When she finds and reanimates an automaton, she is able to finally get that piece of information, but in doing so, launches a hunt for her and the automaton that will drive them onto a pirate ship. The automaton, named Alix, she has found and awoken is more than a machine, with feelings, emotions, and desires of his own. As they charge forward on her mission to find her brother, they begin to learn more about the horrible practices of the magistrate and the Scriptorium and the battle that is coming.
What I loved: There are some really interesting themes in the book about motivations and the decisions to which they lead as well as in terms of what makes someone human. This is a book that would be interesting to discuss, as they certainly grow in nuance throughout the book. The story is told from both Karis and Alix's perspectives, which delve the reader into the complexities of humanity and the shadowy line that separates man from artificial intelligence. There were some really interesting characters with minor roles, including the pirates and those they find later in the book, and I found the general world and characters to be really compelling.
What left me wanting more: The book moves fairly quickly, and I felt that the reader gets interesting tidbits about this world, its countries, and the complexities of their relationships and ideologies, but I would definitely have loved to have more. Similarly, there were some characters that I would have loved deeper insight into. This book definitely could have been drawn out to give more depth into a duology or trilogy, but, on the flip side, it is nice to have a stand-alone fantasy read sometimes. I did want a bit more from the shallow information we are able to obtain about this world and people who live in it, due to the fast pace, and I was definitely engaged enough to want so much more.
Final verdict: With themes of humanity and morality, THIS GOLDEN FLAME is an intriguing stand-alone YA fantasy. Would recommend for fans of DEFY THE STARS, FABLE, and THE LAST VOYAGE OF POE BLYTHE.