Fire Thief Reborn is the fourth installment in Seth Mullins’ riveting Edge of the Known series. In previous installments, we’ve seen the band Edge of the Known struggle in obscurity and then shoot to stardom, told through the eyes of its artistic visionary, Brandon Chane. Brandon’s had his struggle in relationships, and with the artistic process, through it all. Success isn’t always an answer.
In Book 4, it’s seven years after the band’s rise to stardom. Brandon’s found the peace of an artist who’s said everything he needed to say, and reached a willing audience. He’s content, for perhaps the first time in his life. And yet, if the reader knows anything about Brandon from previous books, it’s that he’s sensitive and brooding, and there are issues boiling beneath the surface that can overtake him at any moment.
Brandon still feels the pull of creativity, but he knows the destructive force that rock and roll can be, and he’s reluctant to pull his family into that world, as well as himself. He hasn’t “gone soft” so much as he has new responsibilities that he needs to live up to. He’s not content with standing pat, nor would you really want him to be. What gets Brandon moving again is his friend and mentor, Saul Mason, who now becomes the muse for his musical resurrection.
What makes the Edge series so fascinating is that it covers the gamut of emotions that come with artistic creation and success: from starving artist to overfed. Brandon’s struggle seems understandable and not vain – as in: you’ve gotten everything you’ve wanted and you’re still unhappy? Where he could come off as ceaselessly dissatisfied, he instead appears thoughtful. It’s a balance that Mullins pulls off better here than in previous installments.
There’s a greater universality in this book than other books in the series. Anyone who’s had a child and felt the pull of obligation versus the pull of ambition can sympathize with Brandon’s plight. He’s a more mature protagonist at this point, and so more relatable to more people. He’s still a visionary, but he’s also got one foot in a world that is recognizable to most of us.
His voice is more sympathetic as well. In previous books, Brandon could be philosophical to a fault. It’s one of his (and the book’s) selling points as well, as he feels things so deeply and ponders over every moment, in a way that is inspiring and illuminating. At times, however, he veers into being overly solipsistic. Here, he’s older and wiser, and curbs some of his youthful pretentiousness to be more objective, and less buried by his thoughts.
All this makes the book the strongest in the series so far, yet it’s made stronger by reading about Brandon’s path from the beginning. Certainly, you could start from this book as the story of a rock star who’s settled down, but what makes it particularly rewarding is to track the path from the beginning – not just Brandon’s outlook, but Mullins’ strength as a writer. The entire series is an impressive achievement, and more than worth a reader’s investment.
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