Books based on roleplaying games (and, well, games in general) have a reputation of being crap. This is, sadly, due to most of them actually being crap, so the reputation is well-deserved. However, every now and then you run into a book which ignores that reputation and actually manages to be pretty damn good.
The Carnelian Flame is not one of those. If you want good rpg-related books, read the Delta Green novels and short stories, Greg Stolze’s Godwalker, Robin D. Laws’ Pierced Heart, etc. Avoid this book like the plague. Avoid it even if you’ve sortof liked the other Exalted novels, this is easily the worst of them I’ve read.
The problem isn’t the plot, as such; while not being amazingly innovative, it’s quite ok. There’s an up-and-coming Deathknight with a plan to Kill Lots of People (tm), a newly-exalted bandit, Arianna in the role of the required signature character wandering mage… nothing spectacular, but you can build a decent Exalted book from that. The problem is the writing. It’s klunky, and at times feels like it’s aimed at 10yr olds. The characters apparently have a competition regarding who can say the most spectacularly corny lines, with everybody doing their best to out-corny eat other. The plot develoment is painfully connect-the-dots. The ending reveals no surprises whatsoever.
Waste of time.
Oh, there were a few fun points. I liked the version of Shoat of the Mire presented here, the personality fits pretty well with the…. upbriging that the Shoats receive. I would have preferred a bit more “crazy” in there, but… it was ok. Likewise, the demon tree thingy was a fun idea. Not worth the book, though.