SFINCS Review: The Firetongue Heir by Elyse Thomson

Today’s review is about THE FIRETONGUE HEIR by Elyse Thomson. It’s a prequel novella to the eastern Roman Empire-inspired Mages of Oblivion series. With elemental magic, political scheming, and forbidden love, there’s something here for everyone.

SFINCS logoThis review is brought to you by my participation in the Speculative Fiction Indie Novella Championship (SFINCS). SFINCS, pronounced “sphinx”, is a yearly competition to recognize, honor, and celebrate the talent and creativity present in the indie community. It’s a sister competition to both SPFBO and SPSFC, and it highlights greatness in the novella format in all areas of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, horror, etc.). I am part of Team Behind the Musings. You can find out more about us here.

Author: Elyse Thomson
Series: Mages of Oblivion
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Two Laurels Press
Publish Date: August 27, 2023
Print Length: 125
Purchase: Amazon

Official Synopsis

Love leads to ruin.

As the cunning mage Nadia plots to reshape a continent plagued by war, the fate of a noblewoman—marriage and a life of stultifying insignificance—is only one of many hurdles to overcome. Forced to let her brother take credit for all her brilliant plans, she’s resigned to scheme from the shadows while her family decides her future. Her life seems set in stone, until she meets a charming, irritating rogue and the bane of her existence—Darius.

Prince Darius Firetongue loves nothing more than nettling the sharp-tongued, quick-witted Nadia, and being the disappointing youngest son of a tyrant leaves him plenty of time to woo her away from a fiancé she doesn’t want. But when the king decides to bring him to heel by threatening Nadia’s life, he knows he must act.

Compelled to flee, with only each other to rely on, passions ignite. Yet as dangerous secrets are revealed, they must decide: side with family, or choose a reckless, forbidden love and the dark promise of bloodshed to come.

A lush, romantic fantasy novella set in a world inspired by ancient history, The Firetongue Heir is is the prequel novella to the Mages of Oblivion series.

My Review

THE FIRETONGUE HEIR is the prequel novella to the Mages of Oblivion series. Set in a world inspired by the eastern Roman Empire, this story follows two main characters, Prince Darius and Nadia. Darius wants nothing to do with his toxic king of a father and spends any free time away from his family as a charming rogue. Nadia, who brilliantly schemes political tactics, must let her brother take all the credit for them in their misogynistic world while readying for marriage. When the king discovers Darius’s affinity for Nadia and threatens her life, they must flee together, which sets up a chain of decisions and the allure of forbidden love.

Though set in an already-established world, I did not feel lost while reading about Nadia and Darius. There is a nice glossary at the start that explains the royal and military titles and slang terms, which helps with the story context. Moreover, there is a map for reference whenever various lands are mentioned. Thankfully, though, a full understanding about these lands isn’t necessary to enjoy the novella.

Although this novella is on the shorter side, I still felt like I got to know the characters. The author also deftly includes pertinent, framework world-building elements without bogging down the story with too much detail. Darius is an Elemental, or someone with an elemental magical gift. Nadia is not an Elemental, though she does have her own form of magic. Even if Nadia was not betrothed, Darius’s elitist father would never allow him to cavort with a non-Elemental. The king believes elemental magic should remain within elemental bloodlines. This sets up the forbidden love trope that is as slow burn as it can be in a novella.

Their escape together sets up a scenario that allows them to develop more of a working relationship. This fuels their respect for each other. Most of this happens behind the scenes, though I do wish more of it had been on page. However, for the length of the story, overall it did not feel rushed, which is a skill in and of itself when sticking to a shorter format.

THE FIRETONGUE HEIR is an absorbing introduction to the Mages of Oblivion series. It’s perfect for fantasy romance readers who appreciate some political scheming and war maneuvering with their forbidden love.

Rating: withheld
Content warnings: domestic violence/abuse, child abuse (historic), death, blood and gore, maiming, swearing, sexism, classism, animal death, consensual on-page sex
Reading format: Kindle e-book

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