After the star comes the Fire! Blogger and author Alex J. Cavanaugh’s follow up to his debut sci-fi novel CassaStar has finally arrived for the masses to enjoy. Last year, Cavanaugh used the bloggersphere and social media to self-promote his first publishing venture to amazing results and fanfare. His sci-fi epic was covered by many of the web’s best blogs heavily coveted in the literary-related side of the blog world. Reviews were justifiably amazing and left readers begging for a sequel. The people wanted it and Cavanaugh delivered it. The result is CassaFire, a continuation of the sci-fi universe established in his first book.
Many years have passed since the Cassans were able to turn the tide in the Vindicarn War. The final battle’s hero Bryon, whose immense teleportation talents transcended those within his highly telepathic Cassan race, used his special abilities and extraordinary piloting capabilities to basically win the war on his own. While the Cassans overcame their foes, the rookie’s loss of his mentor and best friend, Bassa, during the interplanetary feud made victory only bittersweet.
Now considered a war hero and legend in his own time, the older Bryon kept his promise to Bassa by revoking his status as a fighter pilot and becoming a part of the Cassan exploration team to see the universe for more than just a battlefield. His current mission aboard the Rennather takes him to the planet of Tgren, where the ruins and technology of an unidentified alien race has been uncovered.
The Cassans arrive as guests to the Tgren race since their technology is far superior to the planet’s hosts. Tensions rise due to the Cassans ability of telepathy amongst their own people as well as maintain the means of intergalactic travel and being armed with heavy weaponry. The Tgrens are a more simple society, whose highest level of advancement lies in their fighter planes that only remain airborne within their planet’s atmosphere, like an F-15. While the Cassan scientific team works to decode the message of the mysterious alien machinery and establish the race’s origin, the Tgrens begrudgingly allow the Cassan to test members of their race for telepathic gifts as well.
Still the loner, Bryon detects a high level of telepathy within a female named Athee, whose test readings register at such an apex, that his top ranking officers take a special interested in her. This initiative makes tensions boil even higher since Athee is the Tgren Prefect’s niece and he is extremely cautious about the Cassans true intentions for her. Meanwhile, Bryon is ordered by his superiors to help harness her newly discovered gift completely against his will.
Bryon is still silently grieving over the loss of Bassa, even after all these years, so he remains as introverted as he was throughout CassaStar. But as beautiful as she is cunning, Athee is able to make a connection with him during their time together and a romance begins to blossom. This along with a new friendship formed with geeky yet dedicated scientist Mevine, who reveres Bryon for his legendary war hero status, a crack in the shell surrounding Bryon created by his inner conflict begins to form.
As the story progresses, more is learned about the alien race as well as the extent of Athee’s powers. The combination of both factors could not cause the end of their new relationship, but the end of the peace between the two races when a potential war begins to manifest on the horizon.
CassaFire is a successful book because it expands on the universe in Cassastar and does not attempt to replicate it. While CassaStar is like an advanced Wing Commander video game novelization with human relationships and a tad of Jedi-ism thrown in for good measure, CassaFire ditches the shoot ‘em up approach to be more reminiscent of anti-space battle science fiction. This opens the door wide open for Cavanaugh’s future expansion of his story’s world to many exciting opportunities and various situations to come. Some reviewers have compared it to Buck Rogers, which probably relates back to the old TV show’s second season aboard the exploration ship The Voyager, but only if that season was done the right way and did not become a silly bore.
Cavanaugh’s best inclusion this time around was the addition of Athee, the first meaningful female character in the universe. Since CassaStar’s characters were all male, except an early and brief appearance by Bryon’s sister, this really helped the change of pace in this sequel. A majority of that book’s fans clamored for a female protagonist and Cavanaugh did what anyone looking to be successful in literature should do: listen to the fans. He even takes the time to explain why there are no women in the Cassan military and how their special abilities differ from the males.
CassaFire is worth investing your time and money, but it is highly suggested that you read CassaStar first, if you haven’t already. While the book’s content is different than its predecessor, it is not a one-off book to indulge and doing so will leave you a bit lost. Plus, you’d being doing yourself a huge disservice by not reading Cavanaugh’s debut effort as well. This author really seems to be catching his stride and boasting more of his talent this time around. If you are looking for a fun and easy read that will entertain you with interesting characters, make sure to "Catch Fire" with CassaFire.
CassaFire is available now on Amazon as a paperback or an e-book. You can purchase it by clicking the link below and make sure to check out the author on his self-titled blog, Alex J. Cavanaugh.
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