These Burning Stars

English language

Published Sept. 15, 2023 by Orbit.

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4 stars (3 reviews)

Jun Ironway—hacker, con artist, and occasional thief—has gotten her hands on a piece of contraband that could set her up for proof that implicates the powerful Nightfoot family in a planet-wide genocide seventy-five years ago. The Nightfoots control the precious sevite that fuels interplanetary travel through three star systems. And someone is sure to pay handsomely for anything that could break their hold.

Of course, anything valuable is also dangerous. The Kindom, the ruling power of the star systems, is inextricably tied up in the Nightfoots’ monopoly—and they can’t afford to let Jun expose the truth. They task two of their most brutal clerics with hunting her preternaturally stoic Chono, and brilliant hothead Esek, who also happens to be the heir to the Nightfoot empire.

But Chono and Esek are haunted in turn by a figure from their shared past, known only as Six. What Six truly wants is anyone’s …

3 editions

These Burning Stars

4 stars

A debut science fiction novel about secrets, genocide, and revenge.

I enjoyed all three point of view characters. Jun is a hacker with a secret past on the run. Esek is selfish, violent, and literally terrible, and yet she manages to be a captivating character. Chono is good-hearted and looks like a rule-following institutionalist, but her conflicting loyalties to people overrule her lawful tendencies. Chono and Esek are tied together by their relationships with Six, a mysterious figure who used to be a student with Chono; Esek spurning Six in the opening scene creates a feud that escalates out of control. I enjoyed the worldbuilding, but as you can see from this description, the heart of this book was in the relationships.

A content warning especially for genocide here. A good bit of the plot revolves around the Jeveni people; they were mostly killed on a small moon and the …

Intriguing space opera

4 stars

Not a perfect debut novel, but a solid and intriguing space opera, full of cruel, coward and calculating characters, even though one important part felt deja vu (a powerful family controls the production of the substance that enables space travel...). All in all, it was an enjoyable read.