Unbroken Fire by Anne Wheeler [Book Review]
Unbroken Fire is the sequel to the awesome Asrian Skies by Anne Wheeler. You really need to read Asrian Skies before embarking on Unbroken Fire. It’s not that Unbroken Fire won’t be a great read, but that Asrian Skies is too, and it’s way better if you read them in the correct order! In my review of Asrian Skies I compared Anne Wheeler to Ann Leckie and Elizabeth Bear. This sequel is even better than the first one, and I stand by that comparison. Anne Wheeler is a really talented author, and she crafts amazing multi-dimensional stories with multiple twists.
Following on from the events of Asrian Skies, Unbroken Fire follows Avery Rendon in her quest to free her home planet of Asria from the invading Haedarans. The title’s unbroken fire refers to Avery’s spirit. Despite her ordeals in Asrian Skies her fire to free her people is unbroken.
Avery has returned to Asria, and has joined her government in exile deep in an underground bunker. Months have passed and there is no sign of liberation from the Commonwealth, and Avery feels trapped in the bunker. She gladly takes the opportunity when asked to seek help in person from their Commonwealth allies. However the escape isn’t smooth. Tension is high as Avery and her helpers take over a vessel to leave Asria.
Intercepted in interstellar space Avery falls back into the hands of the Haedaran empire. In what seems more than mere coincidence her uncle, previously the King of Asria, is on board the battleship that picks her up. As is her tormentor from Asrian Skies, Colonel Chase. Avery ends up back on Asria as a political pawn, and does her best to continue resisting without crossing the line to outright rebellion. All the while she is psychologically tortured.
While the story moves on in linear time the plot is far from linear. There are twists and turns. The Haedarans are riven by factionalism and fight like cats in a bag. Events play out, but it isn’t clear who has done what, and why they’ve acted that way (until the end). There are several riddles wrapped in enigmas that are slowly played out. The main characters, Avery & Chase, are fleshed out further in the course of Unbroken Fire and develop in entirely plausible, if painful, ways. Alliances are formed and broken, people plot and scheme. It’s an awesome ride, and a great continuation of the story. I’m also pleased that there’s a first draft of the third book in the trilogy, so sometime I’ll get to read even more of this awesome story!
I’m trying to avoid spoilers, but I’m going to risk them for a brief note on Colonel Chase. Chase is the main villain in Asrian Skies, he’s a sort of cultured gestapo type. It’s that mixture of contradictions that made him such a compelling villain, what he did was calculated rationally to break Avery. It was awful, yet Chase is a thinking man. We see a lot more of him in Unbroken Fire, and he still serves his empire. We see the power struggle between Chase, a senior figure in the independent imperial security machine, the Haedaran Governor, and the (former) King of Asria. Chase’s backstory comes out, and we feel sympathy for him. We also better understand his autonomy, and why he seems to help Avery against the Governor and her uncle.
As the back cover blurb says “Alliances will shift. Trust will be broken. And through it all, time is running out for the people Avery cares about the most.”
Pre-order Unbroken Fire
I was lucky enough to be offered an Advance Reading Copy (ARC) on the strength of having reviewed Asrian Skies. You can pre-order your own copy of Asrian Skies from Amazon.com for your kindle. It will be released on 19th June 2018.
Other reviews of Unbroken Fire
Don’t just take my word for it. Other people have had ARCs of Unbroken Fire and they have published their reviews. Here are some of the others:
- Review of Unbroken Fire by Shannon Hiner (author of the Immortal World series).
- The Bibliophagist review of Unbroken Fire.
- Unbroken Fire cover reveal and review by Hope McPherson.