These Burning Stars

464 pages

English language

Published Sept. 15, 2023 by Orbit.

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4 stars (2 reviews)

Jun Ironway—hacker, con artist, and occasional thief—has gotten her hands on a piece of contraband that could set her up for proof that implicates the powerful Nightfoot family in a planet-wide genocide seventy-five years ago. The Nightfoots control the precious sevite that fuels interplanetary travel through three star systems. And someone is sure to pay handsomely for anything that could break their hold.

Of course, anything valuable is also dangerous. The Kindom, the ruling power of the star systems, is inextricably tied up in the Nightfoots’ monopoly—and they can’t afford to let Jun expose the truth. They task two of their most brutal clerics with hunting her preternaturally stoic Chono, and brilliant hothead Esek, who also happens to be the heir to the Nightfoot empire.

But Chono and Esek are haunted in turn by a figure from their shared past, known only as Six. What Six truly wants is anyone’s …

4 editions

impressive craft

4 stars

Starts off in a stock fantasy of clerics and assassins, and clearly riffing on some familiar themes of space classics, but as this thriller's clever use of flashback and recall keeps weaving a strong set of character relationships and loyalties in unflinching intrigue, the wide-ranging story pulls off a lot of sharp turns without losing the individual threads. I'll likely read the next one, and thankful it's not just left as a part two.

Intriguing space opera

4 stars

Not a perfect debut novel, but a solid and intriguing space opera, full of cruel, coward and calculating characters, even though one important part felt deja vu (a powerful family controls the production of the substance that enables space travel...). All in all, it was an enjoyable read.