Reviewed by: Amy
Rating (out of 5): 3.5 stars
Note: While this review will be spoiler free, it may reference previous events in the series.
When the Pressmen come to the Far Reaches looking to confiscate all the books so they can form their Universal Compendiums of Knowledge, librarian Ania seems to be the only holdout, wanting to protect the knowledge her books hold rather than give it up to some faceless group to decide what garners passing along to the masses.
Meanwhile Jorit, branded a thief, is looking for a way out of the Far Reaches, and teaming up with Ania seems to be the best option she has. While barricaded in the library, hiding from the Pressmen, Jorit and Ania discover a clock powered by a powerful jewel. Just when their time is up and their discovery by the Pressmen is near, they’re transported to the past. While there, they discover what has lead the Far Reaches to its current present, and hopefully helps them find a way to preserve the future.
The Fire Opal Mechanism very much reminded me of Rachel Caine’s The Great Library series with the idea of this great power, this kind of omniscient presence making decision for the populace as a whole.
Knowledge for all—and access for all to that knowledge—is an ideal concept, but it’s negated when that knowledge is controlled and parceled out by a single entity. When someone determines what it is, exactly, that people are allowed to read. Almost like pushing their own agenda in lieu of letting people decide for themselves.
It’s an interesting concept and, for the most part, Fran Wilde does a great job of exploring it within the confines of a rather short story. I just felt like there was a little bit lacking in regards to seeing how the past has influenced where the story begins in the present.
I haven’t read the first book in the series, and while this story certainly stands well on its own—no issues following along whatsoever—I feel like the connection between the books plays a much more intrinsic part of opening up the story and really appreciating what occurs here.
I’m very interested in giving the first book a read and putting the references together to form the whole picture. As it stands, I give Fran Wilde much credit for giving us such a contemplative story that asks readers to think about what they’re reading and maybe appreciating where it comes from just a little bit more.
Sexual content: None