The Bossy Bookworm
Review of Swift the Storm, Fierce the Flame by Meg Long
The sequel to Long's young adult fantasy/science fiction debut Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves takes Remy and Sena to a storm-wracked planet where they search for allies and fight against the corrupt, greedy establishment that has risen to power.
Meg Long's first novel was Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves, a science fiction novel about Sena, a tough young female protagonist on a bitterly cold and unforgiving planet, and her desperate journey across the ice along with Iska, her formerly feral wolf, and a ragtag group of makeshift allies. The setting was powerful enough to feel like its own character, and I was immersed in Sena's story.
This sequel, Swift the Storm, Fierce the Flame, is told from the point of view of one of Sena's loyal friends from book one, the genetically modified fighter with heightened senses and abilities, Remy. Along with Sena and Iska, Remy crashes on her own home planet--and the group immediately finds itself under attack.
Years earlier, Remy failed to protect her young charge, and now she's determined to locate the grown-up young woman and secure her safety. But Remy's former partner Kiran, genetically engineered like Remy, betrayed Remy and threw her to the enemy when she last saw him. She's also on the hunt for him--and when she finds him, she's going to make him pay.
Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves offered high-stakes action, intrigue, shifting alliances, a powerful emotional arc, and more in a brutally cold, vividly described landscape.
I didn't feel the same connection to the characters in Swift the Storm, Fierce the Flame. The prospect of creating a powerful emotional arc for a brainwashed and artificially engineered Remy is inherently challenging, and I never felt invested in Remy or her concerns the way I did with Sena's desperate search for answers and an escape in book one. The storm-wracked, hot, jungle-filled planet of this book didn't feel as vividly wrought as the unforgivingly cruel ice of the first book, and I found myself missing the richness of that earlier world.
Much of the page time is spent on considering potential alliances, recounting past political and military motivations and moves, considering shifts in loyalty that may have occurred since Remy was last here, and explaining past events. All of this dramatically slowed the pacing of the story. One important plot point related to a key character revolves around a twist that feels unbelievable: a conveniently overlooked set of clues that is right under Remy's nose. And the interruptions that prevent Kiran from speaking about important context felt unlikely and eventually somewhat irritating in their frequency.
The book ends with indications that the fight for justice and the push to right wrongs is far from over, seemingly laying groundwork for a third book.
I received a prepublication edition of this book courtesy of St. Martin's Press, Wednesday Books, and NetGalley.
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The first book in this series from Meg Long was Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves.
You might like other young adult books I've reviewed on the site; you can check them out here.