Review: Demons of the Flame Sea by Jean Johnson
This review is a long time coming and apologies to the author for taking essentially 5 years to get to this book. Ms. Johnson writes fantasy books that are more plot driven than romance driven. I like this about her books. Specifically, I like book where the characters are in a new world and trying to build alliances as well as creating a new settlement.
This series is taking a bit of many things I like and blending it into a well written fantasy. It takes a little bit of Star Trek Next Generation (STNG) mixed with Fae lore and a bit of pioneer life and finally a touch of indigenous people's life to create a world for settlement and developing.
This book gives us different perspectives of colonization. Those that blend with the indigenous population and try not to harm them and contrasts it with those who just want to exploit the "savages". The Fae Rii are from another world and they intermingle with the Flame Sea people for forty years. It is with surprise that they learn the Efrijt from another world have tried to settle here in the past few years. The differences between the two people are vast. Fae Rii is the hypothetical and idealist STNG where there is as little contact with the people on the planet as possible. And if there is interaction, the prime directive is to avoid introducing new concepts and technology that could bring the indigenous too quickly to an advanced civilization. Nowhere in the history of Earth have I ever learned of people or civilizations following the STNG prime directive.
The Efrijt are ones who use the indigenous tribe for their gain. In some ways, it reminds me of the blood diamond mines of South Africa. The conditions are horrible and people are sickened by the mercury mining without protective wear. I am fascinated with how Ms. Johnson plays it out and shows the different viewpoints. What I'm more intrigued by is an observation of why the Efrijts are the way they are. It makes one wonder what their homeworld is like and what has been done to them that they behave in this brutally exploitive way.
Whilst fighting for the right of ownership aka protection of this planet, there is a subplot that is a bit concerning in ways. The indigenous people in the Flame Sea tribe look to the Fae Rii as gods. They want to worship them. In some ways this also parallels how humans view angels and possibly how nephilim are viewed here on Earth.
The pace of this story is slow as the forces play a kind of chess game to determine who will win the planet. The end of this book is a hook into the next book. There is no resolution at this time and it is iffy which way the story may go. This fantasy is recommended to readers who enjoy developing countries and pioneer like themes.
*provided by NetGalley