Title: Firing of the Crucible
Author: Michael E. Shaffer
Review: The opening to Firing of the Crucible was great, the novel opens with some strange space activity resulting in the emergence of a ship, through something like a wormhole. We are also introduced to Roh Ceeda who is piloting a ship through its Emergence because she can sense the Aether in space. She has the task of taking people in stasis to somewhere safe. The journey Roh Ceeda is taking the ship on is meant to be impossible but it turns out to be fairly easy. Ceeda learns about the Terran species (humans) and how they differ from her own species; the Dvane.
As we approach the ¼ mark of the novel we see Ceeda send an asteroid filled with hidden devices to Jupiter with a course to Earth in order to study the humans on the surface. We see the asteroid affect the human with a strange sickness; the illness only seem to affect Caucasian males killing millions in the process. Ceeda uses her connection to the Aether to access the minds of humans and open their minds to something mysterious. Most of the humans affecting by the space sickness then recover with many having some strange side-affects like increased speed, agility and strength but almost all have something wrong with their minds they hum to invisible music and often their minds drift, the human doctors are completely baffled by these strange events. I loved seeing the different perspectives between the Dvane and the human male who had been affected by the illness and recovered with these strange abilities.
As we cross the ¼ mark in the novel we see Ceeda shifting through the new human that survived the manipulation for a special human who can access the Aether. The unknown male we have been reading about maybe the one as he refers to a song like the Dvane reference. We get to see the unnamed male turn into a vigilante of sorts as he goes around hunting people. At this point in the novel I was sure this man is the one Ceeda is looking for especially after he mentions following the song. One thing I didn’t enjoy was the way religion specifically Islam is vilified when the main message of most religions is peace and acceptance.
As we approach the halfway mark in the novel I didn’t really have any idea where the novel was going initially I thought it would be an alien invasion and then maybe a story about mutated humans but despite this I was really enjoying the story. We also get to see the Government’s reaction to the masked vigilante and I found myself laughing at their reactions. While I was enjoying the story there were some chapters that just made no sense for example one chapter is told entirely from the point of view of a dolphin. I did enjoy the cat and mouse game between the vigilante and the Government as he constantly outsmarts them as they are trying to track and capture him (or they as the Government believes). I really loved the actions scenes as they are so detailed and vivid it feels like you are right there witnessing all the blood and gore up close. Ceeda learns the human or as she calls it Omega she has been looking for has been avoiding her and she must now work on gaining his trust. I loved watching the humans learn about the space virus and what it has been doing to people, we learn that a lot of soldier were infected and almost all have awoken with minimal problem but they have become a new race of super soldier that some immediately begin thinking on how to use them in battle.
As we cross into the second half of the novel we continue to follow our male vigilante as he targets gangs and people who are at the bottom of human society. Ceeda then finds the Omega they have been looking for which validate their plan. Phase 2 of the plan now involves them collecting the relevant humans in order to use their abilities to destroy the Easlank and regain their empire. I loved the way Shaffer looks at humanity through the eyes of an alien race. I also really loved the different perspectives and how different types of people are looking to use the infected people to their advantage.
As we approach the ¾ mark in the novel we see all the other Roh being brought out of stasis, at which point Kadiis begins to question Ceeda’s plan and authority. I liked this little introduction but I did feel it should have been introduced a little earlier to make the tension between the Roh crew members a little more believable but it doesn’t take away anything from the story. The Roh together have pinpointed several omega and are accessing their minds to understand and possibly manipulate them. It turns out that Ceeda’s omega has Dkar abilities meaning he can’t just use and sense Aether he can overlay his own song onto the Aether and force it to move to his path rather than a destined one.
As we cross into the final section of the novel I was very excited to see how Shaffer would end this novel as it is the first in a series and what we could look forward to seeing in the next book. We learn that the omega Ceeda is watching can feel her entering and exiting his mind and takes great pleasure in tormenting her silently with blood and torture. Ceeda afterwards is left shaken by this and despite fulling supporting the plan from the beginning is to doubt whether using the omegas is a good idea. The level of violence this particular omega uses is obscene at times and I found myself cringing especially when he takes to slicing off very valuable parts of the male anatomy. Watching the President and his aides try and track down the omega was laughable as he seems to always be ten steps ahead of them. While I liked the romantic scene between Ceeda and Kadiis I did feel it didn’t fit because it wasn’t really hinted at throughout the novel but it was exceptionally well written and very enjoyable to read.
The final 20 pages of this novel were great, Ceeda’s omega may be rarer than they first thought as he can communicate telepathically with Ceeda without her help. She and the other Roh thought it was impossible but they manage to have a complete transfer where they are both completely inside his mind. He also agrees to be brought aboard the ship shortly as they planned to let the omegas come willingly rather than force then. The final chapter was brilliant we finally learn the identities of the omegas as they are collected and brought to the ship readying to be informed of their mission now they have accepted it.
Overall, I really enjoyed Firing of the Crucible. The first half of the novel was a little slow despite the actions scenes and it does require a lot of brain power to process and understand all the information Shaffer is giving us but it is worth the wait as the ending of this novel was perfect and I can’t wait to read book two as soon as I can.
This book was sent to me for review consideration by the author
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