The Providence of Fire, by Brian Staveley

Review copy provided by Tor Books.

This is the second book in a series. The first one, some of you will recall, was a bit disappointing in that it focused on the two brothers who were fairly standard fantasy novel archetypes and gave very little space to their sister who was a princess who was also Minister of Finance.

Well! You will be pleased to know that Adare, the princess in question, appears a great deal more in this book.

She is no longer Minister of Finance. She acts very little like a former Minister of Finance. I don’t really understand why Brian Staveley came up with a POV character who was Minister of Finance if he didn’t want to write about one.

Also in increased content over the previous book: torture. Lots and lots more torture. General misery, despair, and definitely torture.

Oh, and also phoneticized “peasant” dialect. You know, for the scum common people.


And yet I read this volume all the way through, so there have to be some good things about it. I was mostly invested in a handful of secondary characters, honestly, and the prose style is readable (when not doing phoneticized dialect), and I was hoping that the spoilerific means of getting from place to place would have some interesting stuff attached to it.

I’m not sure this is grimdark proper, but I suspect that people with a higher tolerance for grimdark than I have would enjoy it more.

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4 thoughts on “The Providence of Fire, by Brian Staveley

  1. The more I hear about this series, the more I think that it’s not right for me. Grimdark and torture and all that just isn’t my speed. (And I was willing to tolerate phoneticized dialect in Brian Jacques’ Redwall series because moles are adorable, but that’s basically my limit.) Are you reading any non-grimdark fantasy right now that you can recommend to your faithful followers?

    • Fantasy, let’s see. Robert Jackson Bennett’s _City of Stairs_ was creepy but not grimdark. I just read the ARC of Marie Brennan’s _Voyage of the Basilisk_, coming out in March (so the review will be timed to be around the release), and I like that a lot. I’m looking forward to the next Max Gladstone and the new Ben Aaronovitch (which latter is sitting on my to-read pile), so if you haven’t caught up on those, they’re definitely worth a look. I would say that Jo Walton’s _The Just City_ is both fantasy and science fiction, although it is not wholly typical of either, so if you’re looking for center-of-the-genre fantasy, maybe not that. Oh, and I have Adrian Tchaikovsky’s last book in his giant fantasy series also on my pile, so I have hopes that that will be satisfying.

      • Great suggestions–thank you! I’ve heard really good things about City of Stairs and Three Parts Dead, so they’re on my TBR. Marie Brennan’s A Memoir of Dragons is sitting on my desk right now, waiting for me to hurry up and have a little free time. (It’s been a rough wait, haha!) I haven’t read Ben Aaronovitch or Adrian Tchaikovsky yet, but their work sounds interesting, so I’ll definitely give them a try.

        • Or I could have called it “Marie Brennan’s A Natural History of Dragons,” which would have been correct and not made me sound like a doofus. *sigh*

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