Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Emerald Fire by A. Catherine Noon & Rachel Wilder

The harsh desert world of Persis has developed its own customs far from Old Earth. Keepers are cherished as caregivers and helpmeets to Hunters. During Emerald Keeper Teeka’s first Contract with Senior Hunter Brant, disaster strikes. Brant is killed and Teeka is stranded, surrounded by strangers, and unsure of who to trust. A dark and moody Hunter steps forward with an offer of partnership and protection. Teeka wonders what motivates the scarred and solitary Senior Hunter Quill. Both have hidden motives for agreeing, and both are suspicious of each other. But the Great Valley will force them to work together and build a trust born out of necessity and survival. Between the dangers of the harsh desert and the malice of a hidden enemy, Teeka and Quill must learn to believe in each other to find the truth.

Reviewer: White Daisy
A. Catherine Noon and Rachel Wilder's story, Emerald Fire, begins with the introduction of the main character named Teeka.

Teeka is a novice Emerald Keeper and Brant is an established Senior Hunter of five years. Brant is several years older than Teeka and his superior. Teeka meets Brant in Cyrus, where they sign a contract to work together as a Hunter and his caregiver. Even if Teeka is relatively inexperienced, he always wished to contract with a Hunter, to travel and find love beyond of the bustle of city life. His wish comes true when he signs a contract with Brant.

As the story opens, Teeka and Brant have been working together for a good two months. Teeka is in the Great Valley awaiting Brant, who has set the first stake on the spur of their discovery and bade Teeka to wait while he hiked to stake the main claim by entering their code. While waiting on Brant, Teeka reflects on how he informed Brant that he wanted other contracts after this one with Brant expires. Teeka doesn't understand what is keeping Brant so long. After a long while, Teeka is startled by a new voice.

A Hunter, Quill, has come to find Teeka. Hunter Quill tells Teeka to accompany him back to Kotek City. Quill informs Teeka that Brant has been killed and gored by a sandboar. This is a huge shock. Teeka can't understand how it could happen if he was so near and didn’t hear anything. In Teeka's eyes, Quill seems like a wraith and is a taciturn Hunter. After they arrive back to Kotek City, Quill leads Teeka to Hunters' Pavilion where Teeka is told that Brant didn’t succeed in staking the main claim and entering the code. Teeka can’t let other Hunters claim what Brant and he found. On an impulse, Teeka decides, he will go out with the hunter party to retrieve Brant body, and take the opportunity to enter the code on his own, before other hunters claim what Brant and he have found.

I enjoyed the slow pace of Teeka's and Quill's developing relationship. From a reserved mistrust, to friendship and, at the end, toward becoming lovers and bond mates, it is funny how Teeka and Quill mistrust each other from the start. Teeka is kind and reserved toward others, but when he is around Quill he becomes snappy and temperamental. I liked that it gives Teeka more character definition, making him real and interesting. Quill is a silent and calming force. However, the way this story ends, I wasn’t really satisfied. Everything develops too fast and it felt rushed. I would rather a deeper and more thorough explanation about “the bad guy's” motivations. A lot of questions starting with “Why?” don't get answered. I was irritated by those omissions. Overall, I’m giving Emerald Fire 4.5 stars.

 Publisher: Torquere Press
Review Courtesy Of: ManicReaders


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