Going into this, I thought this was going to be similar to National Treasure because of the references to the American Revolution and a hunt for a city of gold, but I was way off. Sure, that’s part of it but it’s more motivation for some of the characters more than the central theme. What we do get in Firefax, written by Amelia Vergara, is more a fusion of historical fiction, murder and intrigue, family drama, piracy and adventure.
Starting around the early 1780s, we meet the Firefax clan. A family of highly trained and sought after killers for hir. If your target is a king, heads of state, or other high-profile people, you hire a Firefax to do the job. It’s been their family business for generations, and they are the best at what they do.
Set during the American Revolution, the British gathering their forces, and the untold wealth of a legendary city of gold may hand victory to whichever side possesses it. Murdoch Firefax, the eldest of the Firefax clan, just happens to know where it is. But he’s surly to say the least, and antagonistic to the rest of the family.
Cara Firefax, the youngest of the siblings, is a tormented soul. Very much like Murdoch in some ways, but others almost a polar opposite. Possibly the deadliest Firefax of them all, but an unknown as her family keep shielding her from getting an actual kill.
The death of the patriarch has them gathered at the family compound in Vermont, and their rivals see this as an opportune time to make their move. The action then shifts to the mysterious island of Lubrerum; a uniquely weird place, and home to the city of gold. It’s a volcanic island somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean and doesn’t appear on any map.
Aside from untold riches, it’s the home of insular and intensely religious nutbags, who see the Firefax’s as God-like figures. With some really messed up ideas about morality and punishment, everything gets much more twisted as secrets are revealed.
The world written by Vergara is richly described without suffering from being overly wordy. I found myself getting quite lost in the visuals inside my mind as I listened to this. I love it when an author can hit that groove and make you feel like you’re right there, and I got this a lot.
The narration by Vas Eli suited the book. Easy to listen to and delivering unique voices to the various characters. Of all the voices, I think his Murdoch was my favourite. A sort of gruff, low-spoken, no-nonsense sort of voice.
I noted a few minor issues with the production. Nothing more than the occasional background clicks or taps; just minor things. Some of the narrator’s retakes were more obvious than others where the tone didn’t match quite as well, but overall, the production quality was acceptable.
Would I give it another listen? Absolutely. Looking back over my notes I made while listening, I’d written down that this was “a hell of a strong debut novel, well written, engaging” and I stand by that. Give this a listen and prepare to get transported back in time.
Want more Firefax? Be sure to check out my interview with the author of Firefax, Amelia Vergara!