In this second volume in The Interdependency series, humanity's interstellar empire is on the verge of collapse and a civil war, and Interdependency leader Emperox Grayland II prepares to take action to prevent catastrophe.
It’s important to note that you don’t have to read the first book to enjoy this one; Scalzi does an impressive job of bringing the story up to speed in the first 20 or so pages ... It’s an interesting choice by Scalzi to explore how a religious organization could run a mammoth society—of course there is a great deal of corruption, backstabbing and other political games at play and really it’s the families who are in control. At times it reminded me of one of the great science fiction space operas, Dune. There is a similar sense of scale, not to mention the murky politics and family rivalries. The world-building is breathtaking, it’s almost impossible not to get drawn into this system of the far future. Scalzi avoids the trap that many science fiction writers fall into—that of techno-babble—and makes accessible this far future on a distant planet. A large part of that is due to the way he writes—a fierce intelligence combining a sharp, at times acerbic, wit. With a fluid style and an incredible imagination, his work often becomes compelling reading.
The Consuming Fire is the very best type of space opera that blends the inner workings of social groups with the broader mechanisms of power—along with a strong dash of social commentary. Scalzi’s unique tone shines strongly in this book, mixing far future societies with modern slang and syntax to create worlds that could be happening now ... His handling of POV shifts in a linear scale that moves the narrative forward is deft. Each chapter brings its own excitement, which leaves the reader eager instead of upset at losing the previous POV. Each character is distinct and three-dimensional, and the female characters, in particular, are exceptionally well-rounded ... The worldbuilding, in particular, strikes a perfect balance between the pacing required for standard space opera, and the needed relationship between reader and character. Metaphor is kept to a minimum and internal musings on world elements, such as statues and such, always serve the plot in delicious ways ... The book is quintessential Scalzi, with enough political commentary, social justice, pew-pew shoot-’em-up, space renegades, and underhanded maneuvering, that no reader will leave empty handed.
The 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.