5 captivating reasons to pick up The Memory of Fire, Callie Bates’ sequel to The Waking Land


During Callie Bates debut novel, The Waking Land, she introduces a nation stripped of magic and on the verge of revolution. Her sequel, The Memory of Fire, explores just how that revolution will change the course of her fictional world.

In The Waking Land, Callie Bates throws readers into the political struggles between Caeris and Eren. Two small nations in her vast magical realm, they’ve been in a state of political unrest since the Duke of Caeris attempted to dethrone Eren’s king.

As punishment, the king of Eren keeps the Duke’s daughter, Elanna, as his ward and hostage in Eren. But when the king is murdered, Elanna is forced to flee the palace and reconcile with her family and her people. She finds herself at the head of a revolution she never wanted, using powers she barely understands to protect her people’s freedoms.

The Memory of Fire expands the world that Bates crafts in her first novel, taking readers to larger continents and hashing out social issues on a much larger scale. The book follows Jahan Korakides, Elanna’s love interest from The Waking Land. A sorcerer who has spent most of his life playing the role of a lord in Paladis, Jahan returns to his home to sue for peace between Elanna’s nation and his own.

Unfortunately, Paladis harbors a deep-seated hatred of the supernatural. Following Elanna’s display of Earth magic in the previous installment, the king has no interest in creating a peace treaty with her. To make matters worse, Jahan is suspected of sorcery as well — despite working his entire life to keep it secret.

Cast out by his court and pursued by Witch Hunters, Jahan takes refuge with other sorcerers. He discovers an entire group of revolutionaries, all of whom are prepared to wage war against a kingdom that has forced them to hide their true identities in fear of imprisonment and death.

The Waking Land is an impressive first novel, but Bates truly ups the ante in her second book. Here are just a few reasons to pick up The Memory of Fire.

1. It delves deeper into the magic system.

While The Waking Land is largely about the return of magic to Eren and Caeris, this magic is only explored through the eyes of Elanna Valtai. We see a bit of Jahan’s power as well, but for the most part, sorcery is merely in the backdrop. The main plot centers on the political uprising, using magic as a tool to achieve that end.

During The Memory of Fire, Bates unravels the magic system she touches on in The Waking Land. Readers gain a better understanding of how these powers function in this world, and they get to see just how many sorcerers still exist there.

2. It tackles political revolution on a larger scale.

Too many stories of revolution end with the heroes winning and everything fading to black. If you’re into the politics of these tales, you likely want to see what happens after the “good guys” win. There are always more obstacles to overcome.

The Memory of Fire serves this very purpose. It continues the story of Caeris and Eren, showing that Elanna’s triumph over the Ereni monarch was merely the first step to freedom. Bates portrays the difficulty in maintaining the unity Elanna and Jahan worked for.

And even more notably, Bates explores the reactions of other nations to Caeris’ revolution. One monarchy falling bodes ill for them all, and the corrupt leaders of other nations will do anything to quash the growing dissent. Their push back against Sophy’s election is natural and realistic, and Bates does a fantastic job portraying it.

3. It expands the storyline of the Witch Hunters.

A looming but less significant threat throughout The Waking Land is that of the Witch Hunters. Elanna frequently stresses over being discovered by these cruel men, hellbent on ridding the world of the “abomination” of magic. Sadly, only a few of them appear in the first book and they aren’t as menacing as described.

The Witch Hunters become a main threat in The Memory of Fire, however, adding an interesting layer of fanaticism to the story. Paladis wants to wipe magic off the map to secure its power, but the Witch Hunters have more interesting motives. They genuinely believe sorcery to be an offense against the gods, and they go to great lengths to extinguish it.

4. It explores Jahan’s past.

Given his vast knowledge of sorcery and impressive reputation, Jahan Korakides is easily the most interesting character in The Waking Land (sorry, Elanna). And throughout the first book, Jahan often alludes to a mysterious and tragic past without giving readers many details.

As much as The Memory of Fire is Jahan’s story, it dives deeply into the memories mentioned in The Waking Land. We meet his brothers, both of whom are powerful sorcerers, and we learn the gruesome details of their family’s history.

Readers also witness Jahan’s confrontation and acceptance of his past, allowing him to finally embrace the powers he has treated as a hindrance. His personal journey is similar to Elanna’s. His is just full of darkness and magic, making it even more fun to read.

5. It’s full of action and suspense.

While The Waking Land has plenty of action in it, it has just as many pages spent traveling or scheming. And while those things are necessary components of any political fantasy, they also slow the pacing of the story.

The pacing in The Memory of Fire is far more conducive to a binge-read. As Jahan jumps from disaster to disaster, you’ll find yourself flipping the pages, eager to see what could possibly go wrong next. It’s easy to inhale this book in just a few sittings.

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Luckily, you can already do so. The Memory of Fire hit shelves on Tuesday, June 5. If you’re looking for an intense, political fantasy, it’s a book you’ll want to pick up.