2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Best in the series since "Court of the Air",
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Secrets of the Fire Sea (Hardcover)
This is the fourth book in Stephen Hunt's series about a far future world, dominated by the Kingdom of Jackals (the others were The Court of the Air, The Kingdom Beyond the Waves and The Rise of the Iron Moon. According to Hunt's website, he's writing a fifth, which may be called "Jack Cloudie".)
I'd unreservedly say that it's the best since the first one. Like "The Court of the Air" it concerns an orphan (Hannah) threatened by mysterious forces and trying to find the secret of her own history, on which her survival depends. This time, however, the Court doesn't hover in the background (it was destroyed by alien invaders in the last book). This time, too, unlike in the last two volumes, the action is relatively focused, taking place mostly on the distant, arctic island of Jago, where a decaying civilization clings on, living underground and besieged by "monsters". How this came about, and what the monsters really are, are two of the secrets that Hannah discovers. This focus makes it a more satisfying (and credible - for certain values of credible!) book, as does the fact that neither the planet nor the Kingdom of Jackals are overrun or threatened with destruction by evil alien forces (I was beginning to wonder how many times that could happen and leave any semblance of normality...)
This book is pretty much standalone, though my favourite character from the earlier books, the swaggering, self-pitying submariner Commodore Black, reappears (nobody else puts in more than a brief appearance). To get the flavour of Hunt's fantastic world, you might be best reading "The Court of the Air" first, but it's not really necessary.
What else? We get appearances by the god known as Badger-Headed Joseph and learn a lot about the Circlist church which had featured before - it turns out to be a rather dour, rationalist sect that wages an endless struggle against faith.
Now eagerly awaiting Jack Cloudie.