by T.A. White
Series: The Firebird Chronicles #2
Also in this series: Threshold of Annihilation
Publication Date: February 5, 2020
Genres: Science Fiction
I received an advance review copy of this book from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
War hero and daughter to two Houses, Kira is just beginning to learn how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Agreeing to accompany her father’s people back to their homeworld, Kira Forrest prepares for the fight of her life. She’s agreed to undertake the Trial of the Broken, a rite of passage every member of her father’s House must pass. It offers a path to independence and freedom that is too tempting to deny.
Not everyone welcomes this lost daughter of Roake. There are those who fear what her presence might bring to light. Betrayal stalks the halls of Kira’s birthplace—its roots embedded deep in the events that claimed her parent’s lives and set her on her current path.
Walking the wire’s edge between truth and deception will test the person Kira has become as she separates ally from betrayer. An old enemy has put into motion a plan that could topple the balance of power in the universe. Letting them succeed spells doom—but the price might be more than Kira is willing to pay.
Where Rules of Redemption was our introduction to Kira and her view of the universe, Age of Deception takes us deeper into her background and what makes her tick. This is a thoughtfully done (yet still action-packed, because, let’s face it, this is Kira) exploration of Kira’s past and how it’s formed her, good and bad. Plus, more of everyone’s favorite sarcastic not-a-drone, more Finn being stoic, more Tuann political shenanigans, more Tsavitee maneuvering, and, oh, we finally get to see Kira on a waveboard (!!). Also there are (obviously) spoilers for RoR in my review below.
“She knew she was never alone. Jin was always at her side.”
A big part of my love of these books is the relationship between Kira and Jin. Their banter is one of the highlights of the book for me, and Jin seriously gives Kira a run for most paranoid and distrustful. Kira’s still delightfully sarcastic and still prone to charge into situations, which leads to the typically Kira results of destruction and carnage. But while this book has plenty of action, the true focus is on Kira’s personal growth.
“Are you implying I’m broken?” Kira asked.
Graydon chuckled. “Never. You’re invested in protecting yourself and others. There’s no shame in that.”
That seemed like a nice way of saying something inside of Kira was broken.
I was incredibly excited to see Kira interact with House Roake, guessing based on Graydon that they’d be much closer to Kira’s personality than the Luathans. While Kira is still Kira (generally distrustful, skeptical of the Tuann’s motivations, unwavering from her personal – still secret – mission), Roake is an obvious better fit for her, paranoia and all. It’s their expectations – it’s no secret that she’s the Overlord’s daughter – that are what Kira has a problem with. Harlow, Kira’s uncle, is more like Kira than either want to admit, and he’s determined to convince her her place is with the Tuann. Because if there’s something broken in Kira, there’s also something broken in the Tuann, and they’ll both need to accept it and heal if they have any chance of defeating whatever the Tsavitee throw at them next.
“We can heal you,” Silas promised, his eyes never leaving Kira’s.
“And all you want in exchange is everything I am,” she said bitterly.
“You would be alive.”
Her smile was brief and didn’t reach her eyes. “There are things worse than death.”
In the last book, it was never quite clear what, exactly, caused Kira – who has a streak of responsibility the size of the galaxy – to abandon the Curs and go it alone, even after waking up from the coma. Kira’s reluctance to assume responsibility for others struck me as particularly funny, as throughout this book (and the last) she’s continually throwing herself into situations to rescue others with no thought for herself. It’s a little more complicated than that, though, and while we find out more about the events that changed Kira, what’s not as clear is whether she can heal from them – or whether she even wants to. There are parallels in her journey to that of the Tuann left behind after the Sorrowing and how they’ve moved on – or haven’t moved on – from those events.
“Son of a banter bot. I really should have made different life choices[.]”
All of this, of course, is happening while Kira is attempting to pass the uhva na, the Trial of the Broken, along with other potential initiates, the first step on the path to eventually becoming free of the Tuann. This introduces us to some new Tuann characters, as well as some returning Tuann (and human) characters from the first book. And, of course, there’s Graydon, who continues to be both annoyingly know-it-all and also unfailingly supportive of Kira. One of my favorite things about the last book was finding all the sneakily dropped hints and forming theories, some confirmed in this book, some most definitely not. And oh, there are some serious bombshells! While there is a bit of a cliffhanger – more like a new plot bomb dropped into the last chapter – the main plot of the story is wrapped up well, and there’s a definite direction the story is headed in.
Overall, I adored this book, and my only regret is that there’s no date yet for the third book. Highly recommended!