You've seen the signs posted at the beginning of those insane,
momentum- and gravity-driven amusement rides, right? The ones that say
"Those with high blood pressure, pacemakers, and…" a number of other
medically delicate conditions, "…should not board this ride." Yeah,
that should be on the front of this book. From nearly page one the reader is
bombarded with nonstop action or combat. The second book in the Autumn Rain trilogy, The Burning Skies is a tightly woven
work of conspiracy and military maneuvering. There is no clearly defined good
guy and bad guy because you are never sure whose side any of the characters are
truly on. The reader never quite knows which way is up, only that they are on a
really exciting ride. Now don't get me wrong; this isn't a complaint. I feel
Williams has masterfully constructed this maze of political intrigue. I
generally prefer character-driven fiction and we don't get enough in the character's
head to accomplish that for me here, but you really can't without destroying
the delicate complexity.
I was only slightly hindered by starting the series with book two,
but there is enough primary history provided in the first few pages that I had
no problem following the action and story-arc, which by its very nature was
half shrouded in shadow anyway. Where it was a handicap not having read book
one (The Mirrored Heavens, review to
come) is when secondary, character-specific facts from the first book came to
play in the course of the story. Not that I couldn't understand what was going
on, but it was jarring to have a key point only nominally explained because
anyone else would have read the previous book and already been familiar with
the incident. In a way this feels like part of a larger manuscript the
publisher dissected into a trilogy, as they often do.
If there was only one thing I could change about this book, it
would be varying the profanity a bit (I would say a good 95% of all the
profanity was f-bombs), and perhaps scaling it back. The level of use was
bordering on cliché and stereotypical to the extreme.
If there is one thing I would applaud above all else it would be
the author's ability to tightly weave all the fast-paced action; knowing when
to cut away for best effect, and yet still maintain a followable story-arc.
Duck, cover, and hold on tight, because this is one wild ride. I give The Burning Skies a 9 out of 10. High
military content mingled, as is often true in life, with political. The
military structure was detailed and convincing and the hardware original. If
you like intense, head-spinning military science fiction, this book would be
the one to pick up (reading the first book beforehand, recommended though not
FTC 16 CFR Part 255 Discloser:
Solicited by the author, with no compensation beyond a review copy of the book.