This is kind of Young-Adult Fantasy Romance, where our two narrators are actually elves. Both of them are said to have great potential to either enhance or destroy their world, yet both have no control and no aptitude. They seem less than average and, among their own kind, almost lesser. But as one might imagine, this book delves into how this isn't exactly the case.
This book reminded me of how I feel when I read Garth Nix. The fantasy element is there, but it's how the world created by the author- no matter how wonderful and interesting- is something I can't grasp. I tend to feel that I'm thrown into something that I don't understand. Then, when I do learn something, I end up feeling more confused but just as out of place because I feel that I don't understand their world. It's not easy to explain, since it's just a feeling for the book, but I sit there and find myself reading merely hoping to understand something- anything- before its too late. For someone who likes if not needs are believable interesting world, this is something that (in my opinion) the book didn't seem to have. On the positive side, what I did see and understand was really marvellous. The trees and the lake were pristine in my mind's eye and the atmosphere was well done.
After the first section of the book (probably the first third) things started to make more sense. By this point I doubt I was completely engrossed or involved, but I was more interest by now. Seeing the attempts to train our pair- Krishani (the boy) and Kaliel (the girl)- and the results gave me a better idea of the characters than the pages I had read already. This was probably when I really saw the best parts of the book- especially Krishani's fight. I like the feeling of "I told you so" in that Krishani had warned his mentor what could happen. I think after good parts like these, by feelings towards the book improved and I enjoyed it more.
I kind of liked the romance too. In this world, Elves aren't taken with love as other creatures are. They dedicate themselves to the land and the universe, and any matrimony is at the whims of the land. So their love isn't forbidden, but it's unusual for it to happen. Most people just seem a bit sceptical, and argue that their duty is more important. I like this idea of their love- it isn't forbidden (because I think forbidden love is often unbelievable) but its treated with disbelieving delicacy. Krishani accepts that he is in love before Kaliel and is happy to tell her, but she- despite day dreams about him, and despite an obvious attraction to him- keeps turning him away. His undying yet unrequited love didn't bother me, but I feel it went on to long. As a reader, I can tell when something is going to happen and I get annoyed when it is constantly delayed. Another point is that at some times this love also seems a bit of obsessive.
The Flames were a nice touch. They, I think, represent a kind of open wilfulness and confidence and, for Kaliel, represent the opposite of what she thinks she should be. She wants to be loyal and dutiful, not carefree spirit of mirth. She also doesn't want to be special, but the Flames ("The jewels of the universe") are anything but that. I was perhaps bothered by the lack of display of this Flame power, since I like a bit of awe-inspiring demonstrations of potency, but I can't complain on this front.
One thing I really liked was the very last section of the book. The ending itself was much easier to read and it flowed smoothly and interestingly. There was also the first part of book two at the end and it's made me determined to read book two, merely because I want to know what's going to happen.
There are unanswered questions in this book, which bothered me. The fact that so much of this just didn't click for me is quite a personal thing, but I can see where the good parts of this book where and how I need to avoid focusing on the start which I didn't like, and the end which I did.