In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back.
Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali.
It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart.
Inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories, A Spark of White Fire is a lush, sweeping space opera about family, curses, and the endless battle between jealousy and love.
You know, when I pick up a science fiction book, I’m typically not expecting Gods and swords and arrows and kingdoms and all things fantasy. And when I pick up a high fantasy, I’m typically not expecting people living permanently on spaceships and frequent interplanetary travel. These two things are very, very different, and I really wouldn’t expect them to work out together, but in this case they totally did!!
The book opens with Esmae ready to enter a competition for the best warrior to win the most powerful, impossible to defeat spaceship in the world. She plans to give this to her brother, who was wrongly exiled from his kingdom, and take back the throne from their cruel uncle.
The world building here was phenomenal! I loved reading about all the different planets and spaceships, as well as all the Gods and mythology. I’m not familiar with Indian myths/stories, which this book is based on, so I really enjoyed getting to discover them. The premise of fantastical elements in space also gave me Lunar Chronicles vibes, and that’s basically my favorite series in the universe so that should tell you how incredible this world was set up to be!
What I really loved was how unclear and morally grey everything is. At first everything seems very typical, wronged prince, lost princess, usurper king, etc, and parts of this premise definitely weren’t the most original, but as I got deeper into the story, it became less and less black and white and more and more grey. As everyone’s motives start to become less clear, Esmae as well as me while reading it started to question which side she should really be on: to whom she should be loyal to and why. I loved seeing the tangled web of politics play out, and being unsure for the entire novel about who I should really support.
I loved the characters as well! Esmae is such a fierce warrior, but also she just so desperately wants to have the family that she never got to have, and I really just wanted to reach into the book and give the girl a hug! There were a few times that I was kind of annoyed with her actions, and how determined she is to be independent and not play by the rules even if it was kind of stupid, but for the most part I really loved her.
The romance here was…unnecessary. It was between two people who are related to each other, and I guess technically they aren’t related to each other since one of them is adopted…but still. It seemed icky and I was like really why is this necessary? And even if they weren’t related I still didn’t get all the feels from the romance it was just kind of meh.
The ending though…the ending to this book was absolutely insane!! The whole book is leading up to the ending, leading up to what will happen when Esmae’s actions set off a chain of events like a spark of white fire (roll credits), and at the end I was just shook and shocked and owaijfeskld. I definitely didn’t see it coming and I feel betrayayed ahhh and I need to read the next book asap right now please.