Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Feature Review: "The Fire King," By Marjorie M. Liu

By Amy Kennedy RBTB Contributing Editor

Remember the movie Jerry Maguire? Of course you do. Renee Zellweger says to Tom Cruise, “Shut up, just shut up. You had me at ‘hello’…”

I remember thinking
wait a second you need to make him work at this. But did she? No. Because as the bigger stuff falls away, all we really want is someone to talk to. Someone who understands us.

Well, the heroine of Marjorie M. Liu’s dark, exciting, and sensually tender “The Fire King” - ninth in Liu’s Dirk & Steele series - is that sort of “someone.”

Soria knows languages - all languages – even ones she’s never heard. She’s in seclusion since the violent loss of her right arm, and the tiny fact that she’s killed someone, but the Dirk & Steele agency – a collection of paranormal private investigators - needs her mad skills. Soria agrees to communicate with our hero, Karr, because no one else can; his language hasn’t been heard in three thousand years.

Back in the day – 3000 years ago – Karr leads the chimera, mixed offspring of differing shape-shifters able to shift between combinations of each parent’s animal shape. Lots of regular shape-shifters feel threatened by the mixed breeds and war ensues. Karr tries to keep safe as many of his people as he can, and to search for those he knows are in hiding he places himself in a powerful trance. He wakes to find he’s a murderer, with no memory of the crime. Still, he must pay, asks his friend to kill him, and is left to bleed to death in his tomb.

An earthquake hits present day China, opening up part of Karr’s ancient tomb where archeologists find his so not-mummified body. A very-much-alive Karr’s captured and imprisoned. His captors? Shape-shifters. Now Karr is a stranger in a strange land and he’s pissed, until Soria has him at “hello,” and helps him escape.

Soria sees Karr’s true nature: a chimera, the son of dragon and lion shifters, yes, but also a beautiful man, whole and powerful but dependent on her ability with language. She is not a whole woman and knows someone so magnificent would never want her. On the run, Karr sees Soria as fearless. He is drawn to her, but worries about his own violent and unstable nature, and knows he should still be dead to pay for his sins.

As they seek answers – do any of his people still exist, who is behind Karr’s resurrection and who wants him dead again? They see the “whole” in the other but not themselves. Can they believe they are more than their perceived handicaps and find redemption and love?

Marjorie Liu’s deft talent allows her to write about subjects usually thought too dark for romance - prejudice, war and torture - with grace and subtlety. She weaves an adventurous, tragic tale and an achingly tender romance as her hero and heroine fall into that deep gorgeous chasm of love. You may just fall in along with them after you --

Buy the book.

Karr and Soria bring a lot of ‘baggage’ to their love: He’s a 3,000 year old possible murderer, she’s got “issues” about her missing arm… What’s the most ‘baggage’ you’d put up w/before you’d bail on a relationship? And, which two animals would you be if you were a chimera and why?


amy kennedy said...

Bellas..."baggage" is a funny thing, sometimes it's right out in the open and sometimes the little "carry-ons" are snuck in past your is-he-what-I-want radar. That said, I think there are lots of things I'd be willing to accept (and have)as long as the really good stuff outweighs any issues, and that the issues are at the very least out in the open.

Now, on to the fun stuff. I know I'm going to change my mind on this chimera thing all day, but for right now...I like the idea of a flying creature with strength...kind of like the hero, Karr. So I would chose a dragon (let's make her a pretty dragon)as one of the creatures and a horse - then I could have the option of looking like Pegasus.

Julie in Ohio said...

Morning, Bellas!!!

Well, Amy, my opinion is that if the baggage is on rollers it'll be alot easier to carry than if it's not. But if your better half is willing to go through his luggage every now and then, shed some pieces a little at a time, nothing is impossible.

If I were a chimera, I think I'd want to be something big and intimidating like an elephant. But I'd also want to be flexible and fast like a cheetah. Do you suppose that mix is even possible??

So this one still isn't Kona's. wahhhh But you had me at dark and exciting. ;p

amy kennedy said...

Ha! Julie--on rollers! And I like the comment about him going through his luggage now and then.

Sorry about the Kona thing.

And, yeah, why couldn't you be an elephant and a cheetah - I love it, in an intimidated way.

Myrin said...

Oh my, I've never been good with that "What animal would you be?"-thing, but let's give it a try.

I'd like to be a mixture of a fox - because I'm a readhead and, btw, a fox shape shifter would be something new and original, wouldn't it? - and a hawk - because they're beautiful and graceful birds and my nose has got that strange angle that kinda resembles a hawk's beak.

Being that creatue, I would be fast on eart and in the sky. How cool is that?

Oh, just btw, somehow not one link for H2H is working. Anyone else who's got a problem with that, too? Or is my computer just striking again?

amy kennedy said...

Ooooh LisaK, love the fox and hawk, I think they're paired well. Plus, who wouldn't want to be a fox?

I'll try H2H again, see if I can get there.

Keri Stevens said...

Can't get to H2H either :(

Re: baggage--My men can be as beastly as they like in fiction. In real-life, however, I found out long ago that I don't have the patience for men who can't just work hard, be nice and chill out. Fortunately, Mr. Stevens is good at all three.

Re: animals . . . in all honestly, I'd probably be a cross between a mongoose and a macaw. So I don't even want to think about what that would look like!

I ♥ Book Gossip said...

Baggage is for vacation, not for life.

Awesome post.

Count me in.

cindyc725 at gmail dot com

David B. said...

Hey Amy! Congrats and great post.

Your question is a difficult one for sure. What baggage would I put up with? It depends upon whether the "baggage" is in remission, or whether it is still playing an active role in the dynamics of the relationship. For instance, if someone is a recovering alcoholic, I could easily accept that, so long as that person wasn't drinking anymore.

We all have some baggage, don't we? We all bring something imperfect to our relationships.
For me "baggage" is about past actions, not about future decisions.

BTW, phsyical abuse on any kind is unacceptable and would represent an immediate reason to bail!

Helen Brenna said...

Nice review, Amy! You have this contributing editor thing nailed! And I completely agree with you on the Jerry Maguire thing - she shoulda made him work for it.

We all put up with issues, don't we! How much? Hmm. What I'd put up with today is significantly less than 20 years ago, that's for sure! lol

amy kennedy said...

I heart book gossip, ha! Good point.

David, absolutely, when someone's actively working on something it's way easier to put up with--and your absolutely right on the abuse issue. Glad you brought it up.

Helen! Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I got this contributing editor thing down, as long as Michelle is there to edit me! Isn't it funny - and by that I mean great - how we take less and less crap the older we get?

orannia said...

Nice review Amy - thank you! I really need to get a move on with Soul Song and this book sounds good :) And can I just saw that I really like that the heroine has baggage. I think everyone has baggage, to a greater or lesser degree...we just need to find the right someone, not who will ignore the baggage but will help us shed it :)

As for which animals...definitely a leopard :) And...*thinks* a hawk.

LizbethSelvig said...

Definitely a great debut column Amy! You're a great "saleswoman" too -- I'm all over buyin' this book.

I think baggage is in the eye of the beholder. What one person is willing to put up with would drive another to jump off a bridge -- or push the baggage-owner off! I have to agree with David: physical abuse is non-negotiable. I think I would have a hard time living with a person who controlled my life and didn't respect what I love to do -- but is that baggage or just a bad characteristic?

As for animals? I'd be a kangaroo and a pegasus. The image of those magical roos hopping so high and fast they finally just remain in the air and sprout wings while morphing into flying horses ... THAT would be cool. And warped but ...

Congrats Amy -- Michelle picked another great CE! Enjoy!

amy kennedy said...

Orannia, I know, usually it's the hero who has the obvious baggage.

Lizee, I think that's a bad characteristic--but maybe it was brought on by unexamined baggage. Okay, I have to say, a kangaroo and a pegasus may be the least expected combination...but I like it. And thanks for the congrats. Oh, a nd Liz--this book is truly beautiful.

amy kennedy said...

Hey everyone, just a heads-up on how to get to H2H: Once you're at Unabashadly Bookish, to the right under Announcements: new blogs, you'll find a link to Heart To Heart. click on that and voila!

amy kennedy said...

Or, you know, if you want to do it the easy way...the link in the pretty box in the body of the review works now too.

Becke Davis said...

Amy - I love Marjorie Liu's books, so I was excited to see that you featured her in your blog today. I watched for her at Lori Foster's event but never met her -- and only later realized she was sitting by a friend and I didn't know it!