Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Image Source: BookCloseOuts
Other Titles in Series: The House of Power, The Dark Planet
Overall- 94/100 or A
Synopsis: Atherton was once a magnificent three-tiered world, but few of its inhabitants know the truth of its dark origin: it is a giant man-made satellite, created as a refuge from a dying Earth. Now this strange place is torn apart—its there lands, formally separated by treacherous cliffs, have collapsed and collided. But a gifted climber and adventurous orphan boy, Edgar, is determined to discover the secret of Atherton’s survival, and he embarks on a life-or-death quest to find its mad maker.
Navigating Atherton’s chaos is nothing less than harrowing. At the center, a former paradise is sinking and flooding. At the perimeter, a monstrous force is on the attack. Trapped between are two peoples, once at war, who now must combat the new foe together. And underground, the world is only more sinister. Here, Edgar’s two friends, Samuel and Isabel, venture through dangerous realms, confronting deadly cave dwellers, rivers of fire, and waters of life.
Review: Rivers of Fire is the second installment of the Atherton Trilogy, and a truly gripping continuation of the events witnessed in the first book. Patrick Carman is an excellent storyteller, and his prowess has never fallen short—least of all now. If you are new to the series, or new to any of Carman’s work for that matter, prepare yourself for an epic ride of discovery and adventure.
The world of Atherton is on a course of revolutionary happenings: everything is about to change. Readers of Atherton will almost certainly welcome Rivers of Fire as a satisfactory sequel. Most of the leading aspects of the story-line have waxed in quality, such as the readability and originality. The lack of strong character development was a slight downfall (similar to the first installment), yet better than I expected. Each personality was certainly vibrant and believable, with a nice well-rounded feel. The highlight of Rivers of Fire, as with any of Carman’s books, was undoubtedly the spirit of adventure prevalent within a handful youthful protagonists. I am always enamored, riveted, and enthused by Carman’s knack for revitalizing the child within. Tween fantasy geared toward 5-6th graders is definitely something special.
In this thrilling fantasy, Patrick Carman also weaves a voice of wisdom into the plot with the character Wallace. This kind and gentle sheepherder guides to people of Atherton in their struggles, particularly in uniting the two societies of Tabletop and the Highlands. The sad fact that—Spoiler alert!—Wallace dies makes him an immediate icon for the entire series. He is one of the characters I look up to most, after Edgar of course. On pg. 202 you can discover one of my favorite ‘Wallace’ quotes:
You must know your enemies to overcome them. That is the path of peace for every person, and it comes only by doing, not by the study of those who are already doing.
To clarify the meaning a bit; Wallace was referring to one’s inner enemies. Knowing and coming to terms with your own faults is the only way to find true peace of mind. Am I sensing a few Buddhist vibes here? Wallace also emphasizes coming to terms with your enemies in your own way. Studying the endeavors of those who have already embarked on this journey is fine, but true peace only comes by finding out the secrets on your own. You must follow your own heart, not the hearts of others. Be a trailblazer and find what works best for YOU.
Rivers of Fire is all about two unlikely groups finding common ground and uniting together to face the greater threat. As Atherton finally settles, a new order arises. The people stand united as one civilization, and all past discrepancies are as good as forgotten. Indeed, one could say the Atherton series has reached its conclusion. But you couldn’t be further from the truth. The Dark Planet still retains its mysteries, and one book in the series remains. What happens next?