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Secrets of the Fire Sea
Jackelian Chronicles Book IV

by Stephen Hunt

     

It is good to know that at least one literary treat lies in wait every year—the latest Stephen Hunt novel!† This is the fourth book set in his quasi-Victorian steampunk world, and this time the action has shifted to the Island of Jago, set in a molten fiery sea.† Once a paradise where ursine humanoids lived in harmony with humans, it is now a shadow of its former self and home to only a few in one last underground city.† On the surface, dangerous wild creatures roam in search of their next meal, while below much politicking and scheming goes on.† It is home to young mathematical genius Hannah Conquest, whose life changes abruptly when her guardian, Archbishop Alice Gray, is murdered. Hannah must discover the secret Archbishop Gray was killed for before she is the next victim.

Not so much a whodunit as a hunt for a secret formula, this not only shares the same world as Huntís other work but also his towering imagination.† There is enough in here for a world of standard-sized fantasy doorstops, but he manages to fit it all into one moderately-sized book, which shows it can be done.† We get to meet up with some old friends such as Commodore Black and his trusty U-boat as well as getting to know a lot of new ones, although not so many that a list is needed to remember who they are (another bonus that bucks the trend).† This book also has much to say about what happens when gods are abandoned for science alone, about holy wars and the nature of belief but above all it is packed to the margins with adventure, plot twists and plenty of larger-than-life characters.† All in all, Huntís work probably ought to be available on prescription... hugely enjoyable!

The Book

Voyager (HarperCollins UK)
4 February 2010
Hardback
0007289634 / 9780007289639
Fantasy / Fantastic Location
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The Reviewer

Rachel A Hyde
Reviewed 2010
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