There is a tapestry, on the 108th floor of the Librarium, that tells of a great battle, the Battle of Isenfier, that is taking place on a distant planet: Earth. The battle is between the Ix- pure, negative fain (spirit) and the dragons, magnificent creatures of might and power. But they are not what is important- for also on the Tapestry are several humans. Two couples standing together, and a girl with wings holding a small clay dragon. These people are alive and inhabit Co:pern:ica. Some of them do not know each other, but they will all come together to save the dragons from the Ix.
I should probably give a quick tour of where Fire World is set. Co:pern:ica is a distant planet inhabited by humans, Firebirds, magnificent, colourful, mysterious birds, and imagineer:ed (mentally engineered) katts. Nobody knows what happened to the many animals that once inhabited Co:pern:ica, but an occurrence many spins (years) ago suggests they were wiped away to create enough auma (creative energy) for humans to imagineer to excess. The people are ruled by the Aunts, mid-wife like people, who help couples to commingle and create children, who are in turn governed by the Higher, a mysterious force whose presence is directly linked with the Fire birds.
David, the 12 year-old son of Harlan and Eliza Merriman, is having disturbed sleep. He has been taken into the care of Thorren Stromberg, who recorded something unseen happen: three Firebirds descended upon him to close a time-rift which, it seems, has intent for David. Stromberg refers David to the Librarium, a huge building filled with books, where he can be watched in peace, away from the prying eyes of the Aunts. There he meets Rosa, a girl his age, and together they uncover the secrets of the Librarium as well as their futures…and thus Fire World begins.
There is a certain apprehensiveness that you can get leading up to the publication of a book you have been dying to read for ages, it seems. I’m sure you know what I mean. I think every book-lover has experienced this. I was, however, slightly more nervous before reading Fire World. I follow Chris d’Lacey’s blog and numerous times he has mentioned the fact that Fire World is set in a type of parallel universe to the previous books in the Last Dragon Chronicles, albeit with the same essence of the characters. I was not certain what effect this would have. While I trust d’Lacey enough to know he couldn’t do a bad job, I was also not sure how good Fire World was going to be.
I shouldn’t have worried. It’s very much as he says- the same characters in a different situation. And for someone who really enjoyed reading the Last Dragon Chronicles, it was like an adventure finding all the references to the parallel universe/world in which the novels 1-5 have been set (Earth, as opposed to Co:pern:ica, the stage on which Fire World is set). Fans will love rediscovering Liz, Lucy, David, Tam, Zanna (and for those who don’t know what those names mean, I suggest you start by reading book one, The Fire Within), and I’m sure you’ll love how Chris d’Lacey has re-imagined (or should that be ‘re:imagineer:ed’?) them from his previous novels. That being said, I also believe Fire World is a completely capable stand-alone novel, and if you haven’t read any of the previous novels, it might be interesting to start with Fire World as a sort of prequel novel to the series to foreshadow events.
Probably the highlight of Fire World is how Chris d’Lacey manages to expand the universe the novels are set in. The new world of Co:pern:ica is a great setting, full of wonderful new ideas such as imagineering and Aunts; resonating with science-fiction cleanliness but also with underlying organic elements, if that makes sense. The first chapter is wonderfully filled with tension and mystery, setting expectations for the whole novel. I loved the Firebirds, a Phoenix-like species new to the series, and the Librarium, an old, huge, living building filled with books. Both were fascinating to read about, and ever so wonderful to picture!
Whilst Dark Fire was a far darker, grittier novel, Fire World returns to the not-quite-as-gritty roots. While I really enjoyed the darker twist in Dark Fire, which really changed the series from being preteen/teen novels into YA, I also enjoyed the elegant, ethereal feel of Fire World. Without a doubt, Fire World in one word is ethereal. It possesses that beautiful quality of feeling infinite and free.
There isn’t much to say, apart from that- the characters are just, as I said, reincarnations of those on Earth (this is done on purpose), and as I have undoubtedly said in previous reviews, I love the main characters to bits. They’re ever so British, and it’s impossible not to love the different relationships between them all (although I would have liked to see some more romance between David and Rosa…) and I particularly enjoyed Penny and Matthew’s friendship (which is hard to describe. I suggest you read the book!). The writing is as one comes to expect from an author who has written a multitude of books: good, precise, and great at explaining things. d’Lacey is almost scientific in the way he goes about describing all the fantastical elements, which is a unique contrasts to the mythical themes Fire World explores.
Once again, Chris d’Lacey manages to write a compelling novel which spans both soft sci-fi and mythical-dragony-fantasy following the loveable characters we were introduced to in The Fire Within. Anyone who enjoyed reading the previous novels will be absolutely thrilled when they discover all the references to books 1-5. Fire World is enthralling, ethereal and is a unique spin on the age-old belief in dragons…hrrr!