they realized, and their pleas and warnings fall on deadly ears. They end up as fugitives, but not before one of their Company, the scholar Phemanderac, found out that the Jugom Ark, the famed arrow that the Most High intended as the symbol of unity between men, was real, and that they needed to find it to save Faltha.
He deciphered a riddle which described the hiding place of the Jugom Ark, and the Company set out on a quest to find it and bring it back to unite Faltha. Many obstacles and challenges stand in their way, and they find that they have many enemies trying to stop them but also many friends who help them on their quest.
In my review of the first book, I said that I was a more character-focused reader and was disappointed with the character inconsistencies, but I did enjoy the plots and the adventures Kirkpatrick takes us on. In the second book, In the Earth Abides the Flame, I still enjoy the Company's adventures and the remarkable journeys they go through in their quest, and I still can't identify with any of the characters.
It is an otherwise good story, with very clever plot twists, but it is getting harder to enjoy it because the more I get to know the characters, the more I feel like I don't really know anything about them at all – they don't really evolve and it's really hard to understand them or their motives. The beautiful and lush descriptions of the scenery are getting more tedious to get through, and I find myself skipping much of it to get to the action scenes.
I am not giving up on the story though. I'm still interested to find out what happens next in the final book of the Fire of Heaven trilogy, but perhaps I'll skip much more of the descriptive passages and get to the exciting parts.
Despite the problems I have with the character inconsistencies and the long-winded passages about the scenery, In the Earth Abides the Flame tells a really great story and I really enjoy the plots within the story. Perhaps Kirkpatrick could have a better-written story if he focused a little bit more on the characters and kept them true, and if he cut down just a little bit more on all the scenery descriptions, but it is a true testament to the story itself that I still enjoy it even with these daunting problems. I'm looking forward to reading the final book of the trilogy and finding out what happens next.