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The Consuming Fire: The Interdependency #2    by John Scalzi order for
Consuming Fire
by John Scalzi
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2019 (2018)
Hardcover, Softcover, Paperback, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Consuming Fire follows The Collapsing Empire as the second in John Scalzi's extraordinary Interdependency trilogy, a far future Machiavellian space opera.

Discovery of the Flow, an extradimensional field that facilitated travel and trade between distant planets, led to the establishment of a space empire, the Interdependency, with its capital Hub at the center. Each planet (aside from one, End) needed others' resources for survival, hence an interdependency of powerful trading Houses (reminiscent of those in Dune).

After centuries of stability, the Flow is breaking down. Emperox Grayland has just ascended to the throne, a role she never expected, and now works hard to save as many of her people as she can from the imminent collapse of her empire and the probability of civil war, as planets are steadily isolated. Scientist Marce Claremont advises her on what's ahead, while continuing his research.

Foul-mouthed Kiva Lagos, daughter of an important merchant house, continues to play key roles as the plot thickens, as do the villains of the piece, the siblings of the rival House of Nohamapetan. The latter have learned what's ahead and plan to take control of the planet End and to move their power base there. In the meantime, they work against the Emperox.

Marce goes on quest to a system long abandoned when the Interdependency Flow stream collapsed and finds that humans have survived there - how? Attacks follow and Marce's survival is due to a very special ship and the most unusual AI that controls it. The episode ends with Marce's return; the Emperox's survival of another coup attempt - for now; Nohamapetan assets frozen; and some hope on the horizon.

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