Back in November, I purchased Trials of Fire by Richard Hein for $.99 on Amazon. The author had put it on sale, and it looked pretty cool. I downloaded the book to my Kindle and began the long, ADD-laden journey of finishing it. I'm easily distracted.
Trials of Fire is the first in the Divine Order Saga. If I remember correctly, the book will soon be available in print as well. It's a fantasy novel with its roots in the steampunk genre.
The story begins with the graduation of a few twentysomethings from their training for the religious Order, after which they are able to basically act as the will of the gods that they worship, armed with swords. They're a little like the Jedi, only the swords are your basic magic weapons. The main characters set out on what seems to be a routine investigation into some local disturbance, and along the way pick up and shelter a girl who appears to be on the run from the law. There's magic, battles, and all that good stuff. I won't spoil it for you.
But this is a book review, so I must critique. While an interesting concept, the book probably could have used a second eye during the editing process. There were many places where easy-to-catch typos just ran rampant. It seems that find and replace was employed with one of the interesting wording choices, because it was consistent but didn't fit quite right, which leads me to believe that it was a mistake, rather than quirky in-story dialogue. There were often times in the end of the book where "there/their" mistakes, and similar, appeared. A few times, whole verbs were absent from the story. Instances where characters "seemed" to do this or "seemed" to feel that way just occurred too frequently. As a reader, I found these things pretty distracting, and that's never good.
As far as story, it was solidly plotted and does leave some questions open at the end, welcoming a next installment in the series. I did notice that the author took great care, several times and very conspicuously, to mention that there hadn't been a war in a long time. It was a little ham-fisted. I didn't find the descriptions of battle very interesting, but this probably rests with me. I'm not a fan of reading about sword-fights. It's too much like watching something in slow motion, and often I'm lost simply because I know almost nothing about swords or using them in combat. Admittedly, this is a bit of a nitpick.
If you want a nicely plotted steampunk homage to Star Wars, you'll probably like this book. It wasn't quite my cup of tea, but with some tidying up in the grammar department, it would be pretty decent.