These Burning Stars

English language

Published 2023 by Orbit.

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4 stars (6 reviews)

On a dusty backwater planet, occasional thief Jun Ironway has gotten her hands on the score of a lifetime: a secret that could raze the Kindom, the ruling power of the galaxy.

A star system away, preternaturally stoic Chono and brilliant hothead Esek— the two most brutal clerics of the Kindom—are tasked with hunting Jun down.

And tracking all three across the stars is a ghost from their shared past known only as Six. But what Six wants is anyone’s guess. It’s a game of manipulation and betrayal that could destroy them all. And they have no choice but to see it through.

3 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.

These Burning Stars

4 stars

A debut science fiction novel about secrets, genocide, and revenge.

I enjoyed all three point of view characters. Jun is a hacker with a secret past on the run. Esek is selfish, violent, and literally terrible, and yet she manages to be a captivating character. Chono is good-hearted and looks like a rule-following institutionalist, but her conflicting loyalties to people overrule her lawful tendencies. Chono and Esek are tied together by their relationships with Six, a mysterious figure who used to be a student with Chono; Esek spurning Six in the opening scene creates a feud that escalates out of control. I enjoyed the worldbuilding, but as you can see from this description, the heart of this book was in the relationships.

A content warning especially for genocide here. A good bit of the plot revolves around the Jeveni people; they were mostly killed on a small moon and the …

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.

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rated it

4 stars
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rated it

5 stars