MixedCulturessThere are still some conventions observed in fantasy....but The Black Khan reads like it could have been published decades ago with how heavy it can be in the jargon as well as the simple flow of the sentences. If you’d like a shorter expression, the word is only clunky. This is not to say that the prose is necessarily bad so much as not to this reader’s taste ... Whether it’s the writing, the worldbuilding, or the characters, one of the three (or, ideally, all three) have to be engaging in some way. This is where the book fails. But at the same time, I can see where people would like its attempt to create a huge, sprawling world with legitimate consequences even for its magical heroines. That does seem to be what Zehanat Khan is going for, but it will be hard for some readers to follow her there.
PositiveCulturessThe Consuming Fire is the sequel to last year’s The Collapsing Empire, and on some level, it’s really easy to say that if you liked the latter, you’ll like the former ... it’s good to see that Scalzi does take some risks in his storytelling ... The narrator is casual, as in the first novel in the series, but it’s been taken to a new level in Fire, to the point where it almost feels as though I’m listening to someone in Buffy the Vampire Slayer talk. Whether or not this is a good thing is up for debate, particularly since it’s used during scenes that might not require that amount of levity. There are times where it does shine, but it still feels like it’s a touch overused ... However, overall, The Consuming Fire is just as fun of a ride as The Collapsing Empire was ... Kudos for Scalzi to getting all of this packed in.
MixedThe CulturessPlenty of twists help keep the reader engaged ... Perhaps the most major complaint is how everything pays off so effectively. Now, there’s a reason for that in the book. But it’s still hard to think about how long all of this has been going on. Blanchard tries to explain away parts of the mystery, but those explanations feel hollow. It’s all left feeling particularly artificial ... There is one exception to this, though: the ending scenes, which are raw in the best way.