Friday, October 9, 2009

Crown of Fire

Title: Crown of Fire

Series: Firebird Trilogy #3
(See the reviews for book 1 and book 2)

Author: Kathy Tyers

Genre: Adult Sci-fi

Excerpt from “To Strike Back,” Chapter 1 of Crown of Fire:

“And then this is the Codex simulation,” said Occupation Governor Danton. “The Electorate sent it down yesterday, demanding that we act.”

Firebird pushed long auburn hair back from her face as she leaned forward. Governor Danton’s wood-paneled office had two broad, darkened windows and an antique desk, designed to set Netaia’s Federate conquerors on equal footing with a snooty nobility. She sat in a comfortable brownbuck chair across from the governor.

Above the media block on his desk appeared an image she would’ve known from any approach vector: Citangelo, the heart of royal Netaia and its two buffer systems. Between the broad sideways Y formed by the Etlason and Tiggaree Rivers, Sander Hill wore a broad green ring of noble estates, while south of the Y, the central city thrust up ancient towers and shining new constructs. The Hall of Charity stood like a gold-banded cube at the junction of two long green swathes.

Out of midair, a fiery projectile plummeted.

Danton had just shown them an actual recording of the Sunton disaster on Thyrica. Firebird could hardly bear to watch this simulation, but she didn’t blink as the projectile—representing a trio of piloted fighters diving from orbit—plunged into the city’s southeast quarter near the new Federate military base. It sank through buildings and soil into bedrock. Around it, the city heaved like water into which a stone had been thrown. As the crater blasted two klicks deep, buildings, greenery, and people—everything flammable—coalesced in fire…

Firebird returns home to world threatened by unscrupulous telepaths and civil war.

The Craft: Many series start well. But only a few finish well too.

Firebird is one of the few.

Crown of Fire brings the Firebird Trilogy to a stunning conclusion that is thrilling, gut-wrenching, unpredictable, and wholly satisfying. Yes, as a reader you hate to part ways with characters beloved. But such an end as this evokes such a sense of completeness that you leave them feeling all is right with the world. All the loose ends are tied up and yet enough openness remains that you can imagine the characters living one.

What more can you ask for than that?

The Content: All of the Firebird novels carry deep waters of content, but I think Crown of Fire, with its themes of pride, sacrifice, atonement, and surrender, is by far the most potent. Yet for all the depth and potency, the content never overwhelms or interrupts the flow. Rather it intricately intertwines with the story, propelling the plot forward and compelling the characters’ decisions.

Other content issues: Some violence, with only minimal amounts shown in any detail. Also a couple sexual scenes (again, protags are married), but the suggestion is done so well, I skimmed right over it in ignorance when I first read the trilogy several years ago.

Summary: Crown of Fire tops off the Firebird Trilogy with a heart-pounding but satisfying end, landing this trilogy at my #1 spot for all sci-fi and fantasy series I’ve read. A must-read for any Christian reader of the speculative genre.

Rating: Craft—5, Content—5, Overall—4.9 out of 5 stars

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