Review: The Fireborn Chronicles by Mary Andrews
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
The Fireborn Chronicles
by Mary Andrews
Swimming Kangaroo Books, 2007
272 pages, ISBN 9781934041505
The Fireborn Chronicles is a psionic/space-faring epic. The focus of the chronicles is Rael--an adoptee/refugee from The Hive with implants that allow him to access any data terminal with a thought. He's groomed by his foster-mother for Dark Ops government work, given his own ship and told to assemble a team of his choosing.
The first several sections of the book are essentially short stories jumping from place to place as we're introduced to the team that he assembles. The plot picks up when the team is together-at-last and has to track down what happened to a high-ranking ambassador. In the end, the fate of the known universe hangs in the balance.
Mary Andrews sets a grand stage with many inventive ideas--but as a whole this novel does not tell the story it sets out to as well as I would have liked. It was an easy read, slipping into cliche only now and then, though each section repeated details as if I'd not been privy to them before, jerking me out of the narrative repeatedly. And while a very complex universe is hinted at, its rendering was sparse and, I felt, the hinting overreached its presentation:
PSI of a certain sort are universally recognized, but are only allowed to live in one section of one planet; aliens of all sorts exist somewhere (accomodations have been made for them on a pleasure planet; and we meet one non-humanoid in the form of a station master), but for brief mention they have nothing to do with this story that "will change the universe".
I know the story is not meant to be taken too seriously, but still I wanted things to hang together a bit more. We jump from character introduction to character introduction as a team is gathered (losing one along the way, not to be mentioned again until half-way through the book, and then only off-handedly explained), with large gaps in character development.
And while the plot kept me increasingly curious, what wrapped it up was, for me, ultimately unsatisfying--a deus ex machina that is relatively unexplained and unexplored. The book largely read as a few snippets plus a larger novella whose main purpose was jumping off into another, as of yet untold, story.
All that said, I'm sure there's many a reader that will enjoy this book. It's a "psionic sci fi" romp with tinges of Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat and tinges of Babylon 5, where everything works out in the end.
25 comments; 19 subscribers
Do you have a comment? Log in or Register; registration is quick, painless, free, and spam-free (unless you ask for it)