On Fire's Wings
(Luna Books, $13.95, paperback, 352 pages, 1 July 2004; ISBN: 0373802080.)
Luna Books is a relatively new imprint, out of Harlequin. The intent,
first announced a year or so ago, is to showcase books that firmly
the genres of romance and speculative fiction. Many romance readers
enjoy speculative motifs; many fantasy readers enjoy romantic subplots.
I thought, that makes sense, maybe I'll give it a peek. I was not really
expecting to have my socks blown off, but hey, this is Christie Golden.
The story begins with the end of the world. And then the story begins,
again, with a young girl seeking customers for her prostitute mother.
Kevla attracts the attention of a passing lord, who takes her into his
keeping. She struggles to make a place for herself in a world that respects
heritage more than talent, but Kevla holds a heritage that no one --
not her parents, not even herself -- expects. The time of the Dance
approaches, when the Dancers work their magic to save the world. Or
not, as the case may be, for each world is impermanent unless given
solidity by the Dance.
I wasn't expecting a romance to be this edgy, or this complicated.
There are in fact several very strong relationships threading through
the novel, including the one between Kevla and Jashemi. The plot is
full of fascinating cross-currents, not just between the emotional and
adventurous parts, but also between destiny and stupidity. The story
holds an overall pattern, a goal towards which everything wants to flow.
But because the culture is badly flawed, a lot of the characters make
mistake after ghastly mistake, dragging things off course. The question
then becomes, can Kevla straighten out the resulting mess before it's
On Fire's Wings holds great appeal for fantasy fans, with its
epic plot and exquisitely detailed scenery. Romance fans will enjoy
the intricate web of relationships amongst the characters. On the whole,
this is a tightly woven story that shows how great slipstream fiction
can be in the hands of a talented writer. Lest you think this book a
fluke, Christie is well into the later books of the series; watch for
the next one, In Stone's Clasp, due out
Nor is Christie the only top-notch author in the line; others include
Laura Anne Gilman, Catherine Asaro, and Mercedes Lackey. I've been impressed
by several other Luna books that I've peeked at in the store. Keep your
eye on this imprint.
Elsewhere in infinity plus: