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Catalyst: The passage of Hellsfire
by Marc Johnson
Length: 364 pages
Editions: kindle and paperback
Publisher: Longshot Publishing
Published: 2011 & repub 2013
For centuries, the kingdom of Alexandria has protected Northern Shala from the monstrous creatures lurking in the Wastelands. Now, a dark force threatens that fragile peace.
Far from home, Alexandria’s princess is abducted. When a young villager named Hellsfire stumbles upon her and her captors, he rushes in to rescue her, alone and unarmed. His fear and fury unleash an uncontrollable magical force that grants him the power to save the princess—and change the world.
Hellsfire has never craved nor dreamed of power. But such magic as he now possesses has not been seen in Northern Shala for a thousand years, since the devastation of the War of the Wizards and the creation of the Wastelands.
Now Hellsfire must leave all he’s ever known, and make a dangerous journey to learn to master this wild, ferocious power—power he knows he is not ready to wield. More difficult still, he needs to master his emotions. If he can’t, the power will consume him, Alexandria will fall, and darkness will eclipse the land, destroying everyone he loves.
In the dead of cold, the spark shall burn...
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I really enjoyed this one; I thought it was an imaginative tale with magic, war, and monstrous creatures to be beaten. The biggest and the worst of the enemies faced is another human wizard, one who aims to take over the world, to have it all to himself, to rule over all: the humans, the monstrous creatures, the elves, the dwarves, and the wizards, too. I expect the worst evil to come from humans, actually, as opposed to some fairy tale creature! Humans always seem to have the most evil of intentions, always wanting to conquer something, rule over others, etc. Other creatures do, too, but don't you find that humans are always the ones dripping in evil? Perhaps it's because we are humans so we find it more repulsive.
The "Hellsfire" isn't as it sounds. In fact, it is the protagonist's name! Perhaps his unusual name is the catalyst to cause others to shun him, ostracize him, and to be beaten and teased by his peers. But because his mother explains to him how she'd come to name him that and the special meaning behind the name, Hellsfire doesn't begrudge his name, although at times he does wonder whether or not his world would be different if he had a "normal" name. This made him relatable, such a normal thing to wonder as you're going through life's crud.
Hellsfire discovers his "specialness", his innate ability when he runs into a girl and saves her from a bunch of thugs. His discovery leads him onto an adventure he could never have imagined. This strong-willed, determined young man makes the dangerous journey to the top of a frozen mountain, where no one dare venture, to learn of his identity and why he's in possession of such awesome power; he's a wizard. There he learns many things about his power and his magic.
The young woman he had saved turns out to be the princess of the neighboring kingdom, which is in trouble. This trouble will affect all of humanity, not just in their kingdom but in all neighboring kingdoms. Hellsfire feels compelled to act, to save this kingdom and therefore save all who would be affected. This compulsion stems from his love for Alexandria, the princess, although he is not aware of what lies in his heart. With every ounce of his being, Hellsfire throws himself at this challenge even knowing that it may take his life.
You cannot help but to rally for Hellsfire because of his honesty, loyalty, love, and extreme altruism for others, humans and animals. As a reader, you experience vicariously Hellsfire's challenges and triumphs as he goes through them. His character is one to admire, one that others should aspire to mimic and be. As with all great novels and stories, there is a wonderful happy ever after and victory that you can share in its triumph.
I look forward to reading more in this series and once again follow Hellsfire in his adventures and the magical worlds.
P.S. The wise-cracking, arrogant, conceited, dragon friend, Cynder, was my favorite. Too bad we can't all have such a friend to call our own!