- File Size: 6620 KB
- Print Length: 345 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publication Date: April 30, 2017
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B071RQQRB3
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,331 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
To Fire Called (A Seeker's Tale From The Golden Age Of The Solar Clipper Book 2) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
It is along this same idea that the author mangles an established character to change the direction of a story. We are supposed to believe that one of the characters brought in from previous books is suddenly going to turn from trusted friend into a pathological liar and everyone is going to rewrite history by saying that they knew he was this way all along. This really kinda soured the book for me. Up to this point the books have all had steady and consistent character development.
The action and overall story are good and really fit the narrative to date. There are many parts that will have you eagerly turning pages and feeling sad that you've read too fast at the end because you wish it would have lasted longer. If you love the series, this is a must read but it will probably not be anyone's favorite by a long shot.
Which brings me to the just-released newest entry in the series, To Fire Called. The book opens with the Solar Clipper Chernyakova, captained by Ishmael, coming out of an extended period of repair after having languished for years of neglect. Ishmael is ostensibly on the hunt for the man who killed his lover Greta, and who escaped into "Toe-Hold" space, which is described as both ignored backwater areas of space and at the same time an underground economy of its own - - very similar, in fact, to the Firefly universe of the TV series. Things are far more complicated than a simple revenge tale, and in fact the hunt for the killer is never really part of the plot of To Fire Called. There are both mystery and thriller elements present as Ishmael, guided by the duplicitous Pip, is introduced to Toe-Hold space and attempts to both make a profit hauling freight, and discover more about the history of his ship, the Chernyakova.
Less attention is paid to day-to-day existence of the various spacers on the ship, and in fact there is so much skulduggery at work that at least two (or is it three, I can't recall - - or care) of the crew are revealed to be government agents. Ishmael's fundamental role as a subservient beta male to various strong women is again reinforced in To Fire Called, with his first mate and his chief engineer, both older women, browbeating and berating him at various times - - presumably he'll gift them with Whelkies to reward them for this. The major plot point - - spacers held in captivity if not outright slavery - - seems lifted from Lowell's other series, the fantasies featuring Tanyth Fairport, in which kidnapped sailors mine gold as slaves.
What's mostly missing amongst all of the deception and double-dealing are the little scenes, the descriptions of food made with strange ingredients - - banapods, darberries, beefalo - - that made the first five books so enchanting. There's a few good scenes as Ismael goes shopping for décor for his captain's cabin, as well as finally finding another tailor with the skill to dress him properly. A few recurring characters make re-appearances. But there are too few of these scenes and too many of trying to wring the truth out of the liar Pip, who is less appealing in this outing than in earlier books, or the minutiae of ship handling as the Chernyakova attempts to avoid destruction in a hostile star system.
Lowell creates a future where travel isn't instantaneous, alien threats don't exist, and where people still have to work hard for a living. You might think this anathema to the usual SF fare, but it's surprisingly engaging. There are very few "gee-whiz" contraptions that save the day, leaving you more room to explore the characters, loves, labours, and laments; this is where Lowell shines.
His characters are real, flawed, evolving, and eminently relatable. In Ishmael Wang we see an otherwise unremarkable man made remarkable by circumstance, thrust into a world he didn't know through tragedy and while he grows into himself, Lowell makes sure it isn't all "smooth sailing". If you appreciate the "romance of the seas", you'll appreciate how Lowell translates the allure to the seas between the stars and while much has changed, much is still recognizable.
It's an eminently readable - and re-readable - story, free of the usual SF trappings.
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