Verdict: RELICS OF THE DIVINE: THE CELESTIAL FLAME is a worthwhile story for readers who like fantasy with a classic “good vs. evil” theme.
A member of a race of winged humans, Harius is a Hamystic of the Zehnarch Order. Despite his religious vocation, he is plagued by doubt after the harrowing death of his mother in a devastating war. Now, a new war is looming on the horizon with the totalitarian ruler of the Sovereign Crown seeking to establish his cruel regime over the entire world. As the threat of war grows, Harius is entrusted with a mystical key and a magical sword. With the aid of these sacred artifacts, Harius must overcome his doubt and learn to wield the Celestial Flame in order to bring humanity back to the Divine and restore peace to all lands.
Sword-and-sorcery novels have always relied on well-worn tropes, and RELICS OF THE DIVINE: THE CELESTIAL FLAME is no exception. Nonetheless, author Stephen R. Watts delivers a satisfying fantasy adventure. The prose style is crisp and sophisticated, and the chapters are broken down into easily digestible chunks for a story that can be read in an afternoon. Watts has a particular flair for writing action scene, managing to zoom in on all the details without sacrificing the overall pace of the action. A few typos pop up here and there, but the writing remains clean and fluid throughout.
The world in which RELICS OF THE DIVINE takes place is nicely fleshed out and nuanced, with historical and spiritual details rendered in an artful fashion. Having a race of winged people is another creative touch, and Watts’ description of flight scenes evokes a genuine sense of being airborne. The narrative covers a range of themes, among them faith vs. reason, freedom vs. tyranny, and belief vs. doubt. While the delivery of its message feels a bit heavy-handed at times, the story is honorably steadfast in its convictions.
Lead character Harius starts out as a bit of a whiner, but his “dark-night-of-the-soul” leads him to a respectable maturity. A well-rounded supporting cast which includes despicable villains and traitors, trusty allies, and a princess who is no damsel-in-distress by any means. Every character shapes the story in his or her own unique way, and there are some inventive twists and turns to freshen things up when the storytelling starts to drag.
Overall, RELICS OF THE DIVINE succeeds thanks to its positive attitude. A sequel to tie up just one or two loose ends would be most welcome.
~Heather McNamara for IndieReader