BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Five school ‘children’ attempt to escape their school grounds and discover the full potential of their powers.
PROS: Strong philosophical discussions of different supernatural power paradigms, snappy/witty dialogue, intriguing main characters.
CONS: Suffers from being the middle book, last half if basically one long ‘chase’ sequence with little actual chasing.
BOTTOM LINE: Fugitives Of Chaos is a worthy addition to this series, especially if you enjoy Wright’s wide-ranging and deeply philosophical writing style.
Fugitives Of Chaos picks up where its predecessor, Orphans Of Chaos ends. The orphan’s first escape attempt has ended in failure and with their memories, and the knowledge of their powers, erased. The first part of the book is basically the orphans reawakening their memories and exploring their powers again. We also learn a little bit more about the cast of characters in charge of confining the orphans, with Mr. Glum (Grendel) playing a large role. I found the first 200 pages or so flew by, even if there wasn’t a lot of forward movement in the overall story. This is due in part to the characters themselves, all of whom are interesting. Amelia is a fourth-dimensional creature, Victor is very scientific and may be android of some sort, Vanity is able to discover secret passages anywhere, Colin is a psychic and Quentin is a warlock.
Add to that mix the fact that each orphan appears to be a teenager, but is actually much, much older, and Wright gives us some very interesting interaction between the characters. The latter part of the book has the orphans discussing their powers and becomes deeply philosophical about each paradigm that rules each power and how they cancel each other or how they can overcome each other, in some sort of cosmic game of rock-paper-sissors. All very interesting and with Wright’s added touch of humor and the interactions become funny and enjoyable to read. One are of interest to me was the fact that Amelia seems to be captured and tied-up a lot. It happened in the early book and then again in this one. This is very odd considering the apparent age of Amelia, teenager, with the almost blatent sexual overtones of the bondage situations. But then again, Amelia isn’t really a teenager, she just looks like one. Her situation here was just plain weird. I wasn’t sure how to feel towards what was going on. I’m wondering if John C. Wright’s conversion to Christianity affected these sections at all, or if they were written before said conversion. Just a passing question I had…
Unfortunately, Fugitives Of Chaos suffers somewhat from being the middle book of a series. Despite all that happens, the overall story just doesn’t advance that far. The first half is the orphans escape attempt and encounter with Grendel, while the last part is an extended chase sequence as the orphans attempt to stay ahead of their captors. Well, basically, there isn’t a lot of chasing going on, just a lot of evading, by ‘hiding’ on a ship, and talking. In the end, with the obligatory cliffhanger. Of course, its this cliffhanger where the story is just about to take off, and then it ends, unfortunately. I found myself cursing the publisher for not having the last book ready to go, or, alternately, the publisher for booksplitting if indeed any booksplitting was done.
As you can see, despite suffering from middle-book-itis, Fugitives Of Chaos still packed enough punch to have me wanting more, and now. I really want to see how this ends, with the beginning of the last book set to be a humdinger of scene. If you liked the first book, Fugitives won’t disappoint you and is a worthy entry in this entertaining series.