by T.A. White
Series: The Firebird Chronicles #3
Also in this series: Age of Deception
Publication Date: December 15, 2020
Source: the author
I received an advance review copy of this book from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
When her most closely guarded secrets are laid bare, how will Kira survive the inevitable fall out—and will anybody be standing beside her in the end?
Traveling to the planet of Jettie in the hopes of finding safe harbor for her niece, Kira arrives only to find their destination host to the quorum—a series of dangerous contests that hold the power to decide the fate of empires.
With little choice but to participate, it doesn’t take long for Kira to find herself knee deep in enemies. Surrounded on all sides, Kira will have to face her worst fear. Trusting others with the truth.
Because it’s becoming clear the tsavitee are no longer content to exist in the shadows. War is coming—and everything Kira thought she once knew is about to change.
TLDR: if you like character-driven science fiction with romantic elements, just go read this series already.
Nothing like an ominous title, huh? As a humongous fan of the series, I had several guesses going in to this book exactly what that title meant, and, while I was partly right, the reality was so much better than I imagined! This is the third in the series, and the review will contain major spoilers for the first two books.
It’s startling to Kira how much like home House Roake is starting to feel, so maybe it’s a good thing that Elena, Kira and Jin’s niece – and Raider’s daughter – has shown up to shake things up. Returning her to Jettie, the Haldeel world she’s been living on, is Kira’s first order of business. Problem is, that’s also where the Haldeel are holding the quorum, a series of physical and mental contests that draw participants from all the worlds, including, for the first time, humans. But Elena’s not the only secret hiding on Jettie, and Kira’s trust in Graydon and Roake will be put to the test.
“What had set her apart was now something, if not ordinary, at least not unique.
“Not alone anymore,” Kira told her reflection.”
While things were finally looking up for Kira relationship-wise shortly before the end of the last book, she fully expects that revealing Elena’s existence – and, because of that, the fact that Kira wasn’t the only Tuann child to survive the camps – will irrevocably damage those relationships. But while things are definitely strained due to Raider’s hurt at discovering that Elise hid their daughter from him, Graydon and Harlow’s calm acceptance of the reveal is almost as troubling to Kira. While Kira’s still drawn to Graydon, she remains worried that once he knows her secrets – all of her secrets – he won’t trust, or want, her any longer. Kira’s arc through the series has revolved around trust, and, like her ki has healed, her ability to trust has as well. The harder realization is that even though her time with the Curs was the happiest in her life, she was never fully accepted by them and could never fully trust them because of that. Others, who should’ve been her friends and confidants, were more interested in keeping their secrets than welcoming her into the fold, and even after they became close, still kept secrets from her. Graydon – and some of the other Tuann like Finn, Wren and Harlow – seem to accept her and even trust her, though they’ve known her for far less time. The implications are troubling, but Kira’s smart enough to know that if she has any chance of rescuing Elise and averting another war, she’ll need all the help she can get.
“Next time, I would very much like to be apprised before you do something death-defying.”
“Why? You think you can stop me?”
His eyes narrowed to slits. “No, so I can mentally prepare.”
“Aren’t these kinds of things better as a surprise?”
If you can’t tell from the title, this is a definite turning point in the series. It’s the culmination of many of the plot threads from the earlier books, and the start of (hopefully) many more. It’s hard to talk too much about the book without going into spoilers! The pacing was excellent, and there’s a good balance between the more introspective character-building bits and the action, though, hoo-boy, there’s a lot of action! There’s more waverunning (and more about the Curs’ history with it), plus some very interesting Haldeel-style games. Haldeel culture itself was quite fascinating and very different from the other cultures explored so far. I’m continuously astounded by the world building in these books!
“Maybe stay home until the quorum is over,” Kira suggested.
“You worry about yourself. Me and mine know what to do. We’re not nearly as likely as you to go tilting at windmills that are already on fire.”
My favorite part of these books, however, is the characters. The snarky but fiercely loyal relationship between Jin and Elena is both hilarious and a bit heartwrenching, and adding Elena into the picture just makes it even better. The story shifts adroitly between the funnier moments and the more serious ones, and part of that is because of relationships between those three. While I’ve already mentioned Graydon, Kira’s also come to trust Finn, and, to some extent and for very spoilery reasons, Wren. We get to catch up with other familiar characters – Odin, Devon, Jace – and are finally introduced to ones that I, at least, have been speculating about for the past two books.
“It’d likely mean burning bridges, but Kira had always excelled at that. Himoto liked to say Kira didn’t just burn her bridges, she broke them into tiny pieces and soaked them in gasoline before lighting the bonfire. Afterwards, she’d pull up a chair and roast marshmallows in the resulting blaze.”
Overall, this was another excellent entry to the series and I can’t wait to see what happens next!