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The Consuming Fire

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The Interdependency, humanity’s interstellar empire, is on the verge of collapse. The Flow, the extra-dimensional conduit that makes travel between the stars possible, is disappearing, leaving entire star systems stranded. When it goes, human civilization may go with it—unless desperate measures can be taken. Emperox Grayland II, the leader of the Interdependency, is ready The Interdependency, humanity’s interstellar empire, is on the verge of collapse. The Flow, the extra-dimensional conduit that makes travel between the stars possible, is disappearing, leaving entire star systems stranded. When it goes, human civilization may go with it—unless desperate measures can be taken. Emperox Grayland II, the leader of the Interdependency, is ready to take those measures to help ensure the survival of billions. But nothing is ever that easy. Arrayed before her are those who believe the collapse of the Flow is a myth—or at the very least, an opportunity that can allow them to ascend to power. While Grayland prepares for disaster, others are preparing for a civil war, a war that will take place in the halls of power, the markets of business and the altars of worship as much as it will take place between spaceships and battlefields. The Emperox and her allies are smart and resourceful, but then so are her enemies. Nothing about this power struggle will be simple or easy... and all of humanity will be caught in its widening gyre.


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The Interdependency, humanity’s interstellar empire, is on the verge of collapse. The Flow, the extra-dimensional conduit that makes travel between the stars possible, is disappearing, leaving entire star systems stranded. When it goes, human civilization may go with it—unless desperate measures can be taken. Emperox Grayland II, the leader of the Interdependency, is ready The Interdependency, humanity’s interstellar empire, is on the verge of collapse. The Flow, the extra-dimensional conduit that makes travel between the stars possible, is disappearing, leaving entire star systems stranded. When it goes, human civilization may go with it—unless desperate measures can be taken. Emperox Grayland II, the leader of the Interdependency, is ready to take those measures to help ensure the survival of billions. But nothing is ever that easy. Arrayed before her are those who believe the collapse of the Flow is a myth—or at the very least, an opportunity that can allow them to ascend to power. While Grayland prepares for disaster, others are preparing for a civil war, a war that will take place in the halls of power, the markets of business and the altars of worship as much as it will take place between spaceships and battlefields. The Emperox and her allies are smart and resourceful, but then so are her enemies. Nothing about this power struggle will be simple or easy... and all of humanity will be caught in its widening gyre.

30 review for The Consuming Fire

  1. 4 out of 5

    Roxane

    I was excited for this second installment of the Interdependency series. Lots of fun and clever storytelling. Interesting characters. A true space opera. But damn. So much exposition. So many characters explaining various histories and technologies instead of finding other ways to get that information across. There is far more explaining than actual story and the story is so good! Leave the explaining. Give us more of the political and romantic intrigue of these characters. Still can’t wait for I was excited for this second installment of the Interdependency series. Lots of fun and clever storytelling. Interesting characters. A true space opera. But damn. So much exposition. So many characters explaining various histories and technologies instead of finding other ways to get that information across. There is far more explaining than actual story and the story is so good! Leave the explaining. Give us more of the political and romantic intrigue of these characters. Still can’t wait for the next book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Kelsey

    I have to admit that I’m blown away. This is how you do a middle book in a series! I had a few misgivings about The Collapsing Empire (and some of Scalzi’s earlier novels), but he has completely outdone himself with this second Interdependency book. It’s fun to see his writing get better and better as he goes. The pacing is tighter, the story flows with more fluidity, the characters are much more distinct from one another now, the prose is drastically improved over the last one, and the payoff i I have to admit that I’m blown away. This is how you do a middle book in a series! I had a few misgivings about The Collapsing Empire (and some of Scalzi’s earlier novels), but he has completely outdone himself with this second Interdependency book. It’s fun to see his writing get better and better as he goes. The pacing is tighter, the story flows with more fluidity, the characters are much more distinct from one another now, the prose is drastically improved over the last one, and the payoff is massive. I may have actually thrown the book down and said “Yes! Wow, that was satisfying.” when I finished it. I’ve mentioned before that, thematically speaking at least, the Interdependency series is Scalzi’s Dune. That still rings true, but The Consuming Fire also feels as dense and conspiratorial as A Song of Ice and Fire, or like a solid espionage thriller. It tells a compelling story while also blowing the worldbuilding wide open and fleshing out some of the concepts that were underdeveloped in The Collapsing Empire. All of this and it does a fantastic job of catching the reader up with effortless exposition, in case it’s been a little while since you read the first in the series. I went back and reread the first book in the series just before starting this one in an effort to refresh my mind on the events thus far, but honestly, I think you could pick up The Consuming Fire as your first read in this series without really missing much. After 20-30 pages you’re all caught up and good to go. It’s impressively handled.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bradley

    Two things: What this novel does right, it does very right. Namely, he's got some very tight prose. His barebones linear plot always manages to explain everything in crystalline fashion, leaving nothing occluded, and it shows in just how much he accomplishes in such a short novel. I'm reminded of some of the best short novels of the Golden and Silver age of SF in both the style and function with one caveat: there's nothing at all racist or homophobic or sexist about it. :) Second thing: His underl Two things: What this novel does right, it does very right. Namely, he's got some very tight prose. His barebones linear plot always manages to explain everything in crystalline fashion, leaving nothing occluded, and it shows in just how much he accomplishes in such a short novel. I'm reminded of some of the best short novels of the Golden and Silver age of SF in both the style and function with one caveat: there's nothing at all racist or homophobic or sexist about it. :) Second thing: His underlying message about climate change deniers in terms of a collapsing wormhole network works fairly well. Hello, idiots, your house is burning down! :) Ah, alas. BUT. The soapbox is a thin veil. I'm trying not to mind but it is the vehicle for the whole novel. Even so, it doesn't detract that much from my total enjoyment of the novel. Indeed, I almost gave it a 5 star just because I had a lot of fun and it turns out to be a super easy read. :) Between the funny moments, the alternately cool action moments, and a surprisingly sweet romance, I call this a sure bet. :) It's a great space opera by Scalzi! Looking forward to the next!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Review for The Collapsing Empire I always enjoy Scalzi's books. They are fast paced, witty, and reside in fascinating, well developed worlds; The Consuming Fire is no exception. Following hot on the heels of the events of The Collapsing Empire Scalzi wastes no time in continuing the fast paced story of an Empire whose foundation turns out to be built in the equivalent of cosmic sand. I think this book's strongest point is its story. Scalzi does a wonderful job both creating the framework for it to Review for The Collapsing Empire I always enjoy Scalzi's books. They are fast paced, witty, and reside in fascinating, well developed worlds; The Consuming Fire is no exception. Following hot on the heels of the events of The Collapsing Empire Scalzi wastes no time in continuing the fast paced story of an Empire whose foundation turns out to be built in the equivalent of cosmic sand. I think this book's strongest point is its story. Scalzi does a wonderful job both creating the framework for it to take place in as well as populate that framework with a good story. There are lots of moving parts and conflicting agendas as well as the looming collapse of interstellar travel, the basis of human civilization. Scalzi builds on this by killing off some characters and throwing some pretty important revelations by the end. It was a gripping read in that respect and makes me very eager to get the next book. I will say, however, that the character work was a bit week. They were good enough to advance the plot but I never felt like they were fully realized characters. Don't expect to get deeply emotionally invested in these characters, they are mostly just what the plot needs them to be in a given moment. But that's ok, the story moves along fast enough that the action and story can carry the reading experience and just let the characters serve as a means to that end. So while not the most well rounded book, it was a heck of a ride and I can't wait for the next one. ~~~ Prologue Chapter 1 excerpt Chapter 2 excerpt

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mogsy (MMOGC)

    3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/10/25/... In my review of The Collapsing Empire, I wrote that while it marked a strong return for John Scalzi to the realm of space opera, ultimately it is the next book that will determine whether The Interdependency series will sink or swim. So now that I’ve read the sequel, what did I think? Well, I’ll be honest—I was hot and cold on it. There were moments where I felt the novel floundered, but others where things really soared t 3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2018/10/25/... In my review of The Collapsing Empire, I wrote that while it marked a strong return for John Scalzi to the realm of space opera, ultimately it is the next book that will determine whether The Interdependency series will sink or swim. So now that I’ve read the sequel, what did I think? Well, I’ll be honest—I was hot and cold on it. There were moments where I felt the novel floundered, but others where things really soared to new heights. I’m going to say that, for the time being, we seem to be in a holding pattern. The Consuming Fire picks up where the previous book left off, with the future of humanity cast in doubt as it is revealed that the extra-dimensional conduit known as the Flow—our species’ primary mode of travel between the stars, and the only system linking human colonies across the galaxy—is on the verge of collapse. Once it goes down, billions will be cut off and left to die, leading to the complete destruction of the Interdependency, the network of human hubs making up the interstellar empire. The Emperox Grayland II, formerly Cardenia Wu-Patrick, is trying her best to prepare for the coming disaster, but unfortunately, distractions caused by bitter infighting with the other noble houses aren’t helping. House Nohamapetan, longtime rivals of the Wus, is up to its old tricks, conspiring with the Emperox’s enemies in the government to try and seize the throne. But Grayland, determined to convey the dire news of what’s happening to the Flow, has some tricks of her own. As head of the Church of the Interdependency, she reveals she has been having religious visions, styling herself after the first Emperox who was famously known to have been something of a prophet. I feel so conflicted about this book. On the one hand, the world-building is compelling, and the majority of the characters are interesting to follow, but there were also times where I found myself almost dying of boredom, which is not something I thought I would ever say about a Scalzi novel. I love his work. I always have. But a knot of dread had been forming in my belly ever since I read in an interview that his Interdependency series would be paralleling the climate change debate, and I worry that my fears have come to pass. As a general rule, I could care less what an author’s political and social leanings are, as long as they can write and tell a good story, and above all keep the blatant preachiness about real-world issues out of their books. Speaking as someone who reads SFF for the escapism, it’s always disheartening to watch a novel all but become a thinly veiled opportunity for an author to stand on their soapbox. While I’m no stranger to message fiction, things tend to get dicey whenever ideas are elevated above story elements, such as plot and characters. Some of which I suspect was happening here, because things certainly felt a little…off. Characters, which are normally Scalzi’s forte, unexpectedly came across as flat and uninspired. A couple of them have been transformed into instruments of polemic, where their dialogue feels forced and scripted, almost in a grandiose and melodramatic “now, how do I turn this into a mic drop moment?” kind of way. Kudos to Scalzi for also trying his hand at something more cerebral, but his mistake might have been to force his usual snark onto this series, which reveals he has only one mode of humor. Nothing wrong with that on the surface—heck, some of the books that have made me laugh the hardest have been Scalzi’s. But again, it didn’t seem to work as well here. It felt like every time the moment called for some comic relief, inevitably it would involve Kiva Lagos walking in dropping a few F-bombs, because haha, that’s one sure fire way to get a laugh, right? Apart from Cardenia/Grayland, who has become almost as unmemorable as Marce, Kiva’s character was perhaps the biggest letdown in this sequel. Still, credit where credit’s due, when the story gets good, it gets amazing. It’s probably no surprise that my favorite sections were all related to the parts about government conspiracies, assassination attempts, jailbreaks, and old Countess Nohamapetan being up to her usual wicked self. There was also plenty of intrigue as our characters are faced with significant questions following a meeting with an isolated remnant of a previously cut-off population, and I think this thread can lead to some consequential developments. All told, The Consuming Fire suffers from an obvious agenda and a little of second-book syndrome, but I love John Scalzi too much to be writing The Interdependency off just yet. Everything now rests on the shoulders of the next book, which I hope will step up the storytelling and the character development, because in the end, those elements will be the key to this series’ success.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Roz

    First impression: WHY IS THIS BOOK SO DAMN SHORT? —— 2019, WHAT? HOW DARE HE??

  7. 4 out of 5

    Gary

    In his second Interdependency novel, John Scalzi picks up the threads he left dangling at the end of The Collapsing Empire: Kiva Lagos settles into her role as custodian of the House of Nohamapetan only to get a front-row seat to its matriarch’s treachery; Marce Claremont makes a stunning discovery (or re-discovery) while studying the collapse of the Flow streams; and Grayland II uses every tool at her disposal to consolidate power and convince the masses that the Flow collapse is real and urgen In his second Interdependency novel, John Scalzi picks up the threads he left dangling at the end of The Collapsing Empire: Kiva Lagos settles into her role as custodian of the House of Nohamapetan only to get a front-row seat to its matriarch’s treachery; Marce Claremont makes a stunning discovery (or re-discovery) while studying the collapse of the Flow streams; and Grayland II uses every tool at her disposal to consolidate power and convince the masses that the Flow collapse is real and urgent. This sequel comes out of the gate swinging, with Scalzi’s crunchy humor and hyper-efficient prose delivering a raucous mini-epic of a prologue that sets up Grayland II’s use of her position as leader of the Interdependency Church to advance her agenda. Scalzi is at his best when he offers a heady but digestible mix of action, humor and philosophical inquiry, and his opening salvo delivers all three in spades. The rest of The Consuming Fire offers plenty of the first two but seems willing to leave us hanging with the questions it poses about the confluence of church and state and the role both play in civic life. Perhaps the problem is that it spends all its capital on the lives of the governing elite while the lives of the governed are little more than a blurry rabble taking up space in the background. There are a lot of great action scenes and character moments in The Consuming Fire, and it has a “less talk more rock” edge over its annotative predecessor. Two books in, the Interdependency is entertaining enough to satisfy Scalzi’s fans; here's hoping some of its still dormant seeds will germinate in the next book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    Let me start by saying that if you don't smile when I say "Kiva Lagos" then you are dead to me. Loved this book as much as I loved the first book in the series. Background: I read books for the characters and yes there should be a plot but characters are what really jazzes me and gets me "into" a book. Scalzi can write. I mean he can really write great characters. Sure he has a lot of swipes at (let's just call them what they are...idiots) climate change deniers in this book so there are greater them Let me start by saying that if you don't smile when I say "Kiva Lagos" then you are dead to me. Loved this book as much as I loved the first book in the series. Background: I read books for the characters and yes there should be a plot but characters are what really jazzes me and gets me "into" a book. Scalzi can write. I mean he can really write great characters. Sure he has a lot of swipes at (let's just call them what they are...idiots) climate change deniers in this book so there are greater themes etc. etc. etc. but he just pulled me in to the story and did not let go. There was a lot of politics and back room dealing and we're still dealing with the end of the "Flow" and who know how many millions that will die and worlds that will end but I just loved the characters, their interactions, their growth, their dialogue, did I mention Kiva Lagos? It's a good space opera with a good plot that unravels at a nice clip but similar to Stephen King, Scalzi just makes me feel what the characters feel and he makes me care about them in a subtle way that is just staggering in how effective it is. On a side note: I read ALOT of fantasy. This book was a few pages over 300 and I feel and know more about the plot and the characters than I do from your usual 900 page doorstop of a fantasy (Sanderson, Martin & Weeks take note how to write). Highest possible recommendation.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Joel

    This is one of my absolute favorite novels of the year - it's vintage Scalzi, it feels like perhaps the most Scalzi-ish novel, if that makes sense. It's clever, witty, keeps you on your toes, and the ending is among the most "HOLY CRAP YES!" moments in a novel I've ever read. This was an outstanding read that I thoroughly enjoyed start to finish. Close to my favorite Scalzi novel.

  10. 4 out of 5

    kartik narayanan

    The Consuming Fire is a mildly enjoyable book and is better than its predecessor. But, for the most part, it shares similar attributes while emphasizing the intrigue and politics more and de-emphasizing the 'science' aspects. its tone is a bit ragged fluctuating between seriousness and humour. And while the climax is a bit satisfying, there is a huge deus ex machine that occurs.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I was not disappointed by this sequel. P.S, actually I enjoyed this one more than the first one. P.S. writing this on my phone. I don’t actually have much to say about the book. I enjoyed it a lot, and I was worried that I would have forgotten everything that happened in the last book, and I sort of had, but Scalzi makes it easy for you to catch up. Cardenia is still Emperox, Kiva is still a profane little firecracker, Marse is traveling around giving lectures about the flow collapse, and the eff I was not disappointed by this sequel. P.S, actually I enjoyed this one more than the first one. P.S. writing this on my phone. I don’t actually have much to say about the book. I enjoyed it a lot, and I was worried that I would have forgotten everything that happened in the last book, and I sort of had, but Scalzi makes it easy for you to catch up. Cardenia is still Emperox, Kiva is still a profane little firecracker, Marse is traveling around giving lectures about the flow collapse, and the effing Nohamapetans are still messing everything up like the galactic class assholes they are. They are all trying to prepare for the inevitable collapse of The Flow, which people are still hardcore resisting, despite a plethora of scientific data (cough cough). Cardenia is also dealing with the fallout from her decision to be only the second prophet Emperox, in an attempt to get more people on board with preparing for the collapse. Like the first book when she was dealing with the idea that the foundation of the Interdependency was a lie, here she has to deal with consciously replicating that same decision in order to basically “save the galaxy” or whatever. There’s a bunch of political maneuvering and some surprising twists and turns. I’m not sure what I was expecting from this book but it wasn’t what happened. I’m not sure where he’s going with it, either, which is really nice. I continue to enjoy Wil Wheaton’s audio book narration, especially his Kiva, who is a little shit, but I love her.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    FIRE continues with Scalzi at his best, and he avoids middle-book slump in his new space-opera cum political-intrigue novel. You definitely need to read The Collapsing Empire first, and, as always, start with the publisher's summary at the top of this page. "I was a teen-age Emperox." Grayland II comes of age early in her (unexpected) reign, and decides to publicize the coming disaster that losing the Flow will bring by..... having religious visions! It's not quite as nutty as it sounds, and usef FIRE continues with Scalzi at his best, and he avoids middle-book slump in his new space-opera cum political-intrigue novel. You definitely need to read The Collapsing Empire first, and, as always, start with the publisher's summary at the top of this page. "I was a teen-age Emperox." Grayland II comes of age early in her (unexpected) reign, and decides to publicize the coming disaster that losing the Flow will bring by..... having religious visions! It's not quite as nutty as it sounds, and usefully flushes out some of her opponents. And Cardenia Wu-Patrick (her alternate identity) discovers romance, which is fun, and unexpectedly tender. She (and we) make some unexpected discoveries on the history of the Interdependency, and Lord Marce the Flow physicist advances his (and our) knowledge with an expedition to a system lost 800 years ago after a Flow shift. FIRE comes to a most satisfactory conclusion, as Grayland prepares to address Parliament, leading off with what my favorite badass character Kiva Lagos calls the Best. Party. Ever. It's quite a bash. Don't miss it! And more to come....

  13. 5 out of 5

    Allison Hurd

    Another fun installment in a comedic space opera about dire consequences. I don't think it was as amusing or taut as the first book, but I still read it quickly and with a few good chuckles. CONTENT WARNING: (view spoiler)[ some body horror, prison violence, mild sexual coercion (hide spoiler)] Things to enjoy: -Kiva and Cardenia. The stars of the show again, this time Kiva is in charge of finances, and Cardenia is announcing she's a prophet. They were still fun characters with their very own motiv Another fun installment in a comedic space opera about dire consequences. I don't think it was as amusing or taut as the first book, but I still read it quickly and with a few good chuckles. CONTENT WARNING: (view spoiler)[ some body horror, prison violence, mild sexual coercion (hide spoiler)] Things to enjoy: -Kiva and Cardenia. The stars of the show again, this time Kiva is in charge of finances, and Cardenia is announcing she's a prophet. They were still fun characters with their very own motivations. Kiva's mouth never stops running. -Scalzi's humor. A few timely self-references, a few acerbic comments on the nature of man and its institutions, and lots of snark. I was hoping for a quick, funny read and was not disappointed. -The Auvergne and Dasalysans. That was a fun scifi twist. -The "Got ya's". There were a few lines of dialogue or maneuvering where you just couldn't help but reflexively start to dial the Burn Unit. There were some real stunners. Things that weren't as tight: -The politicking. He's excellent at running down the list of consequences for everyone's bad decisions. He's less subtle in his machinations. In a book all about machinations, it gets pretty noticeable. -Repeats. There's a lot of hand wringing, a lot of "hey reader, remember this?" moments, actual bits of dialogue repeated not for comedic effect or character affect, and scene structures ((view spoiler)[ was there a rule that there could only be positive politicking while fucking? (hide spoiler)] ) -Cartoon opposition. All the opposition is cartoonishly evil and moronic. Moreso than last book. -Cliffhanger ending. The epilogue ends like a chapter break. I'm not as upset because I felt the main story was resolved, but it's clear we're jumping right into the third book. I don't usually love this, and while it's not as offensive as some I've read, it's still not my favorite writing trick. -Crass. It was a bit more crass than last book--I know, that's saying something. It's weird, because I feel Cardenia (and to some extent Kiva) are pretty well built women characters...and then so many others are not given that care. A few lines about women's autonomy and experiences that really felt in poor taste. I enjoyed it, I still zipped through it. But the first book was a masterpiece of everything falling down around two women diametrically opposed in personalities and desires. This one is a mediocre intrigue, a belabored book of rebellion and a skimpy space romance (I mean more in the space faring/adventure sense, but I guess maybe also the relationship-centric book sense). However, if you're reading or planning to read this book, you likely found the main characters of Collapsing Empire interesting, and you do grow to care more for them in this installment. Plus, it's still snarky. A fun, light romp. Turn off brain, insert popcorn.

  14. 4 out of 5

    David Holmes

    I was not too impressed with the first half of this book. The books in this series don't work well as stand-alones, but Scalzi tries to do his job and fill in the reader nonetheless... and those pages are mostly tedious. There's also more dabbling with Game of Thrones in Space, but it really doesn't work for me. The second half worked much better for me than the first, though, leaving a fairly good taste in my mouth.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    Executive Summary: Another fun book by Mr. Scalzi, although I wish it had been a bit longer. Audiobook: Once again, John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton make a perfect fit. John Scalzi books are always full of snark, and Wil Wheaton is great at delivering it. He also does a few voices along the way that makes this a definite audio choice for me. Full Review I found the start of this book a little slow. I'm bad at names, so maybe I missed the significance later in the book, but I don't really get the point Executive Summary: Another fun book by Mr. Scalzi, although I wish it had been a bit longer. Audiobook: Once again, John Scalzi and Wil Wheaton make a perfect fit. John Scalzi books are always full of snark, and Wil Wheaton is great at delivering it. He also does a few voices along the way that makes this a definite audio choice for me. Full Review I found the start of this book a little slow. I'm bad at names, so maybe I missed the significance later in the book, but I don't really get the point of the prologue. Once the story got back to the main characters of the first book however, I found it really enjoyable. This series is the kind of character-driven space opera that I enjoy the most. There is just enough science there to make things interesting, but really it's all about the people and politics from a scientific crisis than about the science behind it. Kiva continues to be my favorite character that Mr. Scalzi has written to date. Her chapters were again the ones I enjoyed the most in this book. She's still not a person that I'd probably get along with, but one I certainly find entertaining to read about. I think Cardenia is now a close second. She's really coming into her own in this book. I really look forward to seeing where things go next. I don't want to get into specifics but people will continue to underestimate her at their own peril. I liked Marce a lot more in this book than the previous one. His storyline was not at all what I was expecting and led to some very interesting developments that I wish were explored more in this book. I always enjoy John Scalzi books, and this series so far has been one of my favorites. I am a bit concerned at how short this book was and how much their seems to be to wrap this series up in only one more book. He really expanded the plot a lot in this book. While this set things up nicely for the next book, I have concerns there will be a lot of loose ends to tie up. Overall, another fun book in this series, and I'm eagerly looking forward to the next one.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lata

    Scalzi's did not disappoint with this second Interdependency instalment. Grayland is working really hard to get everyone to take the Flow collapse seriously, Marce is talking to scientists about the Flow collapse, Kiva Lagos is going through House Nohamapetan's finances, and finding plenty of financial shenanigans, while the Countess and Nadashe Nohamapetan are busy scheming. The story and language are zippy, and frequently funny, even while the plans against Cardenia grow wide and fast. And the Scalzi's did not disappoint with this second Interdependency instalment. Grayland is working really hard to get everyone to take the Flow collapse seriously, Marce is talking to scientists about the Flow collapse, Kiva Lagos is going through House Nohamapetan's finances, and finding plenty of financial shenanigans, while the Countess and Nadashe Nohamapetan are busy scheming. The story and language are zippy, and frequently funny, even while the plans against Cardenia grow wide and fast. And the Flow continues to degrade. I like the details Scalzi's introduces about an earlier Flow collapse. And I have to agree with Kiva; Grayland's party was the best.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Oleksandr Zholud

    This is the second volume of the Interdependency trilogy(?). Just like the first book, The Collapsing Empire, it is a nice fast-paced yarn without heavy philosophizing. While per se it isn’t bad, for Scalzi is the talented writer but it is still not up to his other novels even despite the ending of this one calls for adding another star to the rating. There is the Interdependency, a collection of human worlds/habitats, connected by the Flow, which allows faster than light travel and united under This is the second volume of the Interdependency trilogy(?). Just like the first book, The Collapsing Empire, it is a nice fast-paced yarn without heavy philosophizing. While per se it isn’t bad, for Scalzi is the talented writer but it is still not up to his other novels even despite the ending of this one calls for adding another star to the rating. There is the Interdependency, a collection of human worlds/habitats, connected by the Flow, which allows faster than light travel and united under the Emperox. For a thousand years it flourished but now the Flow is changing and it can fall apart, which will doom the population for (almost) none of the worlds are self-sufficient. The current Emperox tries to minimize the fallout, but most ‘powers that be’ are too short-sighted to follow along. The Emperox attempts another way, for she is a leader of the Church as well. For the first quarter of the book there are intrigues and plots up to a point, where I started musing about the term space opera in general: for some writers it is just a background, easily replaceable with another – say the Flow disaster can be changed to a plague in a medieval historical fiction and the dialogues and actions stay the same. For me a good space opera should have SF elements in it, irreplaceable by other genres. And, lo and behold, they do appear closer to the middle of the book. We learn more about history of the Interdependency, get hints about even earlier one and some space adventures to boot. The finale, as I noted is brilliant. A solid continuation of the space opera, which reminds other classics, from Foundation to Dune. At the same time, not the ‘true art’ but a very skillfully crafted toy, which unlikely will call for the re-read.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Frederico Araujo

    Superb book with an interesting end. Although a quick book, still entertaining. Definitely some room to develop more the characters. Now can't wait for the 3rd book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Fry

    I recently reread The Collapsing Empire and though I loved it the first time I found it stale the second time around. I felt it lacked character development, well anything it lacked in the first book IT FREAKING KILLED IN THIS ONE! An amazing amount of character development from all of my favorite characters from TCE and it really built up the universe that is the Interdependency. Scalzi did an amazing job weaving the stories and points of view into an amazing and intimate space opera. Highly re I recently reread The Collapsing Empire and though I loved it the first time I found it stale the second time around. I felt it lacked character development, well anything it lacked in the first book IT FREAKING KILLED IN THIS ONE! An amazing amount of character development from all of my favorite characters from TCE and it really built up the universe that is the Interdependency. Scalzi did an amazing job weaving the stories and points of view into an amazing and intimate space opera. Highly recommend!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jon Adams

    I read this in a day (without reading it at work) and stayed up way too late to finish it. It's prefect continuation to The Collapsing Empire. Even with all the intrigue and politics, I can't tell you how many times I laughed out loud. Read it!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    I have such mixed feelings about this series. The world is fascinating, and the central conflict with its parallels to climate change is a worthy challenge to tackle in a space opera, but sometimes I wonder if Scalzi is really up to that challenge. I feel like if he and Kim Stanley Robinson could just meld minds for a bit, they’d write my ideal sci-fi novel. But I also feel like they would NOT get along. My main beef with both this and The Collapsing Empire is that these novels are too short to I have such mixed feelings about this series. The world is fascinating, and the central conflict with its parallels to climate change is a worthy challenge to tackle in a space opera, but sometimes I wonder if Scalzi is really up to that challenge. I feel like if he and Kim Stanley Robinson could just meld minds for a bit, they’d write my ideal sci-fi novel. But I also feel like they would NOT get along. My main beef with both this and The Collapsing Empire is that these novels are too short to do themselves or their characters justice. They are so cinematic in their pacing and scripting that they fail to take advantage of what the Novel-with-a-capital-N offers, both aesthetically and structurally. This novel literally ends with a montage, followed by an exciting, fun, and viscerally gratifying climactic scene... which just made me think Scalzi would rather be writing a screenplay, or rather that he was writing a screenplay and just happened to be formatting it as a novel. I find that irritating, frustrating, and oddly condescending. Just let me linger here and there, dude! You won’t lose me! Scalzi also has this weird tendency to avert his eyes at key moments, or undercut tension by bluntly interrupting the scene with some event that changes the stakes without actually giving that event any real narrative weight. It’s almost like he feels bad for the reader, like he doesn’t want us to be too stressed out. Or that he doesn’t want to spend time lingering in upsetting moments. But like, dude, you’re writing a pre-apocalyptic space opera. It should be a little upsetting.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael Hicks

    Readers who enjoyed John Scalzi's previous entry in his latest series, The Interdependency, should find The Consuming Fire a fun romp. That said, being a second book in a trilogy, it does have a fair bit of middle-child syndrome, even if it is, overall, an engaging and fast-paced listen. The Collapsing Empire, 2017's most appropriately named book release, set the stage for this series with its central premise of interstellar travel by way of the Flow (think rivers in space) and what will happen t Readers who enjoyed John Scalzi's previous entry in his latest series, The Interdependency, should find The Consuming Fire a fun romp. That said, being a second book in a trilogy, it does have a fair bit of middle-child syndrome, even if it is, overall, an engaging and fast-paced listen. The Collapsing Empire, 2017's most appropriately named book release, set the stage for this series with its central premise of interstellar travel by way of the Flow (think rivers in space) and what will happen to these intergalactic civilizations when those streams begin to collapse. As The Consuming Fire picks up, more Flow streams are collapsing, setting off a political shitstorm between Emperox Grayland II and the ruling houses either hellbent on denying the science behind the Flow's collapse or usurping the throne in order to further their own power. There's a dark vein running through the core of The Consuming Fire, what with its promise of civil war, attempted assassinations, and ENTIRE FUCKING PLANETS FULL OF PEOPLE being cut off from civilization and the resources required to keep them alive as the Flow disappears to condemn everybody to certain death. And yet, somehow, Scalzi avoids miring this series in prolonged, protracted portrayals of misery. The political shenanigans involving various houses competing for control of the empire recall a certain Game of Thrones In Space! element, but The Consuming Fire never devolves into violently brutal bloodbaths and Scalzi is hardly the sadist George R.R. Martin is, even though his plot promises the untimely deaths of waaaaaaay more people than Martin ever conjured to kill. No, somehow Scalzi manages to keep it all fairly light and, somehow, comical, even when bodies are hitting the floor. Operating as an allegory to climate change and how the rich and powerful attempt to profit from science denialism in order to become even more rich and powerful, right up until the moment of complete and utter collapse, really shouldn't be this entertaining. Yet I found myself laughing frequently, thanks to Scalzi's wordsmithing, particularly at one point late in the book when a formerly human-now artificial intelligence jokes about dying in the flow. “We have to talk about your sense of humor,” the formerly human-now AI is told. “It was like this before. How do you think I died?” Yeah, I couldn't help but laugh out loud at that one. A lot of this is due to Wil Wheaton's narration. The Collapsing Empire was my first introduction to both Scalzi as an author and Wheaton as a narrator, and I immediately fell in love with the both of them. It was apparent right from the start that Wheaton is a perfect match for Scalzi's work and sensibilities, and Wil just flat-out gets it. The Consuming Fire isn't just funny, it's goddamned snarky, and Wheaton does a fine job delivering snarkiness. Having been an actor since his childhood, he brings along that element of role-play to his audiobook narrations, injecting the reading with emotion and verve that really keeps things hopping along nicely. The Consuming Fire is a worthy follow-up to the prior book, and while it doesn't advance the story of The Interdependency in huge leaps and bounds Scalzi does inject a few interesting wrinkles and side adventures for his cast of spacebound lords and ladies. Being the middle-child, its primary mission is to move certain pieces into place for the grand finale next book, and Scalzi does this really well, presuming that the next book, ominously (or at least tentatively, per Scalzi's February 2018 blog update) titled The Last Emperox, is indeed the last. Throughout this necessary bit of set-up, though, Scalzi at least injects enough new stuff, and even a few new mysteries, to make it a highly worthwhile listen. Plus, it's just damn good fun, and that's always welcome and necessary considering the time and reality we currently live in.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amazonaute

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I’ve put this under a spoiler thingee not because I have any, but to ensure that people won’t read this before they read the book, or don’t care about me taking the shine off. Which I do a lot in the below review. I apply a high standard to Scalzi. This is good stuff, an excellent first draft. The book could be better. I am a bit concerned that he has become so successful that his editors aren’t being firm with him. This has happened to gabaldon, and jk Rowling with the Harry Potter books. The bi I’ve put this under a spoiler thingee not because I have any, but to ensure that people won’t read this before they read the book, or don’t care about me taking the shine off. Which I do a lot in the below review. I apply a high standard to Scalzi. This is good stuff, an excellent first draft. The book could be better. I am a bit concerned that he has become so successful that his editors aren’t being firm with him. This has happened to gabaldon, and jk Rowling with the Harry Potter books. The big picture stuff in this book is wonderful, as is the way it’s revealed. The book is an easy read, with lots of breezy repartee. What was making me muttery while I was reading, was the whole “these are the good guys. You root for them, reader,” and “these are the bad guys.” Without more being done in the book to develop and engage with the characters. One likes to say “fuck” a lot (I do too, so it’s fine per se), and thinks about sex (and has sex) a lot. The others ...don’t? As much? That’s about it really. The baddies want to take over. The goodies want to stay in power. But the baddies, other than wanting all the power, aren’t depicted as ... I don’t know, particularly bad in any other way really. Being elitist? But the goodie is the ... emperor, scion of the ruling family, ie in the same elite...it’s all a bit shruggy really. Oh, one baddie is really really angry. This means that when either side has a victory or a defeat...it’s not that big a deal. And there isn’t any option for the baddies to progress except by taking power against the goodies’ will. Like I said: a good first draft. And a Scalzi first draft is better than a lot of books written by everyone else.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Roy

    Scalzi just makes scifi fun and easy to read. Action, thrills humour and more!! Hes never overly complicated with his structure or world buidling. If youre new to scifi 100% check this out.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This is such a good series and I couldn't wait to read this. It is fabulous! So funny, action-packed, scandalous and thrilling. I think it suffers just a little from being the 'middle book' but it's such a fun read in its own right. And now I cannot wait for book 3! Review to follow shortly on For Winter Nights.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Soo

    Just Notes: - I want the third book to be out now. - Story development for the plot took too long. - The climax was not given the right amount of development. It made it seem like a tasteless tie up rather than a well thought out conclusion. - I felt like I fell into a weird vortex and ended up in Bobiverse. If there is an intentional connection to the series, that's awesome.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Acqua

    3.25 stars. What The Consuming Fire lacks in depth, it makes up for in entertainment and solid plotting. While reading this sequel, I finally understood what exactly wasn't working for me when I reread - and loved a lot less - The Collapsing Empire. It's about the relationships. And with that I do not mean only the romance, even though it's part of the problem. Every relationship the characters have in this book has basically no depth to it, even when the character involved aren't completely flat ( 3.25 stars. What The Consuming Fire lacks in depth, it makes up for in entertainment and solid plotting. While reading this sequel, I finally understood what exactly wasn't working for me when I reread - and loved a lot less - The Collapsing Empire. It's about the relationships. And with that I do not mean only the romance, even though it's part of the problem. Every relationship the characters have in this book has basically no depth to it, even when the character involved aren't completely flat (and they often are). In this installment, Marce and Cardenia like each other because... plot? Because they're a man and a woman? I don't know, and it's been a while since I read a relationship so lacking in chemistry, and it's not like Kiva Lagos (whom I love) and her female love interest are that much more convincing either. Yes, I love that there was bisexual rep and an f/f relationship, but the romantic subplots are flat and the author didn't convince me that any of the characters were even only physically attracted to anyone. The "friendships" and mother-daughter relationship do not feel fleshed out in any way either. Which is a shame, because this series is so much fun. It's such a wild ride, I couldn't stop reading, and the plot twists truly surprised me. It's twisted and political and full of intrigue and all the things I love. I only wish it wasn't so plot-driven it's almost impossible to actually get attached to anyone. It even says a lot of interesting things about how societies and empires work, and about the role of religion in empires. The thing is, fast-paced fun books with flat characters and character interactions don't feel as fast-paced and fun when you reread them, and this means this series will ultimately end up being forgettable, no matter the interesting worldbuilding, themes and plot.

  28. 4 out of 5

    FanFiAddict

    This one is going to be short, and pretty much to the point. You know all of those times when you highly anticipate a sequel and then are immediately let down? Yeah, this is one of those. First things first: I LOVE Will Wheaton’s narration. He makes each and every novel even better with his spoken word, but it wasn’t enough to force my hand into giving more love. Beginning on the heels of The Collapsing Empire, The Consuming Fire takes us on a journey that, well, reminds us of what happened in Book This one is going to be short, and pretty much to the point. You know all of those times when you highly anticipate a sequel and then are immediately let down? Yeah, this is one of those. First things first: I LOVE Will Wheaton’s narration. He makes each and every novel even better with his spoken word, but it wasn’t enough to force my hand into giving more love. Beginning on the heels of The Collapsing Empire, The Consuming Fire takes us on a journey that, well, reminds us of what happened in Book 1 and adds some ooohs and aaahs along the way. The Flow [for recapping purposes: since the universe is still bound by the laws of physics (no faster than light travel), Scalzi has introduced a network between connected systems to create quick travel pathways. All pathways go through the Interdependency, aptly named because all settlements connected via The Flow need one another for survival] is dissipating and the systems connected are starting to feel the effects. While Emperox Grayland II, the leader of the Interdependency, attempts to help the billions that will surely be wiped off the board, others who believe that all of this talk is for political gain ensure that their own agendas are met. Everything becomes a power struggle and it is up to key players to root out a way to win and save humanity. I can’t quite tell if the letdown was how friggin short this book was or the fact that there just wasn’t much “wow” factor to it. The political machinations, sciency tidbits, and love of how The Flow was created/operates keep The Consuming Fire an interesting and intriguing read, but it suffers hugely from 2nd book syndrome. Not enough truly happens and a lot of what Scalzi is forcing into the book (very progressive ideals) come across like he is trying too hard. I’m hoping Book 3 isn’t a letdown, but I’ll give it a go when it releases; if only for another Wheaton performance and to see how the series ends (if it does).

  29. 5 out of 5

    Trike

    The second installment of the Interdependency series is fast and fun, everything you want in a rollicking Space Opera adventure. Scalzi really packs in a lot of stuff, too, from space battles to palace intrigue to exploration of long-lost civilizations. It’s Star Wars, Rendezvous with Rama, and Dune distilled into one lean package. He also manages to make the collapse of the Flow, the interstellar river/highway which connects all the worlds of the Interdependency, into a non-obvious commentary on The second installment of the Interdependency series is fast and fun, everything you want in a rollicking Space Opera adventure. Scalzi really packs in a lot of stuff, too, from space battles to palace intrigue to exploration of long-lost civilizations. It’s Star Wars, Rendezvous with Rama, and Dune distilled into one lean package. He also manages to make the collapse of the Flow, the interstellar river/highway which connects all the worlds of the Interdependency, into a non-obvious commentary on global warming. I haven’t seen anyone else mention that particular aspect, so maybe I’m reading into it, but to me the parallels are unmistakeable. If there is any fault here, it is the fact that the overall light tone doesn’t allow the deaths to hit home emotionally. (It’s Space Opera, of course there are deaths. Lots and lots of deaths.) But overall it is immensely enjoyable and has a satisfying ending that nonetheless leaves plenty to be explored in the subsequent volume.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Barb in Maryland

    3.5 stars for the second episode in Scalzi's latest space opera. Good fun after a slow start. Lots of palace politics, conspiracies, double and triple-crosses, all leading to a dramatic showdown. And hanging like the Sword of Damocles over all is the knowledge that the Flow (the space-time anomaly that allows for FTL travel between the different worlds of the Interdependency) is collapsing, isolating the member worlds from each other. I had a good time with this once I got into it. I had not re-re 3.5 stars for the second episode in Scalzi's latest space opera. Good fun after a slow start. Lots of palace politics, conspiracies, double and triple-crosses, all leading to a dramatic showdown. And hanging like the Sword of Damocles over all is the knowledge that the Flow (the space-time anomaly that allows for FTL travel between the different worlds of the Interdependency) is collapsing, isolating the member worlds from each other. I had a good time with this once I got into it. I had not re-read The Collapsing Empire before starting this, which, in hindsight, I should have done, given my pathetic memory. However, once the action kicked in it didn't really matter. I got caught up in the story and the author dropped enough background info so that I was quickly up to speed. And now to wait, wait, wait for the next book.

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