Title: A Spark of White Fire (The Celestial Trilogy #1)
Author: Sangu Mandanna
Genre: Young adult sci-fi fantasy
Published: By Sky Pony Press on September 4th, 2018
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.
This was one of my highly anticipated reads because a sci-fi spin on a beloved and revered classic of Indian mythology really intrigued me. As the source material is vast in its scope, I was wondering how a trilogy was going to pay homage to that. I was also excited to buddy read it with one of my best bookish friends, Sahitya @ My World of Books, who grew up hearing stories of the Mahabharata in her childhood too.
It turns out that it did so much better than what I was expecting. I absolutely adored each and every one of the characters in this book. They were complex, multi-layered people with their own motivations. The clear divide between good and evil that existed in the Mahabharata was blurred wonderfully by the author to create realistic characters. By the time I finished the book, I was not sure which character I wanted to root for and I think that’s a clear indicator of how well the characters were portrayed. I also loved how some of the characters were a mix of two or several different characters in the original myth.
During the initial stages of the book, I had a hunch on what would transpire but the author took the story in a completely original path, which pleasantly surprised me. The twist at the climax genuinely shocked me. The tension was maintained very well throughout and kept me thoroughly engrossed. Mandanna also blended elements of science fiction and fantasy very well, creating a diverse universe where spaceships and gods co-existing made perfect sense. It was quite apparent that a lot of thought and careful research went into each and every aspect of the storytelling, all of which left me spellbound. I enjoyed this read from start to finish and cannot wait for the sequel to come out! The aspect I appreciated the most was how it took something so familiar to me, something I had grown up on and did something new and completely unexpected with it in a way I didn’t know I wanted more of until I picked this book up. This is #OwnVoices literature at its finest and all the different elements in it make my Indian heart so very happy to see on paper!
I would highly recommend this book to anyone craving for an excellent mythological retelling or an epic sci-fi/fantasy story. However, I will say that those familiar with the story of the Mahabharata will find this book a lot more interesting and less overwhelming. I would not recommend this book to a beginner in any of the genres mentioned. Listen to some North Indian classical music and pair it with some naan and curry while reading.
Sorry for not posting for the last 3 posting days on October! I was dealing with some personal problems and couldn’t find the time to blog. Anyone missed me in the time I was gone? Have you read this book? If so, what are your thoughts? Do you have any space opera recommendations for me? What book blended two different genres very well, according to you? Let me know in the comments section below.