Review: A WAR OF SWALLOWED STARS by Sangu Mandanna

Publisher: Sky Pony
Page Count: 288
Release Date: June 29th, 2021
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars – Liked It!

WARNING: Possible light spoilers ahead for earlier books in the series. You can check out review for those books here: A SPARK OF WHITE FIRE, A HOUSE OF RAGE AND SORROW

A War of Swallowed Stars

The great beast Sorsha has been loosed upon the galaxy and is slowly devouring one star at a time. With only weeks until she reaches inhabited space, the kingdom of Kali is desperate to find a way to defeat the ancient creature. But first, they have to find Princess Esmae, missing since the battle of Arcadia. Curses and prophecies being what they are, Esmae seems to be the best hope of saving the galaxy. But even if they do find a way to defeat Sorsha, Esmae’s twin brother Alex hasn’t given up his sights on the throne, and he’s willing to bring the war to Kali itself to take it.

A WAR OF SWALLOWED STARS is the conclusion to a mythological sci-fi trilogy that I fully recommend consuming in one go. The trilogy, which began with A SPARK OF WHITE FIRE, is an intricate web of family curses, reincarnations, and more betrayals than you can shake a stick at. The curses in particular have a sizeable impact on the plot, and the author doesn’t always take the time to remind you in book three what curse was revealed in book one that caused all this drama to begin with. Thankfully, reading all three books back to back isn’t a monumental task, as each book clocks in at under 350 pages (sometimes under 300).

Reading A WAR OF SWALLOWED STARS, like its predecessors, takes a certain kind of mindset to enjoy. Inspired in part by the Indian epic the Mahabharata, this series has its own kind of narrative logic that comes from being set in a universe where gods walk among mortals and play favorites. Expect plenty of dramatic declarations and curses, as well as some literal deus ex machinas. It’s the kind of story where, the fate of a kingdom can hang on a single arrow shot, where revenge comes from a reincarnated person avenging wrongs in their past life. And even though characters have vowed each other’s destruction, they’ll frequently find themselves in the same room to hash out family drama.

For the most part, this works, in part because the author has done a fairly good job of fleshing out the emotional beats between all the posturing. In this final installment, Esmae both faces her own flaws and grief, as well as calling out others who keep trying to blame her for their own choices. Occasionally the emotional beats felt slightly repetitive, but not enough to truly hamper my overall enjoyment.

THE CELESTIAL TRILOGY is an exciting mashup that happens all too rarely, where gods and magic don’t disappear simply because humanity has discovered space flight. With epic tragedy, talking spaceships, and star-swallowing monsters, A WAR OF SWALLOWED STARS is a great conclusion to this unique spin on Indian mythology.

Note: I was provided a free ARC by the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.

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