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  • Lovely characters, creative world building.

    'This Golden Flame,' the debut novel from Emily Victoria, is a tale of rebellion amongst the almost single-minded determination of the Scriptorium. Eager to unlock the magic of an ancient automaton army littered throughout the land of Eratia, they're quick to send away those who may get in their way. For Karis, that means her brother is long gone.. and she'll do anything to find him. While seeking her brother.. Matthias' whereabouts, she awakens a hidden automaton. Seeming to have sentient intelligence, Alix seems to have a moral compass.. but no idea why he was created or why his father once tried to destroy them all. Suddenly, control isn't enough for the Scriptorium. They're on the hunt. Leaving Karis and Alix to find her brother and the secret surrounding the automatons. I found it interesting that though the lead is just trying to find her brother, for the most part.. she's kind of outcast.. even by the others like her. Though, Dane is actually really lovely. Karis is a bit of a screw-up, but her heart is in the right place and I love that sense of loyalty within her and it's nice to see the Aroace rep in a fantasy MC. It feels like little by little our stories are becoming a bit more diverse.. too slowly.. yes.. but I'll take the forward progress. Alix has a lot of inner-conflict to deal with, largely due a lack of coherent memories and it doesn't help that those in power want to leverage him. He's a darling though.. despite having a lot of baggage and I found myself forgetting that he was really different in the first place, as automaton or not.. he felt so vulnerably human in some ways. Like many, the magic system was rune based and I always enjoy magic that requires some kind of tangible focal point. What I found interesting was that it wasn't just about the result either, the process of making the rune mattered. Though the Scriptorium thing very reminiscent of the Magisterium for me, they were similar.. but still different. The general feeling of oppression was there, though the scribes weren't just members benefitting from their participation. Emily does a great job of letting the reader experience the world around them, rather than just telling them everything.. which is something I appreciate. There's nothing that can ruin immersion faster for me than being given a tour like the story is more of a verbal open house. It is a fairly simple story that's easy to read and maybe lacking a little in the complexity department, but not every book has to be an epic 800 page story either. It's very enjoyable and a good first showing for an author with a promising future. (I received this title as an ARC. All opinions are mine and freely given.)

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