The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the second book in the Interdependency Sequence, and it has all the John Scalzi trademarks: a fast-moving plot, snarky dialogue, skimpy description, and solid worldbuilding. This last in particular is a high point of the book for me, as there were several revelations about the history of the Interdependency that I hope will be expanded upon in the final book. Presumably they will, as things are clearly pointing in that direction.
The only thing I didn't care for--and to be clear, this is just my personal preference, and not the author's problem--is the multiple points of view. I would rather the book focused on the original three characters: Cardenia Wu-Patrick (now Emperox Grayland II), Kiva Lagos, and Marce Claremont. I can see why the narrative included Nadashe Nohamapetan and Archbishop Gunda Korbijn, but neither they or their chapters were especially interesting. Cardenia Wu-Patrick was the real revelation in this book: her character developed nicely, into a quiet but shrewd and devastating badass. (She's also the source of the book's title, which I had been wondering about; it's drawn from her climactic speech, where she shuts down the treasonous conspiracy to oust her and drops the mic.)
There's a lot more court politics in this book: coups, attempted coups, conspiracies, and all kinds of maneuvering, double-crossing, and backstabbing. The reader's appreciation of the story will to a large extent depend on one's tolerance for this. I found it interesting, and more so as the book went along. This, combined with the revelations about the world, has me looking forward to the final book.
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