Through a strange turn of fate Terry Steward, born Terry Radnor, was in the right place at the right time to save the secret colony Maclairn from terrorists who would have destroyed its plan to spread advanced mind powers to Earth and the other worlds of humankind. Now with his own starship Estel, he sets out to further that plan by journeying from world to world, heralding the hopeful future about which he alone knows the full truth. Yet he is all too aware that Maclairn’s enemies still pose a threat, and that on Earth the persecution of people who develop such powers is increasing. Soon targeted by bounty hunters, Terry can see no way to combat a planet-wide conspiracy--nor does he guess that if he lives long enough, he is destined for an even greater role in human history than he has played as a defender of Maclairn's cause.
This is the second book in the Rising Flame series. The first, Defender of the Flame, should be read before this one, but these two can be read independently of the preceding Hidden Flame series, Stewards of the Flame and Promise of the Flame, which are set more than two centuries earlier.
About the Author
Sylvia Engdahl is the author of ten science fiction novels. She is best known for her traditionally-published Young Adult novels that are also enjoyed by adults. One of them, Enchantress from the Stars, was a Newbery Honor book, winner of the 2000 Phoenix Award of the Children's Literature Association, and a finalist for the 2002 Book Sense Book of the Year in the Rediscovery category. Her Children of the Star trilogy, originally written for teens, was republished as adult SF. Recently she has been writing independently-published novels for adults, the Hidden Flame dulogy and the RIsing Flame duology. Although all her novels take place in the distant future on hypothetical worlds and thus are categorized as science fiction, they are character-driven and are directed more to mainstream readers than to avid science fiction fans. Engdahl is a strong advocate of space colonization and has maintained a widely-read space section of her website for many years. She has also recently issued an updated edition of her 1974 nonfiction book The Planet-Girded Suns: The History of Human Thought About Extrasolar Worlds, which is focused on original research in primary sources of the 17th through early 20th centuries. She lives in Eugene, Oregon.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
As the story opens, we meet Terry Radnor who is using the name Terry Steward to protect himself from his many enemies. The reader is given the backstory on Terry, once a respected Fleet officer, who was gifted with extraordinary psi skills and had been trained on the planet of Maclairn, where a secret colony of people existed who encouraged psi skills. He was imprisoned on Ciencia for encouraging people to hope, hope for ending the repressive government rule that they lived under, to change the censorship laws, to live freely and develop their own psi skills. He had been arrested, jailed, escaped and while on his way back to Maclairn, had discovered that his passengers were terrorists bent on destroying that secret colony. With no real options, he crashed his ship, killing all the passengers and almost perishing himself. The Elders, aliens unknown to all but Terry, had saved his life and now he was free to travel in his spaceship Estel. Now, before Terry makes his permanent escape from the dreary, always overcast planet of Ciencia, he seeks out Alison Willard, the woman he loves. Together with Jon Darrow, a top-notch pilot, and Gwen Morrell, a maintenance engineer, they take flight to spread hope to other planets. The problem is, some people, particularly those in power, will do whatever they can to stop Terry. It doesn’t help that Terry broadcasts a message throughout Ciencia as they fly away to encourage dissent against the tyrannical government. Faking an accident in the hopes that their pursuers will think they all died, the small crew destroys the Bonanza, their temporary ship, board the Estel, and head into deep space. Using smuggling as their cover, Terry and the others visit various worlds to bring the future he foresaw to all humankind. That future? A time where the powers of the human mind are accepted by all, where once those abilities are fully developed by everybody, the oppressors will no longer be able to maintain their control. Herald of the Flame follows Terry as he travels to various planets, smuggling some interesting cargo, while he and the others hack the ‘net’ on these worlds to bring their message to the people. Messages soon go viral which is, of course, what they want, but it also brings out the government agents who will do anything to maintain power. Danger is in abundance, with many close escapes as well as tragedy for the crew. Although the ‘cool’ concepts in this book were fun, the real draw of this novel were the parallels it drew to today’s society. The whole idea of an oppressive government taking control seems all too real. At one point, Terry noted, “People sometimes vote away their own freedom...and I see nothing wrong in attempts to make them aware of that...people being harassed, even killed, because they believe unorthodox ideas…” (pg. 185) We also meet an ‘evolved’ Ku Klux Klan that has brought hate to a whole new level. What has happened through people’s complacency, and how Terry and his friends fight to right it, will have you turning pages quickly. Quill says: A futuristic ride that has many parallels in today’s society. This is a ‘thinking man’s’ science fiction book – the type we need more of today!