Audiobook Review: Into the Fire by Elizabeth Moon

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Into the Fire by Elizabeth Moon

Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 2.5 of 5 stars

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Book 2 of Vatta’s Peace

Publisher: Audible Studios (February 6, 2018)

Length: 14 hrs and 26 mins

Author Information: Website

Narrator: Brittany Pressley

Believe me, no one is more surprised and disappointed than I am in my rating. I loved the first book in the series, Cold Welcome. When I found out that Into the Fire was supposed to be a direct sequel, exploring the aftermath of Ky Vatta’s extraordinary tale of survival on an icy inhospitable island and her subsequent discovery of secret arctic facility, I was excited. However, it turned out to be very different; rather than carrying on with the adventure narrative, the story turned towards politics, history, and more family drama instead.

Following the events of Cold Welcome, Ky has returned to her home planet of Slotter Key, hoping to bring all her findings to light, including the truth of the assassination attempt on her life and the secret base she found on that remote island. But those who want to keep her quiet also have a long reach, and before long, Ky finds herself embroiled in a vast conspiracy against her family. All her carefully gathered evidence disappears, and the survivors she fought alongside with are captured, drugged, or silenced. Someone with immense power in her own government is hell bent on stopping her, even if it means going after those she cares about. Though the odds are not on her side, Ky must use all her remaining resources to outwit the plotters and expose the shadowy forces aligned against her.

While I doubt not having read Vatta’s War (Moon’s other series set in the same universe) impacted my enjoyment of Cold Welcome, something tells me the same cannot be said for Into the Fire. This sequel delves deeply into the Vatta family history, especially when it comes to the checkered past of Grace Vatta, Slotter Key’s Rector of Defense. There is clearly a bigger story here behind her relationship with Ky, which is only lightly covered here because the narrative seems to assume the reader is aware of all the details already. That said, I’m not holding this against the book for something I should have been prepared for, but for me it was still a disappointing change of pace following the action-oriented and suspenseful survival adventure that was the first book.

I was also left feeling a bit dissatisfied with the smaller role Ky had in this book. Not only do we shift the focus from a survival adventure to a more political and bureaucratic drama, our protagonist also relinquishes much of her page time so that the story could explore a few other characters like Grace and Stella instead. Though I enjoyed Moon’s characterizations for the most part, especially her strong and independent women, the plot’s themes of domestic matters and government conspiracies were still a far cry from the heart-stopping excitement I felt from reading Cold Welcome. In truth, I spent of most of the book trying to stay focused, an effort made harder by the fact I found some of the plot threads confusing and difficult to follow.

That said, Into the Fire is not a bad book; it was simply not at all what I expected, though this is through no fault of the novel or the author. There’s still plenty of suspense to be had, but rather than your hectic space battles and harrowing tales of survival, we’re dealing with action and drama set in a completely different arena. Those who have read Vatta’s War will probably appreciate this deeper look into the family history and relationships between Ky and those close to her, but if enjoyed Cold Welcome and were expecting this sequel to be similar, then you’ll be disappointed.

At the end of the day, I still want to read more by Elizabeth Moon because I think she’s a great writer with exceptional talent in characterization and story craft, but I confess that I was perhaps a bit too hasty in jumping into this book. For the next one I’ll probably wait to find out more about the story’s themes and topics before picking it up, or wait until I’ve gone back to read the first five books in Vatta’s War before continuing.

Audiobook Comments: Brittany Pressley reprises her role as narrator for the audio edition of this second installment of Vatta’s Peace, once again delivering a solid performance. While I did not enjoy the story of Into the Fire as much as I did Cold Welcome, Pressley’s narration itself was exemplary. In fact, this dialogue-heavy novel probably presented an even greater challenge than the first book, but she pulled it off flawlessly.

More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Cold Welcome (Book 1)

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18 Comments on “Audiobook Review: Into the Fire by Elizabeth Moon

  1. So, really, it’s not that you disliked this so much as it wasn’t focused on what you were hoping for – which is a shame and still disappointing after reading but, like you said, you’d read more of this author but just be more picky about what you choose to read.
    Makes sense.
    Lynn 😀

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  2. I’m always scared off by spin off series when I haven’t read the first one. I guess there is always going to be a lot of history that’s impossible to understand unless you’ve read the earlier books.

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  3. A great review, Mogsy. Interestingly, it’s exactly the same grumble Himself had with the book, after he read Cold Welcome and absolutely loved it. As for me… I’ve read the complete Vatta’s War series, so know Stella, Grace, MacRobert and the rest very well, so I am really enjoying catching up with them and the slow-burn tension of Ky returning after her terrible experiences in Cold Welcome – to a very dangerous, unpredictable landscape when she had expected to back in the safety of home. I haven’t quite finished it yet – but I am loving it. I fully accept, however, that it would be hard to work out exactly what was going on if you haven’t read the Vatta’s War boks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for letting me know that Himself also felt the same, I’m glad I wasn’t the only one! I’m glad I also got my issues with the book across clearly, I wasn’t sure if I was explaining well enough! So knowing he hit upon some of the same obstacles makes me feel slightly better about not loving this one as much as Cold Welcome.

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      • Yes – while he read the first book in Vatta’s War, which also focuses on Ky, he hasn’t read any of the others which is why I think he found Into the Fire such heavy-going.

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  4. I’m so sorry this disappointed you, especially since Cold Welcome is indeed a gripping, fast-paced story! It might be quite possible that your lack of knowledge of the back-story is responsible for your sense of frustration, because the segment where you express all your bafflement about the political situation on Slotter Key and the shady past of Aunt Grace, is the one that made me very excited to read this book – I love Grace as a character, and the political situation developed over the course of Vatta’s War is quite fascinating.
    That said, even book 2 in Vatta’s War was slightly underwhelming, so it might very well be that Moon suffers from Second Book Syndrome… 🙂

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  5. This is interesting because I have Cold Welcome and have been wanting to start it soon. Sorry to hear this one was disappointing, but from what you say it sounds like I’d feel the same way. I’ll probably still read Cold welcome because survival and secret arctic bases sound like my jam, ha ha, but maybe I’ll skip this one…

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  6. Elizabeth Moon seems to be cropping up in all my feeds and this series has definitely been stamped on my radar! I’ve been forewarned though that I may have to start with the earlier books to truly get the most enjoyment out of them – which seems to be the problem here! If only my book pile wasn’t so hideously big already! One day maybe 😀

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  7. Pingback: Mogsy’s Bookshelf Roundup: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

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