Wow wow wow…!!!! I mean I can just keep repeating this word over and over again and that’ll pretty much be my review, because I really don’t have enough words to talk about the masterpiece that this book is. But let me give it a try.
In A Spark of White Fire, the author gave us power struggles, complicated family dynamics and lots of breathtaking war sequences, cloaking them all in layers of mystery and deception. In this installment however, we get to see what happens when people are pushed to their limits due to grief and sorrow and rage. I thought the raw depiction of grief due to immense personal loss, and the utter helplessness that the characters feel in lieu of it, is written so well that I could feel every bit of it myself and even I just wanted to rage and cry. The writing is equal parts sorrow and melancholy and war strategy, with inconvenient truths being revealed at very very unexpected times completely blowing away my mind. And I just can’t with that ending…. The final 20% took me on a roller coaster of emotions and I still can’t believe it all happened. The author maintains a very steady pace throughout the book, never letting the stakes feel low, keeping us hooked for every page and I found it very difficult to put it down even for a moment. The Mahabharata parallels are still there, especially during some very key scenes, but it feels more like its own story this time around because we already have the characters (and their possible counterparts from the epic) firmly established in our mind.
Esmae is a much changed person after the devastation towards the end of the previous book and we see her struggling to deal with it all. She is consumed by rage and we feel it all right alongside her. While she may still love her brothers and long for acknowledgement from her mother, she also realizes that the family which has accepted her is where her loyalties lie. While she used to have some hope of reconciliation before, she has no such ideas now and just wants justice (or vengeance) for being betrayed. However, the gods and loved ones keep throwing curved balls in her way all the time and every step she takes is a test of her resilience. While I may not agree with some of the things that she did, especially towards the end after some more heartbreaking revelations, I totally understand where she is coming from and I can’t wait to see how much more destruction she is going to wreak in the finale.
This book gives us the POV of much beloved Titania and it’s a delight to read. She may be a sentient spaceship, but she has such a charming personality and I wanted to know more of her thoughts. What I didn’t expect was that she would be so adept at keeping secrets too and I’m very very excited to see how she would behave in a full scale war where she is equally challenged. While there was a bit of a continuation of the romance between Esmae and Max, it never overpowered the story and was left limited to the sidelines. What I enjoyed more was the banter between Radha and Sybilla and I really hope we get to see more of them together. We also see more of the gods and their backstories this time around, and one particular reveal just stupefied me and left me reeling with its implications. And I really enjoyed the way the author managed to change the trajectory of Amba’s story, almost bringing it a full circle. We don’t get to see a lot of Alexi or Bear, but despite them being on the opposite side of the war with Esmae, we can never truly hate them and I adore the author for making us care about all of them. I just don’t know know what I’ll do if anything happens to any of them, but that just feels inevitable at this point and that means I’m doomed.
If you know anything about me, you are already aware that I will always always recommend this series with all my heart because it’s brilliant and I want everyone to read it. It is criminally underrated and I will keep shouting over the rooftops until I get atleast some of my friends to pick up these books. If you have already read the first book, then I’m pretty sure you are already excited for this sequel and I promise that you won’t be disappointed. And if you don’t know anything about this series but are someone who loves genre bending books with amazing world building, elaborated war sequences in space and lots of family dynamics interspersed with political intrigue, then this series is perfect for you. What else are you waiting for ….???? Just go pick it up.
PS: Thank you to Skyhorse Publishing, Netgalley and Edelweiss for providing me with this amazing advance copy. All opinions expressed here are unbiased and solely mine.