Day of Fire, by Kathleen Nance (2176 # 2)

>> Wednesday, August 03, 2005

After I read the first book in Dorchester's 2176 series, The Legend of Banzai Maguire, I decided I'd wait until I had the entire series before I kept reading. I don't have Patti O'Shea's The Power of Two yet, but I just couldn't wait any longer and started book 2, Day of Fire, by new-to-me author Kathleen Nance. TPOT will be here in about 4 months (it's coming in my next M-Bag, which has just left the US), so I just need to pace myself with book # 3.

Canada: For over a century it's been closed off, quarantined. Now, in 2176, its people thrive. The country still needs peacekeepers, though-and the Mounties are there. Be It All. Do It All. Those are the high-tech police force's twin mottos. They're Day Daniels's mottos, too.

But things are heating up. Someone or something called the Shadow Voice is broadcasting treason, and Day's determined to stamp it out. Seeking the source of the threat, Day enters the techbar, Flash Point. There she meets Lian Firebird, an enigmatic government operative and shaman. He offers-no, insists-upon joining her trek to the legendary Citadel. Well, Day decides, Mounties work alone, but she can still do and be it all-even with the sexy hunk at her heels.
Even though I'm giving both a B+, I liked this one a bit more than Banzai. It's not quite an A read, mainly because of the last 100 or so pages, but certain things were better than the first book.

The main thing that worked better was the balance between the action and world-building on one side and the romance area on the other. In Banzai, I'd absolutely adored the former, but I'd thought the romance had felt a bit rushed, not that well-developed. In Day of Fire that wasn't a problem at all. In fact, I loved the action and world-building and the romance equally. Maybe the action was a little less fast-paced, but this is a pro for me. I'm not really into breakneck speed and prefer a more leisurely kind of book, one in which the romance has enough time and space to develop.

Day and Lian's relationship never feels rushed. It starts out slow, with a certain attraction they both (justifiedly) think they shouldn't really act on. But as they work together, two things happen. First, Nance ratchets up the tension between them quite well, so the sexual development of the relationship is pretty steamy and organic. There's one particular scene, when Lian is trying to stop Day's wolf from getting into a territorial fight with him (which means showing that wolf who the alpha male is), that had me going wow! And second, even more important, Day and Lian get to know each other and become friends, coming to trust each other more and more.

I just loved the way they worked together. Their working relationship perfectly reflected the development of their personal relationship. At first, a bit adversarial and lacking trust, on both sides. But as they start trusting each other personally, they start trusting each other professionally more and more, and they are soon working fully as partners.

I especially liked how Lian was perfectly confident in Day's capacity to take care of herself, a capacity that she had, completely. There's nothing of the damsel in distress in Day, she's a kick-ass heroine in every sense of the word, and this is something Lian is attracted to in her. Likewise, Day trusts Lian completely (after a couple of false starts) in his plague-hunter capacity.

This is related to the type of world Nance has created for this nove. It was so very refreshing to have a post-apocalyptic setting in which society hasn't reverted to Medieval mores. That's just so overdone! This version of 2176 Canada does show the effects of the devastating epidemics that devastated it in the past in certain things. For instance, Mounties like Day have the power to actually judge and sentence the people they arrest, though these people have the right to demand a conviction trial if they believe they were wrongfully arrested. Or, another for instance, people prefer not to gather in large groups. Restaurants tend to do take-out business, because people prefer not to stay there and eat. All stuff like this, much more fascinating than a return to aristocracy-rules, women-are-chattel mores (the author of the next book in the series, Liz Maverick, is going to have to convince me, LOL!)

I was absolutely fascinated by every detail in the world-building. There was more than enough to make it satisfying, but I still craved more details, more information about tangential details the author mentions in passing. A very good sign that Nance did a wonderful work with this.

I think I especially liked Day of Fire because I've long been wanting to read a romance novel in the vein of the movie Outbreak. This is not exactly it, but there was enough of it here.

As for the actual plot, I loved the combination of outdoor action and high-tech, and I had a wonderful time trying to figure out what was going on. And that final climax was really well done.

The main problem I had with Day of Fire, as I mentioned above, was the last part. I thought when the action moved to Shinook lands, a lot of the freshness and originality that characterized the rest of the book was lost. To make myself completely clear, this part of the book is definitely not bad, it's just not as good as the rest of it.

This series is shaping up to be excellent so far, I hope the other 3 books don't disappoint. Meanwhile, I'll be searching for Nance's backlist!

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