The Providence of Fire
Book 2 of The Chronicles of the Unhewn Throne
by Brian Stavely
Wow! I thought The Emperor’s Blades was great, but The Providence of Fire upped the ante on the series and was even better! Not only was it longer (679 pages compared to 545), but the intensity of action and scope of plot increased as well!
The Providence of Fire returns us to the empire of Annur and the roles Kaden, Adare, and Valyn are playing in saving it. We (as the reader) are able to track the situations and thoughts of each of the characters, and it’s a wild ride as each are forced to make decisions that seem right in the moment….but if only they knew what the others knew, they might choose differently! There was one particular (major) plot point where I wasn’t sure which way it was going to go as the characters were being fed conflicting pieces of information. As chapter after chapter passed by, I wasn’t about to discern which was correct until the actual reveal! And even then I doubted the veracity of it.
The difference in the characters’ placement in the story from the beginning to the end is night and day. No longer are the three children trying to work together…instead, it appears that they’re setting themselves against each other! And yet, if they could all just be in the same room and talk to each other, you wonder if they’d resolve everything and present a unified front to the forces that are opposing them.
And those threats have increased as well. In The Emperor’s Blades, the big, bad threat was revealed to be the immortal Csestriim, but that understanding is challenged, and it now appears that the threat is even greater than them. But is it? Or is this just another ploy being made by the Csestriim to wipe out humanity? On one hand, the gods have been described as humanity’s saviors in the war against the Csestriim, but now it looks like the gods are the enemy….or are they? Who should be trusted!??!?
I don’t know if it was intentional or not, but I saw a thread of confronting bigotry woven throughout the story. Most of the characters had to individually decide what to do with their belief that a different race or people group (eg the Csestriim, Urghals, leaches, etc) was inherently evil. When forced to decide between accepting their help or out-of-hand dismissing (or killing) them, they each struggled…..and I as the reader struggled too! Even looking back on the story, I’m still conflicted about how they handled those decisions.
Each of the characters have been swept up in the current of history; they’re forced into situations where there are no good, easy decisions, and they keep taking the most obvious path. But by the end of the book, they have each come to a point where they put their foot down and started making waves. Whether those decisions will ultimately be for harm or for good remains to be seen.
I am eagerly anticipating finding out what happens in the next book. This series has definitely found a place among my favorite fantasy books, and it’s very possible they’ll take the top spot. Part of that is the intricate plot and how it’s told, and part of it is that Brian Staveley is an author who really knows his stuff. I have time and again stepped back and looked at the fourth wall and been highly impressed and how he’s telling this story.
( ) definitely won’t read again
( ) might read again
(x) definitely would read again
( ) wouldn’t recommend
( ) might recommend
(x) definitely would recommend