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Saturday, August 22, 2009

“Burning Skies” by David Williams (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Official David Williams Website
Order "Burning Skies" HERE
Read FBC Review of "Mirrored Heavens"

INTRODUCTION: Burning Skies is the 2nd book in the Autumn Rain Trilogy. The book in Trade paperback format has 398 pages with no chapters technically as the book is divided into 5 titled parts. It also has a diagram of the Europa platform & a Dramatis Personae flowchart diagram listing all the major personas & all the POV characters.

The book is in the third person format & the POV characters are Claire Haskell, Lyle Spencer, Seb Linehan, Leo Sarmax, Stefan Lynx & Storm Carson aka The Operative

Overview & Analysis:
"Burning Skies" is the second book in this futuristic SF geopolitical-thriller trilogy& while it is not the logical starting point for the series, David J. Williams does a remarkable job of bringing the reader up to speed with the events occurring in the previous book via a conversation between the central female protagonist & another character within the first 18 pages or so.

The book picks up within 4 days of the events in the previous book "Mirrored Heavens" & then doesn't waste any time before going back to its breakneck action sequences & battles.
The story begins with Claire Haskell examining her newfound status via the previous events 96 hours ago.

She then connects herself to neural form of the internet as developed in the future & visits a special prisoner to talk about certain things in her life. Lyle Spencer & Seb Linehan are awakened from a sleep of sorts & are surprised to see each other. Leo Saramax awakens to find himself being offered help of dubious origins by the Operative aka Strom Carson & also finds Stefan Lynx on the other end. Amidst all this confusion of awakening the action picks up as the Autumn Rain decide to up its antics a little by targeting both leaders of the US & Eurasian coalition.

The novel then just flies off with fast & multihued action sequences which are so vast & expeditious that it might take readers a while to take all of it in & understand truly what's going on. David J. Williams neither provides any respite to his characters from the action nor to his readers from the rapidly unfolding storyline. The author also has various POV shifts from characters & this can be a bit jarring for many readers & it was even so the case for me in the first book however the interest in the story pulled me through & I was acclimatized to this effect in this book so I found it to be a much easier read.

The world created by Mr. Williams is not so much explained at in the books but hinted at & unraveled a bit in the character conversations. However to find out truly what a magnificent background & world history David has created, one will have to read The World History, while to get a better idea of the various terms and objects described in the book a look HERE is warranted. After reading the character biographies & world scenarios given on his site, one can truly glimpse the hard work put in by the author in creating this world & the storyline along with it.

The negatives of this book for me were that since this is a futuristic book & with such intricate battle sequences it gets a little hard for the reader to understand what might be actually happening; also the constant switching of the POVs might disrupt the average reader from truly enjoying this story. I also strongly feel that this series is truly made for a visual medium rather than the print medium.

The entire plotline would translate beautifully on the screen as the viewer/reader could literally see what was happening rather than read & try to imagine what was written in the book & so the negatives mentioned above could be resolved simplistically as the phrase "A picture is worth a thousand words" comes to mind… if any Hollywood producer is reading this please do take up this series & think of it as a cross between The Matrix, Star Wars & The Spy game.

David J. Williams is a terrific writer & his vision is definitely one which is vastly different from what is being currently offered on the SF market scene. His books are the kinds which are truly made for the big screen so to speak & with the dramatic ending in the "Burning Skies" trust me you'll be shaking with anticipation for the 3rd book to see how it all ends.


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