light of impossible stars

Book Review: ‘Light of Impossible Stars’ by Gareth L Powell.

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light of impossible starsThis review of Light of Impossible Stars has been a long time in the writing.

I finished the book around the time my part of the world (the UK) was becoming conscious of Coronavirus. Since then, I’ve been obsessively checking the news, making myself paranoid by reading Twitter and generally finding comforts other than writing about books. My biggest pastime in recent weeks has been procrastination. But now I’d better crack on!

Light of Impossible Stars is the (probably) final book in the Embers of War trilogy. You should totally go and read the other two books that come before this one. I’ve handily reviewed them for you, here.

Just about every book, at the moment, is being touted as the perfect accompaniment to self-isolation. The extra time lockdown (may) frees up to rediscover life’s simple pleasures, is, perhaps, one small silver-lining of this hell in a handbasket we seem to have fallen into. I’m uncomfortable with invoking the world’s most serious crisis in decades as a great opportunity to read books, but if you do have a lot of time on your hands, the gentle humor of Powell’s writing and the life-affirming actions of his characters will keep you going for a while.

It’s always a little tricky reviewing final books in a trilogy. Readers of the first two books have probably already made up their minds, and newcomers to the series, definitely shouldn’t be reading than the end of this paragraph. Trust me, though. You won’t regret picking up the series.

Book 2 left the known universe in a precarious place: Caught between hungry void-traveling space dragons and a ruthless army of spaceship nannies, happy to kill anything if it keeps them out of a fight. Light of Impossible Stars offers a way out for the remainder of civilization that finds itself impotent against two undefeatable enemies.

“How?” you may ask. That, of course, is the crux of the story. The designers of the Fleet of Knives have hidden an escape route that manifests itself in the form of Cordelia Pa, a semi-homeless kid on a forgotten system of peculiar plate-shaped entities. Will Cordelia realize her destiny, or will she rebel against the role she was designed to play and the hope that she offers? As you might expect, Sal and the Trouble Dog are involved, as is the wisdom of the inscrutable Nod; one of SciFi’s finest creations.

I must confess, I found Light of Impossible Stars the weakest of the three books. This feels a little off to say, as the first two books are so magnificent, following them, was always going to be a tough ask. Characterization and Powell’s writing are still on point, but the story feels a little forced. Everything lines up a little too neatly for my liking.

Nevertheless, the overarching themes of personal choice and self-identity persist throughout. In that sense, this book is very much an Embers of War book. With this series, Powell has marked himself out a progressive forward-thinking author, who understands the myriad complexities of human nature and identity. The books are suffused with subtle humor and filled with compassion. I can’t wait to see what Powell produces next.

If you enjoyed this review, you can pick up a copy here, in the US, and here, in the UK.

You can check out some of my other book reviews, here.

Embers of War
The other books in the Embers of War Series

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to write this review.

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