Arthur C. Clarke's third law states "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." In the SOUL OF FIRE, Laura Anne Gilman closes the loop back upon itself, nestling the physics and technology of our world back into the fabric of the mystical. Science is magic and magic is science in The Portals
series, and this interconnected web of cause and effect makes each battle and each conflict leave a lasting mark on the world as we know it.
SOUL OF FIRE opens in amidst those consequences, as Jan and the supers prepare for a preternatural invasion. Gilman's knack for bringing magic down to the gritty, everyday details is in top form as Jan deals with the fallout from previous quest while trying to find her footing in the current one. I loved the foibles and weaknesses Gilman gives her supers. The kelpie who just can't help drowning humans ("it's a thing"), the curiosity and distractibility that makes super scouts as likely to go on spring break as to complete their assignment. Gilman's preternaturals draw the most from established stereotypes of a cold, rigid society that capable of great beauty but no creativity, but the way their nature impacts this world is fresh and interesting.
SOUL OF FIRE takes the foundation from book one and cracks GIlman's world wide open. Though there are still some nods to fairytale origins, the bulk of this world and the thrust of the plot are clearly going off book into new territory. One, ever complicated piece of realism that Gilman brings to her struggle is that every war has consequences and rarely is there a win without sacrifice. The human, super, and preter societies are colliding, and no matter the outcome, the world will never be the same.
Full review to follow.
Sexual Content: References to sex.