Firesky (The Chronicles of Stratus #2) by Mark de Jager

Relentless. Unstoppable. Dragon.

Desire burns in Stratus’ soul, powerful like an inferno. With his memory returning, he finally knows who—and what—he is. His is a dragon, brought low by the hand of a dark magician known as the Worm King, separated from his true love, tortured for centuries and now trapped inside the body of a human.

But with the memories of his old life comes a return of his true magic, and with it, his true form is slowly returning.

And Stratus wants revenge. Bloody and relentless, he slaughters his way through hordes of the undead to reach his archenemy, fighting not only for his own justice but for the whole of humanity…

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My Review

Firstly I would like to thank Rebellion Publishing and NetGalley for authorizing a digital review copy of this book for me.

“I was Stratus Firesky, the Dead Wind. The Destroyer”

Firesky begins right where Infernal, Book 1 in The Chronicles of Stratus series left off. Now Stratus knows exactly who and what he is and he’s angry. His memories of his awful maltreatment at the hands of his old enemy, Navar Louw, now known as The Worm Lord, have also returned. Now that the dragon has been let out of the bag he is dead set on vengeance:

For years he had sat in the centre of a vast web, ostensibly teaching the wizards who would take to the fields to fight the very army he was leading, all the while corrupting and subverting their will to his own. And even then he had pursued a greater prize: me.

In Firesky Stratus roams the land fighting his way through the hoards of wizards (“recognizable by the burnt spice odour of their magic”), undead and other monstrous creatures that are fighting on necromancer Navar Louw’s side in the war. He rescues his friend Crow the tinker, who he met in Infernal and the two travel together for a while. Their friendship is endearing and also works as a kind of light relief from the killing and necromancy. Stratus is nothing if not practical:

‘If you don’t eat, you will die, and I will have carried you for nothing.’ He shook his head, then laughed wetly. ‘You’re a strange one, son. Strangest by a country mile for sure.’

Due to Stratus using his blood to save Tatyana’s life they now have a shared sorcerous bond and he is able to use it to locate and attempt to rescue her from the hoard of necromancers and evil creatures surrounding The Worm Lord’s fortress.

Through flashbacks we learn of Stratus’s tragic captivity and torture at the hands of Navar Louw, and something of his relationship with his mate. These and the main part of the story are told from Stratus’s perspective, but we also occasionally get snippets from the ‘Private Annals of Tiberius Talgoth, Archmage’ which also help to fill in Stratus’s back story from the perspective of one of his enemies.

The sorcery and magic system within these two books were based on energy vibration, which I thought was an interesting approach, referred to by Stratus as being drawn from the Songlines:

“All magic, whether the formulaic approach that humans took or the sorcery that flowed through me had harmony at its heart. Vibration. Music. And like music, it has many forms. Some musicians sing, while others play instruments. Some of those use lutes, others harps, and each has its own range of pitches and resonances that it can achieve.”

The worldbuilding was good without being too noticeable. We are seeing the world through Stratus’s eyes and experiences and he has no time to stop and admire the scenery. He does suffer his way through stinking, sucking bogs, attacked endlessly by biting insects, however, and finds climbing through a pit of slimy, putrid dead bodies a disgusting yet necessary task.

Firesky is easily as compelling as Infernal. It is dark fantasy at its best and you need a strong stomach to enjoy it! If you enjoy dark fantasy with plenty of magic and battling wizards, paladins and necromancers, monsters and a dragon you will love this story!

About the Author

Mark isn’t sure if his love of writing led to his love of gaming or vice versa, but his earliest memories involve both. He now spends his time trying to find a balance between these and working a full time job, a process made slightly easier by his coffee addiction.

An ex-MP in the South African army, Mark now lives in south London with his wife Liz (herself a published author) in a flat that is equal parts library and home.

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