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Zurga’s Fire

Zurga's Fire (The Orfeo Saga, #3)4 Stars

Travel back in time in this fantastical adventure with Zurga’s Fire, book three in the Orfeo Saga. Murray Lee Eiland Jr weaves his tale that takes place in historical Greece and the rest of the Mediterranean. Broken up into four books filled with short, easy to digest chapters we begin with Daryush, a young man who has been living as a consort for the Empress Zinaida. If you are just coming into this saga, you won’t be able to get a true grasp on what previous volumes have covered. What we learn from Daryush and Zinaida is that theirs is a young love and she has recently acquired her position of power. Due to their differences Daryush decides to leave Babylon in order to preserve his life. We then begin to follow him on his journey while meeting other important characters and breaking off to follow them. It all comes back around and end with Daryush.

Eiland is very good at keeping his chapters short and to the point. Instead of long, drawn out chapters that cover far too much information to digest well, this tale has the benefit of being broken into four books and a total of 70 chapters. While that may seem like a lot, the story doesn’t break 300 pages. There is even a historical note for those history buffs who are reading. This is a historical fantasy-adventure tale and Eiland does his best to keep information as true to history while taking certain artistic liberties. This makes the book easy to read without getting bogged down by technicalities. While the information regarding tribes, empires and villages is indeed massive, it is all presented in shortened, easy to read ways.

Daryush is not the titular character, although he feels like one. He weaves in and out of the story that the reader can get deluded into thinking it’s all about him. The book is called Zurga’s Fire for a reason and that is made quite apparent in the third book within this volume.

Aside from being a bit in the dark to previous accomplishments in the first two books, Zurga’s Fire stands well on its own. The story feels complete at the end and doesn’t leave too many unanswered questions. The writing is clean with little to no grammatical errors and the chapter formatting is nice on the eyes. The intrigue, romance and mystery that pepper the tale are all tasteful with nothing feeling forced or contrived. This is a spectacular feat to accomplish when you have so many characters with such intricate lives.

If you’re looking for a good read that won’t have you feeling overwhelmed then Zurga’s Fire by Murray Lee Eiland Jr is definitely something you should consider. Not too heavy on historical explanations and easy to read with short chapters, this third installment in the Orfeo Saga is pleasant and satisfying.

Pages: 244 | ASIN: B017YFKZSU

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The Emperor of Babylon

The Emperor of Babylon (The Orfeo Saga, #2)4 StarsThe Emperor of Babylon opens with Zurga being captured by a mysterious group and whisked away to Babylon. Despite his skills as a Wanderer, his captors appear to be well prepared. The purpose of his capture becomes clear as an old friend demands to be granted the power Zurga is rumored to possess from the well-known war of years past. This rumor is what spurs the plot forward, along with the discovery of a new metal used for weapons, as Zurga and his friends search for a way to keep Nurim Sin from waging war on anyone who has a power he might fear. In the meantime, the village of the Wanderers has been neglecting its duty, leaving them open to the dangers of the world.

Orfeo and Clarice, on their separate, but shared, quest to find Zurga, are both given the opportunity to grow, and the reader is treated to two very different styles of travel through these characters. It gives the narrator a lot of breathing room when it comes to how the story is told, developing each of them into well rounded individuals, rather than a married couple.

I felt that Nurim Sin was not presented as a very dangerous antagonist, and the fear and tension normally derived from that was lacking. Because Zurga and his crew are granted a seemingly easy escape, it diminishes the suspense regarding Nurim Sin’s actions in the future. Much is revealed about Nurim Sin’s plans by him talking to characters like Zurga and Clarice, which removes the concern a reader might have about his secret plans.

The first half of the novel follows the characters as they travel and try to avoid suspicion. There are hints of a threat to the characters, but the anxiety from the danger is rarely felt. The characters were a highlight in this novel. I felt that they were well developed, nuanced and had meaningful interactions. The second half of the book shows the politics of the region as pieces fall into place in preparation for war. The characters play their parts and move the pieces as much as they can. Clarice’s deception of Nurim Sin is entertaining and I wish I was treated to more of it because that’s the kind of action that makes this book shine.

Overall, the novel has many entertaining moments built on slowly developed tension and conflict. The characters are dynamic and intriguing and the author does a good job of establishing new faces in the story. I can’t wait for the third book, but I’ll be begging for more edge of your seat conflict that this series has the potential to deliver.

Pages: 256 | B016SNL510

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