I received a complimentary copy of Fire Dancer by Elizabeth Lowell in exchange for an honest review through Lola’s Blog Tours, to read and review after my participation in the blog tour for this title. Unfortunately, I let my winter schedule get out of hand, so this review is getting in just under the wire, but it was worth it! Thank you to all involved in affording me this opportunity. This has not swayed my opinion. My thoughts are my own and my review is honest. To check out my original post from the November tour, click here.
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About the Book
A Novel of the Concord
by Elizabeth Lowell
Re-released 10 November 2020
Genre: Science Fiction
Page Count: 227
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Rheba and Kirtin are the last survivors of their homeworld, at the edges of the Concord, forgotten but rich in history and traditions. Rheba is a fire dancer, able to focus and manipulate vast amounts of energy through discipline and motion and form. Kirtin is her protector and mentor, training her in these skills and knowing that one day these energies may grow to consume her unless she masters her own emotions and the power she derives from them.
In search of rumored other survivors like themselves, they set out amongst the worlds of the “civilized” Concord, finding that the presented superior and enlightened cultures they encounter conceal hypocrisies that assist even greater crimes. Entire civilizations built upon slavery and degradation are tolerated so long as they play the proper games of power and civility.
Led by the promise of knowledge regarding one of her kin, Rheba and Kirtin are brought to Loo, a planet ruled by a hereditary empire of slavers and decadents. There, both of them are consigned to slave pits beneath the gleaming cities and palaces of the surface. Amongst the forgotten and cast-off, Rheba and Kirtin find others like themselves, stolen or abandoned by their homeworlds and left to languish here, subject to labors and appetites and whims of the planet’s rulers.
But not everyone wants to remain a slave…
My Rating: 4 Stars
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Rheba is one of the last of her kind, a fire dancer from Deva, traversing the Cordcord with her protector Kirtin in a search for fellow survivors. Their journey takes them to the slave world Loo, and it’s here that Rheba’s powers really begin to take shape and her relationship with Kirtin blossoms. Can she control it? Can they escape? Are there others left?
This book is absolutely beautifully written. If Elizabeth Lowell decided to release a collection of poetry, I’m sure it would be just as well-received as her fiction novels. Sometimes I come across flowery prose writers who lose the plot in search of the perfect way to phrase each sentence, but that’s not the case here. Lowell’s writing is beauty with function, in perfect balance.
Rheba’s growth from a naïve and inexperienced girl into a wisened young woman is so natural and rewarding to read. This book is her story, the plot’s arc is her arc, and everyone else is just along for the ride (even the ones enslaving her.) Notable mentions go to Kirtin, of course, and to the snake Fssa, who provided a lot of much-needed humour in otherwise tense and dark moments.
Now, while the beautiful writing style of the prose in this book did not get in the way of the plot at all, sometimes the worldbuilding did. At 227 pages in standard print length, it’s already on the short side for science fiction, but at points it did feel like it could have been shorter. I’ll concede that perhaps what I’m feeling is a more dated way of writing the genre. Some of the reviews I’ve seen on Amazon are simply excited to see this book again, having read it in the 80s. That’s a decade or so before I started reading science fiction and fell in love with the genre.
Overall this was a very worth-while and enjoyable read, and I would encourage all fans of the genre, new and seasoned, to check out this title.
About the Author
Individually and with co-author/husband Evan Maxwell, Elizabeth Lowell has written seventy novels and one work of non-fiction. There are over 30 million copies of these books in print, as well as reprints in 30 foreign languages.
Writing as Ann Maxwell, she began her career in 1975 with a science fiction novel, CHANGE. Since then, seven of her nine science fiction novels have been recommended for the Science Fiction Writers of America Nebula Award; A DEAD GOD DANCING was nominated for what was then-called TABA (The American Book Award). After more than thirty years, these books are being brought back into print starting with the FIRE DANCER trilogy (FIRE DANCER, DANCER’S LUCK and DANCER’S ILLUSIONS) with TIMESHADOW RIDER following. The rest of her science fiction backlist will be published over the next two years.
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