The Caves of Fire
The Caves of Fire
Fee settled on the patio to wait for Daniel. He should rest; it would be a long journey and he would have the extra weight of the boy – the weight of carrying him to Thirsk and then the even greater weight of looking into his face when he left him with Javerra. Fee's belly tightened into a hard knot at the thought.
Daniel was only an ignorant youngling with not a drop of magic in him. A mere child. He was no threat to Javerra! Humans could be tricked, duped, manipulated. But not kidnapped. This shouldn't be happening. Someone should do something! Fight back! Someone should ... Could someone? Could he?
Thwart Javerra? The thought was ludicrous. Javerra always won. Always.
Oh he longed for his old life of being a Listener and having nothing to report. Of living not to be noticed. He hadn't been happy, but at least he hadn't harmed anyone.
Daniel had saved his life. Brought him food. Called him a friend. A sort-of friend. No one had ever called him that before.
But he had no choice. Fee crammed his misgivings into a cubbyhole in his heart and locked the door.
So, in The Caves of Fire, we have two worlds. One is Earth, reasonably familiar, where lives Daniel, an ordinary boy home-schooled by his mother in the town of Stamper (population: 357) which is between Timmins and Wawa in northern Ontario (in case you didn't know). He's just had his twelfth birthday, a rather disappointing one in the way of gifts because his mother's friend, who could usually be counted on for a couple of really good books, this year had given him a very heavy dictionary. Dullsville! Or so he thought initially. The other world is Thirsk, ruled by the monster Javerra who is served by the Rix, also monsters, all of whom feed on the scent of fear and despair. The other inhabitants of Thirsk are the Teebs, gentle and almost human at least in appearance; their food is the sweet smoke from burned sacrifices. Both bleed fire when cut. Thirsk is the home of Fee, a "Listener" who "reports back" what he hears. A spy in other words, Fee is happiest when he has nothing to report and can remain below everyone's radar, particularly Javerra's. Transition between the two worlds is apparently possible, and for some reason tied in with a prediction of his downfall, Jawerra sends Fee to Earth, a place "known" to be inhabited by beings who are vicious and hateful and dangerous (this knowledge is initially reinforced by Fee's first encounter with anything living being with a polar bear in the act of catching and eating a seal), with orders to bring Daniel back with him. Daniel has to come willingly. Not an easy task for poor Fee!
One wonders why tyrants like Javerra look for prophecies about their future since they are almost always bad and usually enigmatically bad. In Javerra's case, his downfall will come "When soil and flame mingle and blend" and "When Terra's crust the twain do tread". How does Daniel fit into this prediction? He doesn't know; his friend Evie doesn't know (though she is adept at internet research and finds out a lot about Thirsk there), but somehow they are going to have to sort it all out since Javarra's method of getting Daniel to come "willingly" is to kidnap his mother.
The Caves of Fire is fantasy, but fantasy of a rather different sort. Almost everyone is a hybrid of some sort – there are human-Teebs, for example – but there are a few normal, or fairly normal, people as well, and the whole story could be regarded as a study of inter-racial conflicts and resolution, as well as one of clever thinking, moral reasoning, and unselfish actions. It is also a page-flipper that will keep readers intrigued up to the last page. And on that page, we have the [good] dog/bird monster with the magic feathers (and even more magic slobber) tell Daniel, "Au revoir" -- until we meet again -- rather than "Good-bye" -- and thanks for all the memories. I smell a sequel on the horizon. At the risk of mixing my sensory metaphors, it sounds good to me!
Mary Thomas is an almost retired librarian who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Oxford, England, and Bracebridge, Ontario, but, fond though she is of fantasy, doesn't think being transported from one place to another under the wing of even the best of monsters would be preferable to Air Canada.