Three hundred people in a starship low on life support -- they must land fast, or they’ll run out of air. Captain Jesse Sanders is their only pilot. How can he choose where to locate their colony with no chance to explore the raw new world? How can he shuttle them all to the surface within a few short hours? And when the site proves less than adequate, how can he live with the knowledge that his own astrogation error was what got them into such a fix?
Isolated by choice on a world they have reached in secret, the colonists hope to establish a culture based on psi powers that can someday shape the future of humankind. If they don't starve first. And if they don't lose heart in the face of hardships beyond any they imagined. Jesse hasn't expected to be responsible for the settlement. Peter is the leader, the visionary on whose inspiration they all depend. But Peter has his hands full, not only with maintaining morale but with a grueling ordeal of his own. So the job of ensuring the colony's survival falls on Jesse. And in the end, he must stake his life in a desperate attempt to prevent the loss of all they have gained.
Although this is the second book in the Hidden Flame duology, it is an independent story that can stand alone -- the two novels are in many respects quite different. However, reading them in reverse order will affect some of the earlier book's suspense. Please note: Unlike some of Sylvia Engdahl’s previous novels, this is not a Young Adult book and is not appropriate for middle-school readers.
From the reviews:
“It is not necessary to read the first [book] in order to be enthralled by the second. . . . Engdahl’s gift is to make her characters seem comfortable and familiar to the reader, even though their circumstances are not. Although clearly a work of science fiction, the ideas and futuristic possibilities are disturbingly real and will remain with the reader long after they’ve finished the book.” —IndieReader Staff Review
“I think I actually like Promise of the Flame even more than Stewards of the Flame. In the first book, the idealist philosophy was created in opposition to the bounds of their society. However, in the sequel, the characters have to balance survival (short and long term) with these ideals. Definitely not an easy task.” —TCM Reviews
“Outsoars its predecessor. . . . As with all of Engdahl’s work, science-fiction fans will recognize the tropes she uses, but it is not just ‘for’ them, no more than the work of a great artist who happens to work in, say, ceramics is just for adepts of that medium. Engdahl has produced high-quality work over a forty-year period, but this is one of her finest achievements.” —Nicholas Birns (author of Understanding Anthony Powell)