Wednesday 27 July 2011

Catalyst: The Passage of Hellsfire - Marc Johnson

Title: Catalyst: The Passage of Hellsfire
Author: Marc Johnson
Genre: Fantasy
Published: 2011
Formats: Ebook

Available at:
Amazon UK

This book is a standard epic fantasy novel with the usual plot lines, creatures and characters that normally frequent this genre. Therefore, don't expect to see anything you have not seen previously, then again I can't remember the last time I saw something new in any fantasy novel. One thing I did note though was that the book seems to be targeted at the Young Adult audience which was nice to see as I rarely see this style of fantasy novel aimed at that group of readers; in my opinion they usually get the joys of Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance instead.

The story starts with Hellsfire's birth and his life in an out of the way village. However, whilst out in the woods he manages to unleash a previously hidden magical power when he saves a girl from bandits. This show of power leads to him having to leave the village and start training to become a wizard. This training however is interrupted once has has a vision of some sort of calamity that will befall the city of Alexandria. He therefore heads out into the world where he meets elves, dwarves and other creatures in his attempt to help save the region from the machinations of an evil wizard.

Marc Johnson has basically put together a traditional zero to hero type of novel with the usual good versus evil dynamic. The story is told from the perspective of Hellsfire himself besides the first chapter. I actually quite liked this as it made the story more about this one character and the adventure he was personally on. I understand that some people don't actually like first person narratives, but in the context of this book I think it worked.

Another aspect that I did like in the story was that due to Hellsfire travelling over a fair amount of the region he lives in I got to gain some understanding of the world, history and culture that the author has created. One aspect of fantasy books I always enjoy is learning more about the interesting universe the story is taking place within. I will note though that due the large area that Hellsfire visits and the length of the novel the story seemingly jumps very quickly from place to place without any in-depth bridging chapters etc.

In regards to the character of Hellsfire himself, I have to admit that I didn't actually like him that much. I will admit that he does have a very strong sense of right and wrong alongside a determination to get things done. However, I just found his temper tantrums rather annoying and didn't really think that he actually really matured much during the time he was training to be a wizard. It was a shame really as I think at the core there may be a character there that I could actually like.

The other issue I did have with Hellsfire is his name! I was hoping there might be some real and meaningful reason behind this rather ridiculous name but there really wasn't. It isn't something major and doesn't spoil any enjoyment of the novel; I just found it a little bit silly. I did wonder if the name was just chosen because "The Passage of Hellsfire" sounds better than something like "The Passage of Bob" etc.

In all honesty, "Catalyst: The Passage of Hellsfire" was a predictable but still enjoyable epic fantasy novel. I think a young adult looking for an easy introduction to the world of epic fantasy would enjoy it a lot. I hope that if this book does achieve something, then it will be to introduce younger people into this genre without scaring them off as I suspect some of the more well known and complicated novels could do. Personally, I will probably pick up the sequel when it is released as I am interested in knowing what happens to Hellsfire and hope that some of the issues he faced in this book helps him grow up a little and get over the temper tantrums.


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