Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Sangu Mandanna's A Spark of White Fire

"Your arrow was a spark," she replies," A spark of fire so hot and white that no one will be able to put it out. And even a spark of fire can consume an entire forest if it can jump from tree to tree. Watch, Esmae. Watch as one act leads to another and then to another after that. Watch the trees pass white flames on. Watch the forest burn."

OH.MY.GOD.  This book. This book!!!

My local library had a display of fairy tales and myths retold and I snagged this one solely because it was based on the Mahābhārata (a myth I'm totally unfamiliar with). Mandanna sets her retelling in space, merging the high drama of gods and royalty and intrigue with the sparkle, danger, and excitement of interstellar conflict.

I loved every page. (This will be a top read of 2019 for sure.)

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna
Sky Pony, 2018
Copy from library
Read Harder challenge

One of Book Riot's Read Harder 2019 challenges is to read a book of mythology or folklore, and I was excited to read a non-Western European one. For anyone unfamiliar with the Mahābhārata, there's no need to start googling, because Mandanna's story unfolds naturally and deliciously dramatic.

When Esmae interrupts a royal challenge to win an unbeatable, sentient warship, she sets in motion a preordained tragedy that she, and others, try to prevent. Her life changes, her past starts to impact her future, and everything she thought she understood about herself and her history must be questioned. (If you're not familiar with the Mahābhārata, don't research ahead of reading so as to not spoil yourself the gasp-worthy twists.)

What I loved most about this book was the deft way Mandanna blended space opera with myth. There are gods in this world, and rules as to how they work; there are lasers and sentient warships but also hand-to-hand combat with pre-Industrial weapons -- and clear rules as to why that is. Everything made sense and was well-grounded in a way that made diving into this universe effortless and inviting.

Every character was so real and full, both swirling with mythic drama and mundane details. The space/mythic urban locales were beautifully realized, and I was hanging on every word of this book. The sequel comes out in June and I. Cannot. Wait.


  1. I love fairy tale and myth retellings. This is totally new to me ... and fits so many of my reading likes and goals. Will see if I can track it down.

    1. I hope you can! My friend in Kansas City, MO said no library no local bookstore had it in stock. :(