These Feathered Flames was a richly imagined, character intensive novel that fell somewhat short of my expectations. If there existed a spectrum for books where on the right was “plot-driven” and on the left was “character-driven”, this book would lean VERY heavily to the left, and I’m not sure if that’s quite my personal preference.
The novel follows a pair of twins, Izaveta and Asya, the former destined to be Queen and the latter destined to carry the power of the the legendary Firebird, whose duty it is to exact prices for the use of magic and keep balance in the land. I have to hand it to Overy–these two characters were incredibly well-established. I truly sympathized with their individual plights–Izaveta’s to maintain a hold at court while trying not to fall into the twisted habits of her mother, and Asya’s to fix the cognitive dissonance caused by the conflicting pain and balance her role brought to the world. However, the novel frequently felt almost TOO introspective. We spent so much time in Izaveta and Asya’s heads that I felt like it came at the expense of other crucial story aspects–namely world-building and the fleshing out of more minor characters. I was fascinated by the magic system and the lore surroundings the Saints, but none of that was explored to the extent that I was hoping. Furthermore, the minor characters felt fairly flat compared to the protagonists. Example A: I ADORED the f/f relationship in the novel, but I felt as though that the few details we received about the non-protagonist’s life were hurried and unsubstantiated.
Overall a beautiful portrait of two characters set in a world with a fascinating background that wasn’t explored to the extent that it could have been.