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Book Review

Book Cover

Burning Skies


Author: David J. Williams
Ballantine Books
RRP: £9.99, US $15.00
ISBN: 978 0 553 38542 7
Available 19 May 2009

In the twenty-second century the world of the haves has divided itself into two power blocks. From a position of an uneasy détente the world has been plunged into chaos following Autumn Rains attack on the Phoenix Space Elevator. Far from being defeated, the Rain launches their most audacious attack yet. Targeting the two leaders of the East and the West they attack the Europa Platform hoping to gain access to the world’s cyberspace. Having survived their last attack Claire Haskell, the most advanced being on the planet has her own plans, only to find that she is not alone in this deadly game...

Burning Skies is the sequel to the novel Mirrored Heavens. Once again David J. Williams revisits the rich multilayer world, of cybertech and big guns, which he created for the first novel and I for one am very pleased he does. Having enjoyed the first book I was looking forward to seeing where he could take the story. What he delivers here is a Gordian knot inside even more endless convoluted knots.

Normally at this point we would talk about plot and characterisation, but with this novel it’s a fairly pointless task, as no one is what they appear to be. Allegiances are quicksand slick and the concepts of good and evil endlessly reverse themselves. That said the characters are just as well drawn as they were in the first book. So, interspersed with all the action, we get to know the characters a little better - or so you would think.

Plot, well... The first thing you have to understand is that the narrative is told from multiple perspectives. To help the reader each section is preceded with a symbol to highlight just who the action has shifted too. Gimmicky I hear you thinking, necessary is what I’m here to tell you. Some of the sections are only half a page long and few are longer than two pages. This constant shift in the action creates a real rollercoaster of a ride.

The book opens with a combined chase and battle scene which lasts for the first half of the book as the characters try to make their way through an increasingly damaged space habitat. It is a tribute to Williams, as a writer, that this one single battle lasts for a staggering two hundred and fifty-seven pages and never gets stale; mind you, it never lets up either with its relentless action.

Williams pulls off what must be one of the most frustratingly audacious endings I have read in a long time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very far from saying its bad, but having turned the world on its head the book just ends in a real ‘What the Frak’ moment. I wanted more, more pages to turn.

I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy this book as much as the first novel. As it turns out I enjoyed it more. I would give a word of warning here; the plot will make a lot more sense to you if you do read the first book. Williams has been careful to put in a sufficient amount of information that it works well as a standalone story, but it works so much better as a sequel.

The world that Williams has created is both deep and rich so if you do start with this story you had better head over to his website where there is a vast array of information for the uninitiated.

Buy it , love it and then go round his house and poke him with a stick to make him write some more. I'm not sure I can wait another year to find out how the story pans out.


Charles Packer

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