14 June, 2010

(Combined) Review - The Burning Skies by David J. Williams

Seak's Intro -
This combined review has been in the works for some time now, actually since before EdifanoB started his own blog, Edi's Book Lighthouse, so without further ado, here's Edi's intro:

's Intro -
This is nothing new under the sun. Two guys decide to write a combined review. This is something new ..... for us. It is our debut. For the first time ever Seak and ediFanoB went into a huddle – virtually. Mails made it possible.
Enough chitchat! Before we go into details we proudly present our "victim.
Science fiction - 22nd century - Settlements on the moon - Space stations - Cyber space - Terrorism - Second book in the Autumn Rain series ...... This is (drum roll):

Burning Skies (2009) [US] [UK] by David J. Williams
Life as U.S. counterintelligence agent Clair Haskell once knew it is in tatters - her mission betrayed, her lover dead, and her memories of the past suspect. Worse, the defeat of the mysterious insurgent group known as Autumn Rain was not as complete as many believed.

It is quickly becoming clear that the group's ultimate goal is not simply to destroy the tenuous global alliances of the 22nd century - but to rule all of humanity. And they're starting with the violent destruction of the Net and the assassination of the U.S. President. Now it's up to Claire, with her ability to jack her brain into the systems of the enemy, to win this impossible war.
Battling ferociously across the Earth-Moon system, and navigating a complex world willed with both steadfast loyalists and ruthless traitors, Claire must be ready for the Rain's next move. But the true enemy may already be one step ahead of her."
Neither of us is either as talented as David J.Williams nor we are literary critics.
That means we can deliver only a whiff of the BURNING SKIES pace and atmosphere.
But we deliver you our honest impression of the book. We talk about things the three W's.
Come on you should know what does this means:
What = the story, Where = the world, Who = the characters
Finally we round off the picture with additional thoughts and er, er, er, a recommendation.

And now lift the curtain. and read the two two cents from Seak and ediFanoB:

What -The Story

BURNING SKIES continues where THE MIRRORED HEAVENS (Seak's review) ended. And David J. Williams is getting better which is a surprise because BURNING SKIES has been a great read. There is more action, more intrigues, more fights, more character insights. It is a gripping mix of brawn and brain. The twists and turns forced me to read several passages again. Who is friend or fiend? Who follows which plans? There is no time to stop and think about it because you have permanently fight for you live. You even don't know if your memories are real or just hacked by someone else. The story is told in present tense which intensify the story. The point of view changes often which can be a bit confusing at times. All in all it is an extraordinary good "middle" book of a series. It is even possible to read BURNING SKIES without know THE MIRRORED HEAVENS! But I highly, highly recommend to start with THE MIRRORED HEAVENS because it makes it easier to understand the story and it is an awesome read. Anyway I like to use pictures.

BURNING SKIES is like a roller coaster ride where you wear a helmet with no visor and you get permanently conflicting information of your surrounding and yourself. And during the ride you have to hit the bull's eye with darts. ATTENTION: Don't forget to breathe!

Loved the story especially the twists and turns that come out of nowhere. You're convinced that a character is on one side and suddenly he's on the other, but is he really? Who knows. The Burning Skies kept me guessing the whole time while surprising me constantly. I think Edi explains it best with the roller coaster simile...I forgot to breathe plenty of times.

The Characters


The paperback copy contains a page titled Dramatis Personae which shows the names and the aka of the main characters. I think you need it because David J Williams uses sometimes the first name or the last name or the aka for his persons. That makes it difficult to identify them during the faced paced action. Each of the main characters has his own background story and personality which makes them believable. I must say I have been fascinated by Claire Haskell aka Manilishi. Used by different parties, never sure about her own memories but intelligent. She is a highly skilled super-razor. what will be her fate?You never know who will survive. Survive as a human being or as a peace of software.

I really like Spencer for some reason. Maybe I relate to him the most. I love a story where the little is expected of a character, but he blows you away and overcomes the odds. I also can't get the scene out of my head of Linehan jumping through space without a suit on. That was just plain awesome and he's just plain crazy.

What's great is that you're going back and forth between each of the characters so quickly that although it's harder to get to know them, the sense of mystery about each of them is kept up. The power-team of 3 (who came together in the first book) is also just cool. What can't they blow their way through?

The World

The world is a very real not-to-distant future. The idea behind the Zone is completely realistic, I mean, everything's already connected digitally and it's almost like the hackers (razers) have realistic magical powers to be able to quickly hack an attack before it comes at them.

The world building in general was a bit confusing for me because of the fast-paced nature of the story. I had a hard time visualizing the Europa platform especially during the huge fight scene that goes on for half the book.

I agree with Seak in this case. My paperback copy contains a picture of the EUROPA PLATFORM with explanations which is helpful. The interesting thing is that David J. Williams took a lot of things directly from NASA papers. Anyway I highly recommend to read his guest posts over at Mentatjack where the author explains parts of the technology.

David J Williams Guest Post1 - Space-elevator
David J Williams Guest Post 2 - O'Neill-cylinders
David J Williams Guest Post 3 - Project Orion
And of course you should not miss a visit of the Autumn Rain Trilogy site.

Additional thoughts


The whole concept of the series is great. From beginning to end BURNING SKIES (and also THE MIRRORED HEAVENS) is an unbelievable good mix of continuously action, technology and physics on a high level which catapults you though the story. Can't wait to read the conclusion of the series: THE MACHINERY. And this mix This perfect mix of physics, technology, and action continuously propels the action in Burning Skies, from start to finish.

I still think the razer/mech pairing is awesome and creates some interesting twists because of how much the razer knows that the mech just has to accept. I liked the idea of programmed memories and objectives. You have to start the mission before you even know what you're supposed to do. That was really interesting especially the way Williams worked that to further the plot.


Definitely recommended. I liked Burning Skies even more than The Mirrored Heavens. We got to see more of the characters' point of view and there was even more non-stop action... and it was really cool too. :) Note: the author mentions at the end of The Burning Skies that this book can be read without reading The Mirrored Heavens first.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

I don't have a rating system. I thought it would be a good idea to give word to one of the characters. And this is the message I received from Strom Carson (aka the Operative): "What the f*ck you want from me? You shouldn't trust Seak and ediFanoB. They are definitely members of Rain. Why the f*ck you hesitate to buy and read BURNING SKIES. We deliver you a hell of a ride. I promise you non-stop, breath taking action. We f*ck your brain until you no more longer know if you are male or female. Do you really exist? Or are you just a peace shit of software which easily can be deleted? There is only one way to find out: Read the AUTUMN RAIN trilogy!!!" I'm sorry for the rude remarks. You will understand when you read the books.

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher