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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars

TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 15 March 2010
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.
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on 1 March 2010
I have been waiting a year for the new Jackelian novel, and 'Secrets of the Fire Sea' doesn't disappoint - in fact, in many ways, this is the best novel of the four books in the series so far.

It's always great to find an author who can deftly bring extra dimensionality to their characters and Hunt manages it mainly with dialogue rather than the usual 'and the hero had blue eyes' stock descriptions.

The Fire Sea is really a murder mystery featuring a young Jackelian woman being brought up on the Black Isle of Jago, an ancient but rotting civilisation that survived the ice age by using a corrupted form of electricity to heat their underground cities. Throw in a detective parson and his steamman servant and the hoary old Commodore, and let the murderous intrigue begin.

As always, there's a breath-grabbing battle at the end of the book, which all goes to help fix Hunt's reputation as a leading fantasy writer, and his considerable talents are on display throughout the novel.

A hearty recommendation for any love of tremendous adventure stories or rocking fantasy novels.
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on 8 April 2010
With the release of Secrets of the Fire Sea, Stephen Hunt once again proves his talent. Like the previous three books in the series this one examines his intricately created world from yet another genre (The first three being fantasy, adventure and sci-fi) while remaining in the same reality. This time Hunt has delved into the mystery genre, with a Sherlock Holmes style read. The two investigative characters are Boxiron and Jethro Daunt, a mechomancers creation and a defrocked priest (Watson and Holmes). Cue in the death of a high ranking church official in a remote island in the middle of nowhere, and the scene is set for yet another fantastic journey of action and adventure.

With a fantastic writing style that will grip you from the first to the last page, I am glad to have given Stephen Hunt the chance and read this series. Definitely one of the best authors I have come across in the fantasy genre for quite a number of years.
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on 30 March 2010
The Jackelian fantasy novels are the best fantasy series I have ever read - non stop action since Court of the Air

I am not the most prolific of review writers, but Hunt's books are fast becoming the best fantasy series I have ever read.

As usual, the plot is gripping from the start, as you are plunged into the dangerous and bizarre underground existence of Jago, a land stranded in the middle of the Fire Sea. But fortunately, the country can be reached by the trusty commodore's submarine, as he comes to the rescue of a fellow Jackelian on the island, along with a group of well-rounded adventurers.

If I have any complaints its that I will now have to wait until next year for another Hunt novel to arrive. I can barely wait.

If you are an avid reader of the fantasy genre then this book is a must-have for your library!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 March 2012
The latest book from Stephen Hunt Secrets of the Firesea was in my opinion well worth the wait. As usual for his books the plot more twists and turns than you could imagine.
We get to see the continuation of some fantastic characters eg: the fabulous Commodore Black & Jethro Daunt.
The writing had a taste of Wodehouse, much like the earlier books. As usual Hunt brings his imagination bear on some interesting and unusual creatures such as the ab-locks and ursks.

Why only four stars? While I liked Secrets of the Firesea, it wasn't my favourite of the Hunt books. The pace was slower and far more localised than previous books and far too focused on code breaking.

Interesting Imaginative and well worth reading.


Product Description (from back of book)
Tale of high adventure and derring-do set in the same Victorian-style world as the acclaimed The Court of the Air and The Rise of the Iron Moon. The isolated island of Jago is the only place Hannah Conquest has ever known as home. Encircled by the magma ocean of the Fire Sea, it was once the last bastion of freedom when the world struggled under the tyranny of the Chimecan Empire during the age-long winter of the cold-time. But now this once-shining jewel of civilization faces an uncertain future as its inhabitants emigrate to greener climes, leaving the basalt plains and raging steam storms far behind them. For Hannah and her few friends, the streets of the island's last occupied underground city form a vast, near-deserted playground. But Hannah's carefree existence comes to an abrupt halt when her guardian, Archbishop Alice Gray, is brutally murdered in her own cathedral. Someone desperately wants to suppress a secret kept by the archbishop, and if the attempts on Hannah's own life are any indication, the killer believes that Alice passed the knowledge of it onto her ward before her saintly head was separated from her neck. But it soon becomes clear that there is more at stake than the life of one orphan. A deadly power struggle is brewing on Jago, involving rival factions in the senate and the island's most powerful trading partner. And it's beginning to look as if the deaths of Hannah's archaeologist parents shortly after her birth were very far from accidental. Soon the race is on for Hannah and her friends to unravel a chain of hidden riddles and follow them back to their source to save not just her own life, but her island home itself.
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on 26 March 2010
If you are a fan of Stephen Hunt's work, then you will completely
devour this novel. I've just completed reading Secrets of the Fire Sea
in a couple of days and it was a complete joy from start to finish, a
real page flipper and a remarkable act of creation - proof that Hunt
is still at the top of his game.

Secrets of the Fire Sea is an epic saga which nimbly leaps between
multiple plot lines to keep the tension mounting and the story rolling

Does anyone know when his next novel will be released?

Jeremy Brooks
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VINE VOICEon 5 April 2010
As a fan of Stephen's writing since he won his WH Smiths competition, its always been a pleasure to see what he comes up with next. Here in the fourth instalment of the Jackelian series you get a book unparalleled by anything that's gone before. The characterisation is unbelievable, the authors prose beautiful and above all the story arc just will blow the reader away as Stephen distracts with slight of hand wordplay. A cracking title and one that will make a good number of readers sit up and pay attention.
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on 19 March 2010
Stephen Hunt is one of the greatest new fantasy authors out there, hands down! I'm constantly blown away be his exquisite stories. I rarely ever buy new books (i always trade, get 2nd hand) but i have bought all of his. since i read The Court Of the Air i've been helplessly hooked
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on 8 March 2010
Rarely have I come across a fantasy novel as action packed as Secrets of the Fire Sea, the pacing is fast beyond belief and the characters are well-rounded and Hunt, as always, crams a lot of story and plot into a single novel, while featuring some of the same people from his earlier novels - notably Commodore Black. He also manages to bring to life some fascinating new ones, such as vicar turned detective Jethro Daunt and Boxiron, his trusty steam-man assistant (think a steam-driven nanotechnology-based life-form).

This time, the gang are off on an adventure outside the Jackelian kingdom, set on the evil isle of Jago, where high technology still exists, and the land has been protected from polar barbarians by a hard-to-navigate sea of volcanic magma.

As usual with the Jackelian series, the novel is expertly crafted for racheting up the action and tension. While all the books vary and are actually quite different between each other, I have yet to be disappointed with any of the novels in the series so far.

I would love to read more novels such as Secrets of the Fire Sea and February, when each new hardback comes out, is fast becoming my favourite time of the year.
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on 9 March 2010
Fantastical and completely enjoyable.

The latest novel in the Jackelian series, Secrets of the Fire Sea, is
an utter treat from start to finish. Poor old Hannah, a citizen of the
Jackelian kingdom, is marooned on the terrible Island of Jago - more
of a mini-continent really, after her university worker parents are
mysteriously killed trying to get home. She becomes a ward of the
Circlist church until her foster mother, the archbishop, is also
killed in strange circumstances.

Luckily, there are some heroes' a-come visiting from Jackals to help
her out, AKA the commodore and consulting detective Jethro Daunt (not
to mention his dangerous mechanical sidekick).

Lots of adventure ensues and the pages get turning at ever faster
rates with all the usual fantastical races, cities and plot twists
we've come to expect from this author.

Highly recommended for fans of Stephen Hunt's works and for all those
who love fast-paced tales of fantasy, adventure, and great story
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