Lightning & Ember

The Goddess Maker

Fiction - Fantasy - General
496 Pages
Reviewed on 01/09/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Lightning & Ember is a work of fiction in the fantasy, action, and adventure subgenres, and forms the opening novel to The Goddess Maker series. It is suitable for older teen and adult readers. Penned by author E.B. Repetto, this entrancing narrative unfolds in a world of nobility, prejudice, and unexpected revelations. Akina de Kitamura, marked by her lineage and past, navigates a society that scorns her despite her prestigious education. The narrative takes an unexpected turn during a significant exposition, revealing shocking truths about the characters' history. As Akina, her sister Miki, and her friend Cassius grapple with these revelations, the story becomes a riveting blend of fantasy, intrigue, and the resilience of the human spirit.

Author E.B. Repetto has crafted a truly immersive reading experience, plunging readers into a richly crafted world with complex characters that grip you from the start and never let go. I enjoyed the well-planned balance of growing political intrigue, exciting personal relationships, and the characters' internal emotional struggles that come to the fore in the many challenges of the plot. The themes of acceptance, identity, and the impact of societal expectations resonate throughout the narrative. These are explored with naturalistic dialogue that makes them a key part of the emotional arc of the story but without ever over-explaining them or slowing down the plot. I resonated with the self-discovery of it all, and the close narrative made it easy to explore this well-imagined, atmospheric world through Akina’s keen eyes. Overall, I would certainly recommend Lightning & Ember as a must-read for fantasy fans seeking an exciting new series that promises to be thoroughly compelling.

Stephanie Chapman

E.B. Repetto’s Lightning and Ember features Akina, Miki, and Cassius as they navigate the final week of life in the academy. Akina and Miki are outcasts because of their mixed heritage of Voldarian and Solterrean blood. Commander Kitamura is Akina and Miki’s uncle; it is well known that the girls are allowed in the academy based on the king’s favor for their uncle. Akina attacks another student for insulting her sister but claims she was in the wrong when confronted by Commander Kitamura. Cassius follows her into the infirmary and reveals his feelings to Akina. However, he knows that his status as a duke may be under scrutiny for associating with her. When the final contest day arrives, Akina shares her feelings about him. However, a dark secret could threaten the lives of the Kitamura family.

E.B. Repetto laid the foundation well for the series involving the conflict between Voldarians and Solterreans. Reputation matters to the nobles, and the twins are opposites gaining respect. Miki chooses to use internal conquest, while Akina seeks external conflict. Miki always tries to conform to Voldarian customs and wants to earn the position of Lieutenant Colonel from her uncle. Akina strives to use her combat skills to excel above everyone else. However, she keeps a secret about what she wants to do after graduation. The vivid details make it easy to envision every moment as the suspense builds intensity. The views of Miki, Akina, Cassius, and Commander Kitamura allow the reader to connect with each character effortlessly. The internal conflict each of them struggles with makes their actions understandable. The supporting characters’ interaction adds conflict to the story, allowing the combat scenes to occur, so there is never a dull moment. Fans of military fantasy stories will enjoy Lightning and Ember.

Cecelia Hopkins

Lightening and Ember: The Goddess Maker by E.B. Repetto follows Akina and Miki through the turbulent final weeks of a military academy. The Volandrians constantly harass the twins because they are illegitimate and half-Solterrean. Marquis Genji Yu de Kitamura is an awesome commander and the girls’ uncle, but even he cannot force the nobles to accept them. Their childhood friend Cassius wants to help, except he struggles with post-traumatic stress. The arrival of his cousin Prince Rahim forces dangerous currents to the surface. Exams give way to war games that will determine the graduates' ranking. However, the graduation ball may prove the most dangerous event of all!

Lightening and Ember by E.B. Repetto is packed with fierce action from the first page. Sparring competitions quickly developed into student brawls which school tradition forbade even the teachers breaking up. This was a subversion of normal schoolyard standards that suited the martial Volandrain culture. I liked the way the author made it clear that training to be a soldier hurts! Then I was relieved to learn they had healers who could repair almost anything. I applauded the punishment Akina meted out to male trainees who used the practice assignments as opportunities to grope the young female students. The narrative truly dramatized and brought home the need for respect for women. It was satisfying to see family secrets revealed, yet I remained bamboozled by unexplained elements which I expect will lead into the next volume of the series. I recommend Lightening and Ember: The Goddess Maker by E.B. Repetto to the reader who is looking for an exciting fantasy that incorporates advanced combat scenes.