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A Spark of White Fire

(The Celestial Trilogy #1)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  929 ratings  ·  277 reviews
Named one of the best 25 space opera books by BookRiot!

The first book in a scifi retelling of the Mahabrahata. When Esmae wins a contest of skill, she sets off events that trigger an inevitable and unwinnable war that pits her against the family she would give anything to return to.

In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships
Kindle Edition, 336 pages
Published September 11th 2018 by Sky Pony (first published September 4th 2018)
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Nadine Jones Not really. This is a space opera set in a fantasy world, not our world.

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Average rating 4.04  · 
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4.5 stars.

A Spark of White Fire is an example of political intrigue done right in YA, and one of the best YA books set in space I've ever read.

I don't know if it's right to call A Spark of White Fire "science fiction". This Mahabharata retelling is a genre-bending gem - which isn't as common as it should be in YA - because it's set in space, but it reads like a high fantasy novel.
There are gods, talking spaceships that are just the space version of fantasy talking dragons, a beautiful city float
CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨
Full review is up on my blog, The Quiet Pond.

My goodness, this book is brilliant. An effortless new all-time favourite book.

- The book follows Esmae, the twin of an exiled prince, who longs to reunite with her family and help them win back their kingdom. Until, of course, this plan falls apart and she's met with obstacles she could never have anticipated.
- This is the sort of s
Sangu Mandanna
Jun 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I'm totally biased, but I love this book. I loved every minute of writing it and I can't wait for you guys to meet Esmae. I so, so hope you love this as much as I do. ...more
♠ TABI⁷ ♠
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
"Battles explode and then they end. Wars are always temporary. And the smoke and ashes they leave behind will blow away eventually."


This book was an unexpected epic saga of twisted politics, magical space wars, and much angst. To say I love this is a drastic understatement, okay, because I LOVE this. This is such a strong, well-balanced, cleverly plotted story that it just made my heart full of happiness. I live to read stories like this. I loved how this swept me up into an aesthetic wor
Remember all the times you watched the sky and saw the stars, thinking how cool it must be to live among them and then your science classes came and ruined all your dreams to dust? Well, fret not, because this book is an amazing blend of science and fantasy, set in space, has great characters and a thriller of a plot that makes you feel like you’re sitting at that space ride in your nearest planetarium but even better because it has a sequel!

Well, away from my meaningless rant, here’s what the b
✨    jamieson   ✨

sounds so good !!! keen as a bean for this one
Rylee Richard
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-star
This book was such a pleasant surprise!


Esmae is stuck living in the shadows of her world with so much to offer and yet her value is unnoticed. She’s a servant, with only a select few who know that she's a princess in hiding, and decides to claim her stake in the politically shifty landscape when she publicly wins a contest for the most powerful warship in existence. Tired of being undervalued, she enacts her plan to win back her brother’s crown and reclaim her place within the family who
Something you should know about me - I absolutely love and adore the Mahabharata since childhood. I've read so many versions of the epic by different authors in multiple languages and I keep continuing to do so even now. So, when I got to know about this book, I knew I was going to read it, despite the fact that I don't enjoy science fiction and never read books set in space. I just couldn't imagine not reading a YA novel based on the Mahabharata and I had very high expectations right from the b ...more
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 1018
I received an e-ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Review and blog tour can be found at 29/9 on *Milky Way of Books*

This story left me in a breathless heap of emotions, astonishment and fangirling. If this book doesn't get fanart then you're all doomed.

A world where sci-fi, fantasy, gods and kingdoms are living together is the themes in A spark of white fire. I would say that you take Game of Thrones, pull it into space, making it into a retelling of the Mahabrahata, and you ha
Kelly Brigid ♡
“Watch as one act leads to another after that. Watch the trees pass white flames on. Watch the forest burn.”

A Spark of White Fire reminds me of bacon with ice cream. A mixture of two incredible things that are shockingly even more pleasing when mixed together! I’ve never before had the great fortune of reading a novel that perfectly blends elements from so many genres in a seamless manner. The juxtaposition of Indian Mythology in a vivid outer space setting, stirred up with wonderful
Kal ★ Reader Voracious
Re-read in August 2019: I absolutely loved it more the second time, even though I knew it was going to break me and I am a blubbering mess.
"Your arrow was a spark. A spark of fire so hot and white that no one will be able to put it out. And even a spark of fire can consume an entire forest if it can jump from tree to tree...Watch as one act leads to another and then to another after that. Watch the trees pass white flames on. Watch the forest burn."
If you enjoy political intrigue, s
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dany by: Nandini Bharadwaj
“And so the House of Rey will crumble into a house of rage”

Wow! An amazing Desi space epic fantasy which is a mahabarata retelling too!

A no one , a pawn , when furious and ambitious has the capability to make the world burn. How much will she do , how far will she go ?

Esmae , with her tragic past and secretive abilities decides to get home and reuniting her family. Seemingly simple plan becomes really complicated with morally grey characters and hasty decisions.

Kali and Wychtstar were beautifull
A Spark of White Fire ★★★★★
A House of Rage and Sorrow ★★★★★

July 06, 2020: A Spark of White Fire is a Mahabharata (Indian mythology) inspired science fiction set in space that incorporates fantasy elements too. It follows Esmae, a young adult female who wants a family, her family, and walks on this path that then leads to all the bittersweet chaos in this galaxy where gods and mortals coexist and things are much more complex than they might seem.

Consider reading this review over on my blog!

laurel [the suspected bibliophile]
DNF at 20%

This is entirely a me issue.

I feel like this is probably a good book, but I'm just not feeling it right now.

I haven't snapped into the story, and while there are elements that make it different, there were a couple of scenes that just felt so YA cookie cutter (villain's son is a mysterious, broody boi with feelings who approaches MC heroine who is a god-touched hidden princess) that I'm just not interested.

Right now. That is the key phrase.

I might come back to this one, because the so
michelle (magical reads)
read on my blog

rep: ownvoices Indian-inspired world and characters; lesbian side character, bisexual side character

A Spark of White Fire was a bit of a surprise to me. I've been in such a reading rut, such that I reread books constantly and when I do read something new, I'm not entirely in love with it. However, this book escaped that luckily! You won't be able to put A Spark of White Fire down.

I leave the lonely dark of the shadows. I am in the light. Bow in hand. A pawn in a Warlords game.D
Natasha Ngan
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So grateful I got to read an early copy! This is a super addictive, captivating read. I love the way Sangu blends fantastical elements with sci-fi and the Indian mythology inspiration is rich and unique. A heroine you’ll root for from from page 1 and a fast-paced plot with so many twists and surprises. Loved it!!
Link to Twitter Thread Where I Talk About Book:

I can’t believe more people aren’t raving about this. It’s absolutely wonderful and I tore through it in three hours. It’s a Mahabharata-inspired space opera, but you don’t need any prior knowledge of Hindu myths to know what’s going on. As someone who grew up with the Mahabharata, I loved finding all the allusions and parallels - but also loved the surprise plot twists that diverged from the original. Just F

Despite being heavily influenced by the ancient epic Mahabharata and other Indian lore, there is nothing quite like Mandanna’s novel – A Spark of White Fire is an absolutely unique, genre-defying gamechanger in YA.

- Perfectly seamless blending of fantasy and science fiction elements!
- Intricately developed world-building nicely integrated with Indian mythology!
- Meddlesome gods and goddesses, and celestial weapons blessed by them!
- Flawed, morally ambiguous characters of color!
- Family complexit
*Source* Publisher
*Genre* Young Adult Fiction / Science Fiction / Space Opera
*Rating* 4.0


A Spark of White Fire, by author Sangu Mandanna, is the first chapter of a major new trilogy with everything you want: complicated family dynamics that could rip the universe asunder, exhilarating action aboard an epic warship, swoony romance that will have readers begging for more. The story itself was pitched as Red Rising meets An Ember in the Ashes. It is a multicultural YA space opera inspired
From the moment they walked in here, they saw only what they expected and missed the truth.
They saw the pawn.
And missed the queen.

✰✰✰ (more like 3.5 though)

A Spark of White Fire follows Esmae, a lost princess who is ready to reveal her true identify fighting for Titania, an unbeatable spacesip blessed by gods, and help his brother Alexi to win back his throne in Kali, which was stolen by their uncle Elvar.

Indial mythology in space + political intrigue? I was sold when I hear about it, and
Vicky Again
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wishlist
4 stars

Mandanna really does not beat around the bush, and I really appreciate that.

Right from the start you're thrust into the action and stakes, and although it was a little surprising and took a chapter or two to understand and get used to, it was so worth it and far better than the alternative info dump.

Although there's no formal prologue or introduction etc., it was easy to adapt to the idea of gods and the science fiction aspects, even as someone unfamiliar to the Indian mythology, which I
So the blurb calls this a sci-fi retelling of the Mahabharata. Some things to know:

—Don't get caught up in the “sci-fi” part of the description there. The author puts the setting in space with warships and spaceship kingdoms and apparently deems that Good Enough.

The fun little sci-fi details you always see in this genre aren't present here at all. There's a bit of genre bending going on I guess with the swords, etc making it feel more like a fantasy setting (although the explanation as to why t


I loved every aspect that there is in this novel!

The atmosphere of the world building is more than what I had anticipated, space opera with the blending of Indian mythology of Mahabharata. It was filled with vivid imagery. What blows me away is the mixture of modern technology, the presence of ships, advanced even for that matter. And the rich cultural beliefs and its weaponry choices. I adore the blending of both science fiction and fantasy in here.

The c
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
sangu mandanna, the entire book: yeah, alexi's gonna betray esmae
me: okay good i'm prepared
narrator's voice: she was not prepared

Rep: South Asian inspired characters and setting, bi side character, wlw (lesbian?) side character
KristynRene SwissCheese JellyBean
Edelweiss granted me this ARC in exchange for an honest review. And honest is what I will offer you.

4.999999999/5 Blueflower Jewel Stars

I fell in love with this story. And it utterly destroyed me.

And as the minutes tick down, the pieces move into place.
A usurper king.
A heroic exile.
A jealous prince.
An old warrior.
A cursed mother.
A war goddess.
And a girl.

Who knew such a girl would become A Spark of White Fire that would burn the whole world down? A girl who was just a pawn became a queen. An e
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You know, when I pick up a science fiction book, I'm typically not expecting Gods and swords and arrows and kingdoms and all things fantasy. And when I pick up a high fantasy, I'm typically not expecting people living permanently on spaceships and frequent interplanetary travel. These two things are very, very different, and I really wouldn't expect them to work out together, but in this case they totally did!!

The book opens with Esmae ready to enter a competition for the best warrior to win the
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Publishing can have a fairly short memory. If an author disappears for more than a year or two (and they’re not John Green), name recognition will go down, and it will likely be harder to sell more books, on top of whatever made it difficult to not follow the every year or every other year plan. I read Sangu Mandanna’s debut novel back in 2012, The Lost Girl, and I really liked it, but I honestly don’t remember anything about it. Don’t read too much into that, because it was six years ago, and I ...more
Sophie (RedheadReading)
The sweeping, mythology-inspired space opera I have always wanted! Absolutely gorgeous - the worlds, the gods, the very human emotions that lie at the heart and carry this plot forward. I adored Esmae as a main character. She's intelligent and fierce and deeply loving, which can both strengthen and blind her and that truly gripped my heart. Plus the role of gods and prophecy, truly reminded me of their presence in ancient epic and really added to the sense of tragedy/fate that swirled throughout ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)

"Your arrow was a spark," she replies," A spark of fire so hot and white that no one will be able to put it out. And even a spark of fire can consume an entire forest if it can jump from tree to tree. Watch, Esmae. Watch as one act leads to another and then to another after that. Watch the trees pass white flames on. Watch the forest burn."

OH.MY.GOD.  This book. This book!!!

My local library had a display of fairy tales and myths retold and I snagged this one solely because it was based on the Ma
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Originally posted as a bookstagram:

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna is a YA title inspired by the Mahabharata. It has a mix of space opera and fantasy, kingdoms built on spaceships, interplanetary travel, a sentient warhsip, meddlesome gods and goddesses, and political intrigue involving royal families. Its unique worldbuilding made the book such a fascinating read. It may sound like the story has a complex world but the writing is very accessible
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Sangu Mandanna was four years old when an elephant chased her down a forest road and she decided to write her first story about it. Seventeen years and many, many manuscripts later, she signed her first book deal. Sangu now lives in Norwich, a city in the east of England, with her husband and kids.

Other books in the series

The Celestial Trilogy (3 books)
  • A House of Rage and Sorrow (The Celestial Trilogy, #2)
  • A War of Swallowed Stars (Celestial Trilogy #3)

Articles featuring this book

Caroline Tung Richmond is an award-winning YA author and the program director of We Need Diverse Books. Run by authors, librarians,...
98 likes · 15 comments
“Do you know what happens when a pawn gets all the way across the board?
She becomes a queen.”
“Loyalty is not as black and white as you think.” 1 likes
More quotes…