Sunday, 6 April 2014

Firelight of Heaven

Firelight of Heaven by Lizbeth Klein (Wombat Books)
HB RRP $16.95
ISBN 978-1-921632-47-1
Reviewed by Peta Biggin

Robbie and Dougray have grown up with their grandfather knowing only the rule of the evil king Morgran. After a rebel meeting they are attending is ambushed by the kings’ soldiers, they are forced to flee their home. Running for their lives, they travel over the mountain into the perilous lands of Gardenia.  After they meet Belle, an Elf girl, they begin a quest to locate the seven lost crystals of the Morning Star and overthrow Morgran.  Their journey is fraught with danger as they face magic and monsters the likes of which they have never seen.  But one dark secret threatens to tear them apart altogether.

Firelight of Heaven is the first book in the Bethloria fantasy series and introduces us to the three heroes: Robbie, Dougray and Belle. It is an exciting beginning; a fast paced book with plenty of action that would appeal to kids from upper primary to lower secondary, both boys and girls.

At this early stage, the plot is focussed on the journey of the two boys, Robbie and Dougray.  They are two very different people and the story alternates between their perspectives which gives the reader greater insight into the inevitable friction that occurs between them.  They cope very differently with the events around them and their relationship is quite changed by the end of the book.  

Approximately half way through the story, we meet Belle the Elf girl. She is a strong, capable female character and not introduced purely as a romantic interest – although there is certainly room for that to develop. She is calm and wise, in contrast to the boys’ often rash and emotional behaviour.  She is also something of an enigma. Whilst we know the backstory of the two boys, we learn very little of Belle’s personal history.

It was easy to engage with all three of these characters. They are all likeable, despite their flaws, and I was easily carried along with them.  I am looking forward to seeing how they develop through future books.

The world that Lizbeth has created is a dark one, ruled by evil forces. The dangers that the trio face reflect this: giant spiders, rock trolls, werewolf-like creatures and giant, hooded guardians plague their journey. The battle-scenes are particularly exciting and often bloody without being unnecessarily gory.

Overall, I really enjoyed Firelight of Heaven and finished the book wanting to start the next instalment immediately.  It will appeal to any fantasy-lovers both young and old.  The second book in the series, Green Heart of the Forest, is due for release in 2014.

Lizbeth Klein has over nineteen years’ experience in the classroom and has written several stories for the Yellow Box – a reading kit for early primary readers.  Firelight of Heaven was shortlisted in the 2010 Caleb Unpublished Manuscript competition.  The second book, Green Heart of the Forest, was a finalist in the 2011 Caleb competition.  She lives in the Sutherland Shire, NSW, with her husband.  She can be found online at:

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