Despite being weaker than the first two books, Light of Impossible Stars is full of beauty and wonder; an enjoyable conclusion to an excellent overall story.
Given this is the final book in the Embers of War trilogy, I’ll keep the review relatively brief. It’s kinda difficult to mention the main plot points without giving away any spoilers!
Light of Impossible Stars is a satisfying conclusion to the Embers of War story and I was struck by this book in particular with how many thought provoking and beautiful passages there are, that make you sit back and think.
“…That’s why humans break. But life breaks us all.” It raised a face to the ceiling like a sunflower searching for the sun. “It’s the way we fix breaks that make us who we are.”
There is a lovely sentimental conversation that stands out about Christmas (a tradition/celebration long since forgotten about at the time of these events but relayed back by Trouble Dog) – a light in the middle of the darkest time, as it was centuries ago. This probably makes no sense to you if you haven’t read the book but I really appreciated those couple of pages particularly and wanted to highlight that I love a lot of these heart warming touches that Powell weaves into his stories.
His excellent knack for keeping you engaged in the story is evident throughout and he is able to build the world further and keep you curious – this is especially effective for the first two thirds of the book.
However, I did find for perhaps the final third that things felt rushed and lacked the finesse of the rest of the series (and first two thirds of this book.) I remember looking how close I was getting towards the end of the book and thinking, “Ok, how are we going to close this story off with so few pages remaining?” and although the actual plot was perfectly fine, the execution could have benefitted from another 50 or 100 pages.
I imagine the author didn’t want to make the book overly long (especially when one of the strengths of the first two books is that they are exciting and well developed without being a slog to get through) but I did think this one needed more time towards the finish line.
Without being too spoilery, there are a couple of threads that end too abruptly with convenient conclusions – or challenges that are solved too easily. It doesn’t take anything away from the book, and certainly not from the series as a whole but it did take me out of the immersion in those instances.
There is alot of significance given to a new character towards the end of the book who unfortunately we haven’t spent enough time with to care about. Although I can’t fault the trans representation, we needed to spend more time with the character earlier on to develop an attachment.
As always though, Powell’s imagination keeps you captivated and it goes without saying that a yearning for more depth in a couple of places is only due to enjoying the rest of the overall story so much.
As well as the imaginative storytelling and emotive moments, the author’s sense of humour is thinly interspersed in just the right amount to give comic relief when required and add to the story.
I could now do what I’d been built to do, and what I’d been yearning to do since I left the navy: go completely fucking apeshit.
The dialogue and characters are spot on as they are in Embers of War and Fleet of Knives, and if you’re a fan of Trouble Dog you’ll get more of her fantastic personality to fill you up here.
It’s also enjoyable seeing some of the main characters develop further and the sacrifices some of them have to make for the greater good – it’s not all rose tinted happily ever afters.
Personally, I think Nod is brilliant and the author should be commended for creating such a character (and its race, The Druff). Nod’s chapters are always a little different and I really enjoyed them (and getting to know the Druff race a little more).
Overall, Light of Impossible Stars is a really enjoyable read. It may be weaker overall than books one and two but it marks the conclusion of a trilogy I loved and has plenty to love in itself Plus, book one Embers of War for me was always going to take some beating – a book that will remain a favourite for a long time to come.
Low on fuel and hunted by the Fleet of Knives, the sentient warship Trouble Dog follows a series of clues that lead her to the Intrusion–an area of space where reality itself becomes unstable. But with human civilisation crumbling, what difference can one battered old ship have against an invincible armada?
Meanwhile, Cordelia Pa and her step-brother eke out their existence salvaging artefacts from an alien city. But when Cordelia starts hearing the city’s song in her head, strange things start happening around her. What extraordinary affinity does she have for this abandoned technology, and how can it possibly help the Trouble Dog?