Midnight's Reviews > Fireheart

Fireheart by Gloria H. Giroux
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Aug 17, 11

bookshelves: put-aside

I love sci-fi and so, I was excited to read this book, especially when I saw that it was a long one. However, I have to say that I am quite disappointed with it.

It started out all right, even though there were a few info dumps that I skimmed over because honestly, they were a bit boring and confusing. The world building is a bit clumsy, I have to say, but the characters seemed interesting. In the beginning, I liked them both, they came off strong, smart and I could see a lot of potential in their story. Up until one of the characters, Commander Pyke, drastically changed 'overnight'. It turns out, he not only has severe anger management issues, but also is possibly bi-polar. In fact, I am quite sure that he is.

The book starts off with Pyke being sent to a remote planet where prisoners of the ongoing civil war are being held. He arrives with his ship, sees the terrible state of the prison and makes some good changes for the better of everyone. He treats his enemies with grudging respect, even. One of the prisoners, Vin-Chay, captures his attention. He offers him a deal, to be his 'companion' for the time being in exchange for some privileges. At first, Vin-Chay refuses, but afterwards, he agrees to the deal. They start off a tentative 'companionship' which boils down to conversation, logic-games and sex. It doesn't seem forced, however, as Vin-Chay had been given a fair choice to accept or refuse, with no repercussions.

Everything is fine, until one day Pyke receives an order to pack up, and dispose of all the prisoners before leaving the planet. He is shocked at that inhumane order and rallies for a 'better deal' - for prisoners to be either sent to the mines where they would shortly die, or be sold to slavery.

When the higher command goes along, he collects all the prisoners in the yard and relays the news. Then, he tells them two choose, either mines or slavery. And this is the exact moment when the book, and Pyke as a character, take a nosedive. When Vin-Chay chooses to go to the mines, Pyke refuses to accept and respect his choice and tells his sub-commanders to forcibly move him to the other group, so he could become a slave. Then, he proceeds to punch Vin-Chay for his angry retort, and generally acts like an asshole with too much power on his hands. But all right, I think, maybe it's a momentarily lapse in judgement, and he will later go back to being a good character.

If only. Pyke's character continues to get worse with every turn of the page.

He, of course, buys Vin-Chay and brings him home, as his slave. There, he lays down the law, basically saying that from now on, Vin-Chay is going to be a good little housewife and whore, and he better not try anything, or else…You get the idea. Not once does he show any compassion, or try to even understand the other man, not once does he try to put himself in the other's shoes. Vin-Chay is also a strong warrior, more than that, he is a Prince. Of course he isn't going to be happy or fucking grateful about his fabulous new life as some asshole's slave and housewife, and the mere fact that Pyke expects that is baffling.

Pyke basically went from being a reasonable, smart man that respected others, to a cruel, entitled asshole. He goes from being opposed to slavery one day, to forcing a man into it, and buying him, the next. Not only that, but he thinks that Vin-Chay should be grateful about his lot. Basically he is like, 'this is your new life, be happy it's this good and accept it!'. Wow, just wow. But wait, it gets better! Or worse, actually, a lot worse.

Time goes by and of course Vin-Chay is thinking of escape. He isn't just going to be happy playing house with some bastard who's also his enemy in war. Obviously. And who would? Only Pyke is too dumb to realize that, clearly. So, one day, Vin-Chay makes his escape attempt. I have to say, it is a pity that he didn't kill Pyke at this point, I would've cheered if he'd had. But no, he merely spikes Pyke's drink with some sort of sleeping draught. Pity.

When Pyke wakes and finds Vin-Chay gone, he flies into a blind rage (which has happened a few times before, too. He just goes crazy mad at the drop of a hat). He immediately goes to the only place where he thinks Vin-Chay could be - some neighborhood where other Osirans dwell, former slaves or what have you. There he finds their leader, but instead of being at least a little reasonable, all he does is threaten the man and his family, hell, the entire neighborhood, within an inch of their lives. He tells him to bring Vin-Chay back on a silver platter or else, he'd sic the army on them to leave nothing but rubble behind. Then he storms away and waits for his orders to be fullfilled.

Of course, this leader betrays Vin-Chay's trust and drags him back (with help of two others) to Pyke's place. Pyke gets angry again (big surprise there). He is mad that not only Vin-Chay escaped (how dare he not love the life of a slave!!) but also that the leader betrayed Vin-Chay (wtf, really? What did he expect after threatening to kill the man and his family?). So to kill two birds with one stone, and punish them both, he ties Vin-Chay to a bed and makes the leader watch as he (Pyke) lashes Vin-Chay (31 lash of a leather whip) until there's blood all over the place. Good times.

Then he leaves Vin-Chay to bleed to death, while he goes to cool off, or whatever. Oh boohoo, poor little Pyke, his life is so hard. Spare me. What an asshole, really. At this point, I already failed to see how there could possibly be a happily ever after for these two as a couple. It's just wrong on so many levels, I can't even put it to words. The only good ending I could see was with Pyke's dead or imprisoned and Vin-Chay back to his planet and family, in the arms of a worthy man. Not Pyke. Never Pyke.

So what do I do? Right, I scroll all the way down to read the ending where…what do you know, Vin-Chay is 'happy' with none other than Pyke. What the…I can't even. I honestly don't see any possible way for Pyke to ever redeem himself in this book, life, whatever. Not possible. He is an asshole with a capital A. I don't have anything positive to say about his character - he is a coward, entitled, power hungry and power abusive, he is plain old abuser with no respect for anyone but himself. It's his way or the highway, and he doesn't care about anything or anyone but himself. He is remarkably egoistic, more than that, he expects others to be grateful for the awful way he treats them. Awesome.

But I read on. After Vin-Chay manages to call the only friend he has (a priest, former slave released to 'freedom'), he passes out. The priest arrives, helps him and then contacts Pyke. Pyke gets home, and brings Vin-Chay to the hospital. Once Vin-Chay is released, Pyke calls up his old friend and basically burdens him with Vin-Chay, without any explanations to either man. He just expects everyone to do as he bids them, throws money on them and leaves for who knows how long because oh no, Pyke can't stand to look at the man who dared escaped slavery! He can't stand to live in that apartment either because Vin-Chay had the nerve to get lashed there and bleed all over the place, either. Poor Pyke, let's shed a tear for his tough life.

He is on his ship again, being his usual asshole-self, when the priest arrives to inquire about Vin-Chay (since the last time the man saw him, he was beaten half to death), and what does Pyke do? Why, he acts like a total asshole again and feels no pity for the man's agitation, no he enjoys it. Talk about being a sadist. This is where I start to wonder if maybe, Pyke is a sociopath.

So, this is page 218 of 649 pages and honestly, I am not sure if I want to read more. Such a disappointment, this book is turning out to be. A waste of time and money. I only wish there were more reviews before I bought it and started reading, so this is why I am leaving this review here for others to see.

I have to say, I can't see how Vin-Chay would willingly choose someone like Pyke, all things considered. He is a proud warrior, a strong man, a prince. Unless he also has a multiply personality disorder, it would be completely out of character for him. In fact, I'd expect him to kill Pyke the next time he saw the man, not swoon and 'fall in love' with his captor, abuser and torturer.

I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about abusive, self-entitled jerks with lack of respect and compassion for others, who despite all their continuos failures and bastardly acts, end up in gold with a great man on their arm, money, etc.
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