Serena’s Review: “Fevered Star”

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Book: “Fevered Star” by Rebecca Roanhorse

Publishing Info: Saga Press, April 2022

Where Did I Get this Book: audiobook from the library!

Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat

Book Description: The great city of Tova is shattered. The sun is held within the smothering grip of the Crow God’s eclipse, but a comet that marks the death of a ruler and heralds the rise of a new order is imminent.

The Meridian: a land where magic has been codified and the worship of gods suppressed. How do you live when legends come to life, and the faith you had is rewarded?

As sea captain Xiala is swept up in the chaos and currents of change, she finds an unexpected ally in the former Priest of Knives. For the Clan Matriarchs of Tova, tense alliances form as far-flung enemies gather and the war in the heavens is reflected upon the earth.

And for Serapio and Naranpa, both now living avatars, the struggle for free will and personhood in the face of destiny rages. How will Serapio stay human when he is steeped in prophecy and surrounded by those who desire only his power? Is there a future for Naranpa in a transformed Tova without her total destruction?

Previously Reviewed: “Black Sun”

Review: This one came out a few months ago, obviously, so it’s probably a bit surprising it took me this long to get to this. I loved the heck out of “Black Sun,” but I had a good reason for my delay! I listened to the original book as an audiobook with an excellent full cast of readers and I couldn’t bare to give up the opportunity of experiencing this book in the same format. Given the immense waitlist for the library’s audiobook copy, I wasn’t the only one with this plan. So here we are, months after its release, finally getting to this one!

The order of the last several centuries came smashing down in one violence-filled day. Now, gods walk the Earth and powerful forces vie to fill the void in power left after the destruction of Sun Priest and her order. But she has not gone. Instead, Naranpa finds herself filled with a powerful force of light, the dimetric opposition to Serapio’s Crow god and the enforced shadow over the sun. Xiala, adrift in the city, works to find her way back to Serapio after learning he survived what he thought was a suicide mission. But soon she, too, is caught up in forces more powerful than herself, and slowly she begins to understand that her past and future are fast heading towards a calamitous intersection.

So, it’s no surprise that I very much enjoyed this book. True, it did suffer a bit from “second book syndrome,” but we’ll get to that after we go through all the pros. For one thing, it’s always hard to start up a second book in a fantasy series one whole year after reading the first. There’s always a lot to catch up on. But Roanhorse does an excellent job of recapping the events of the first book without resorting to paragraphs of exposition. One way that she does this is by reintroducing the story in the first few chapters from characters who, while present in the first book, were definitely slotted to the second tier. Through their eyes, we see the cataclysmic events that occurred when Serapio called upon the Crow God and destroyed the priesthood.

I will say, that while I enjoyed getting more of an inside look into these other players and their interpretations of what is going on (as well as more and more layers involved in whose plan is really being followed here), I did miss getting to spend as much time with our initial three characters. Of them all, Naranpa definitely has the most storyline in this book. We see her not only have to come to grips with the presence of a godly power within her body, but we see her struggles to redefine her place in the world. The priesthood is gone, and her brother, a leader of the underworld of the city, has plans for her. Her journey is one of self-definition and, eventually, the realization that her vision of the future and the world is what made her unique as the high priestess, and it may be what is needed now.

Sadly, we see very little of Serapio. Mostly, he’s the man who wasn’t meant to live, and now that he finds himself occupying a time past the point of his own imagination, he, too, must redefine his own path. But for both Serapio and Naranpa, they are the avatars of gods with their own plans. So we see the struggle they each must balance between their own sense of duty and the futures they see outside of what their gods may have in mind.

We do get a fair amount from Xiala, which is great since she was my favorite character from the first book. But her story is really where we see the pitfalls of the second book thing coming into play. The biggest flaw of the book is that much of the story is window dressing (excellent and fascinating, but still window dressing) for getting our main character from one point to another point from which book three will surely jump forward. Xiala’s story is literally this: she spends 90% of the book travelling from point A to point B, all of it driven by factors around her and characters making decisions that force her hand. This leaves her in a very passive role, spending much of her time wishing she could reunite with and help Serapio and the rest of the time avoiding her past. Her story does pick up a bit towards the end, and I was pleased to find out more about what exactly happened to Xiala that left her an exile of her own people.

As I mentioned above, the story added a lot of layers of intrigue and shadowy players who have been moving pieces around in the background and only now are coming into the light. Honestly, I’m not sure I was able to fully keep track of it all. But I was having such a blast anyways that I didn’t really mind. This will likely be one of those things that will come down to retrospect: does the third book pull this all together in a way that makes this book more clear in hindsight? Or did I actually miss important things here, which might mean there was a slight lack of clarity here. Either way, I’m fully on board for book two and am very excited to see where our characters go from here. I do hope that Serapio and Xiala can be reunited though. My poor romantic heart was very sad to see zero scenes of them together in this book. Alas. Anyways, fans of the first book will surely be pleased with this one and should definitely check it out if they haven’t already!

Rating 9: While some of the pacing and lack of direct action speaks to “second book syndrome,” there was enough intrigue and character growth to leave this one as a very satisfying and enjoyable read.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Fevered Star” can be found, bizarrely, on this Goodreads lists: What Women Born in the 90’s Have Read in 2022

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