cover image The Providence of Fire

The Providence of Fire

Brian Staveley. Tor, $27.99 (608p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3641-5

Three long-separated children of a murdered emperor scramble to secure allies in this sprawling sequel to 2014’s The Emperor’s Blades. Adare, having mistakenly persecuted the Church of Intarra, identifies the true leader of the coup and flees to recruit the religious exiles. Elite soldier Valyn, saving his older brother from a massacre, plots a campaign to cross steppes teeming with barbarian Urghul horse riders, hoping to find and execute a murderer. Kaden, still struggling with the monastic training that allows him to use an ancient system of teleport gates, discovers that the legendary gate-builders and foes of humanity are alive and taking part in human affairs. As are the gods, personally. Staveley nicely complicates the moral scheme with plausible-sounding villains and shaky political alliances, but the appearance of immortals and legends threatens to drown out his mortal protagonists, and the realizations and reversals seem to stem from plot needs more than character development. (Jan.)