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October 29, 2023

A Fire Born of Exile by Aliette de Bodard ~ a Review

by MK French

The Scattered Pearls Belt is a string of habitats on the edge of a huge galactic empire. Quỳnh was a scholar betrayed and left for dead, now back as the glamorous Alchemist of Streams and Hills. Minh is one of her oldest enemies' daughter, who wants freedom. Hoà is a near-destitute engineer who becomes a threat to all Quỳnh’s plans with their unexpected attraction. Will Quỳnh allow herself to love again, or will she continue to seek revenge?

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of space opera A Fire Born of Exile by Aliette de Bodard
October 2023; JAB Books; 978-1625676535
ebook, print (406 pages); space opera

A Fire Born of Exile
is a space opera in the Xuya universe of novels, independent of the others even though there are references to particular locations. Included in this series of novels are The Red Scholar's Wake and Seven of Infinities. This excellent entry into the series discusses love, revenge, and how the past can weigh people down; it reminds me very much of the Count of Monte Cristo in the overall plotline.

Accents, dress, and class can give everything away in this 'verse, much as it can in real life; Minh is recognized right away in a market because of her accent. Quỳnh’s introduction is by saving Minh from being kidnapped, and she later agrees to help Hoà fix a broken mindship. Both Quỳnh and her mindship are bent on revenge, abandoned fifteen years ago while those who left them for dead had prospered and raised families.

Quỳnh’s revenge is convoluted and depends on the power structures within the extended Empire. Minh and her friend are meant to be collateral damage, and developing a relationship with Hoà was an accident. This isn't the only thing that wasn't foreseen, and finding out there were more conspiracies beneath the surface is something that Hoà has difficulty dealing with. As a technologist, she's of a far lower ranking than scholars or the military, both of whom rule the Empire. Getting noticed by higher classes isn't always a boon, adding a complication to the relationship. It drew me in, keeping me awake long into the night because I needed to know what happened to Hoà and if Quỳnh gets her revenge. The lives of the mortals and of the mindships can be complicated, especially if Quỳnh doesn't expect to survive it. Justice can still be found, but it doesn't always look the way it is planned.

Buy A Fire Born of Exile at Amazon

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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