Action-packed, intellectually challenging dark fantasy
C. Prata's Dream of Fire makes for an intellectually challenging but very
rewarding work of dark fantasy. I had a little trouble developing a real
connection with the novel early on because of numerous references to
completely alien terms and expressions; fortunately, Prata provides a
glossary at the end of the book that defines such important and much-used
terms as stalenzka, chiampugula, and landesknecta. He also provides
several appendices summarizing military tactics and the histories of the
cultures featured in the story. It is an extraordinary effort on the part
of the author to define this world of his imagination in extremely
realistic terms. At times, I felt as if I must have missed history class
the day we covered these cultures, as Prata certainly writes about them as
if they were as real as the ancient historical peoples of earth.
The centerpiece of the story is Kerebos Ikar, leader of the Black Legion
and unquestionably the most feared man on the world of Pangaea. Untold
men, women, and children have been brutalized and slain by this man over
the years, but Kerebos is not the simple monster of a man he appears to
be. Each night finds him screaming in the throes of awful nightmares, and
each day finds him pursuing the destruction of the entire world - starting
with himself, for Kerebos is haunted by the fact that he murdered his own
Kerebos' opposite in virtually every way is Antiphon al-Caliph, a timid
priest of the Order of the White Flame who is sent to bring the fierce
warrior, seemingly hell's own minion, back to the holy city of Kwan Aharon.
Sacred prophecy points to Kerebos as the man who will bring salvation and
deliver the faithful over to the kingdom while the world sinks into
apocalyptic oblivion. The relationship that develops between Antiphon and
Kerebos is complex and fascinating. Kerebos thinks his sin is too great to
be forgiven by God or man, and the philosophical depths to which he
plunges in self-contemplation are both moving and very instructive to the
While the depth and meaning of this novel take precedence over all else,
there is plenty of heart-stopping, bloody action to go around as Kerebos
the torturer and human monster transforms into God's fiery final prophet.
Prata possesses impressive understanding of ancient military tactics, and
this makes the engagements and armed clashes he describes verily ring with
the clash of swords; not only can you envision the carnage of the
battlefield, you can almost smell the blood and entrails that mark the
Dream of Fire thus succeeds admirably on two levels. The vividly-described
action sequences will appeal to those who yearn for excitement and
wonderfully realistic battle scenes, while the deeper lessons of Kerebos'
unique story will leave most readers pondering the philosophical and
allegorical meaning of it all long after turning the last page. Few novels
offer such a unique and powerful study of the nature of evil and the
capacity for good in even the worst of men.
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Instant Gratification *****
often, one picks up a book that tends to crowd the mind. Mr. Prata's Dream
of Fire is NOT one of these books. Intense, intelligent, graphic, and
cunning are just a few words I have used when talking about Dream. I too
found it extremely difficult to put down. Though not an easy read for
some, it excites the mind. I found the imagery dark and mysterious.
kudos to Mr. Prata's use of Military strategy! It is obvious he spent many
years enlightening himself on battlefield tactics. If your looking for a
read to make you laugh, read Kant. If you want something to just kick back
and admire, please read Dream of Fire. You will not be disappointed.
Powerful epic fanstasy
Pangaea, following the accidental death of his father at his hands,
Kerebos Ikar joins a horde of killers. Over time, he works his way up the
ladder until Kerebos becomes leader of the infamous Black Legion. Kerebos
directs his brood by example, killing and plundering with no one safe from
his warriors and no opposing army willing to fight this murderous
unbeatable force. Perhaps Kerebos' only weakness is his recurring
nightmare of dying in fire, but that only provides him with further
impetus to destroy anyone in his path.
In Kwan Aharon, the Order of the White Flame recognizes Kerebos as the
last great prophet. They send out a priest Antiphon al-Caliph to convert
the killing machine onto the side of good. However, Antiphon has doubts
regardless of the prophecy as he expects to not only fail but to die at
the hands of the one he must convert.
Though much of the support cast seems stereotyped, DREAM OF FIRE is a
powerful epic fantasy that sweeps the reader along with its exciting story
line and two fabulous lead characters. Redeeming Kerebos seems almost like
converting Hitler, yet the audience will see that he possesses some
positive traits, but like the priest doubt he is an ANGEL IN IRON. The
doubting Antiphon is sort of like Moses feeling he is too inadequate to do
the task which in this case is converting a murdering maniac into the
prophet. Strangely, the battle scenes that are vividly described and
action-packed pale next to the hook that keeps the audience wanting to
finish this work in one sitting. Will Kerebos redeem himself as the
prophet or kill Antiphon?