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Book Review

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The Firmament of Flame (Hardback)


Author: Drew Williams
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
366 pages
RRP: £20.00
ISBN: 978 1 471117 119 2
Publication Date: 20 August 2020

Having barely bested a single Cyn warrior, Jane Kamali and her protégé Esa are desperate to understand why the aliens have been collecting or killing gifted children. As part of the Justified mission to find a way of negating the Pulse, Kamali and two more ships throw themselves into the void looking for answers...

The Firmament of Flame (366 pages) is the third, in a series of science fiction novels from Drew Williams. The story follows directly on from A Chain Across the Dawn.

I continue to enjoy this series of books, although I do worry that the author may be pushing at the limit of their craft.

The book is structured in the same way as the last, with the POV alternating between Esa and Jane. This is fine, but the line between the two characters is being blurred and, without the chapter headings to tell you who you are following, it is possible to get confused. Now, you may feel that this is understandable as Esa is being taught by Jane and many of her attitudes and mannerism with be reflected in Esa. The danger for the author is that unless more personality elements are added in for Esa, she will just end up a Jane clone.

I make no apology if the plots description means little to the casual reader, so much of the narratives background relies on pre knowledge that, while you will get a thrilling ride out of the current book, the missing background information from the first books will make the background of this universe a little vague.

The plot follows on from Jane and Esa’s first encounter with a Cyn and their near defeat at its hands. It is difficult to kill a creature which is essentially made out of pure energy.

The most important information they gleamed was that the Cyn were hunting down children with gifts (think X-Men) and that, because of their physiology, they were able to neutralise the Pulse. The Pulse is a wave of energy which makes any technology greater than the combustion engine unworkable.

The structure of the book also follow that which was set in the first two. What you get are chases which usually culminate in lengthy fight sequences. Sandwiched in between these two Williams continues to expand the world building and with so many of the element stuck on repeat it is the world building which keeps the reader going.

The writing is good and Williams certainly knows how to describe and choreograph a fight, I would just council that the same descriptive word should not be overused, otherwise the fights may start to feel repetitive.

If this sounds like I didn’t like the book that would be wrong. This is an action packed, old school sci-fi adventure with much going for it. There will certainly be a fourth and maybe a fifth novel as this one finished on a cliff hanger.


Charles Packer

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