Baen, Jun 2001, 23.00, 277 pp.
The salvagers of the Henry Morton Stanley space ship land on the planet due to the town that looks like a rich find. Randy Queson, known for her ability to decide what has salvage value amidst tons of junk, finds the structure out of synchronization with what should be expected by this planet in which the colonists apparently abruptly left. Randy and crew soon learn why no humans are on site as vicious aliens, who enjoyed snacking on the settlers as part of their lunch, attack the Stanley crew. Randy and most of her mates escape, but the damage is astronomical and their creditors want payment right now.
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Desperate, the crew accepts a suicide mission offered by wealthy Norman Sanders. He will cover their debts and more if they follow the alleged route to the legendary Three Kings and return with the magi stones. Assuming that Sanders has provided them with the correct coordinates that he allegedly obtained from the lost Woodward venture, Randy wonders what they will find amidst the three planets that they seek, not yet knowing that aliens control their destination.
The sequel to BALSHAZZAR'S SERPENT, MELCHIOR'S FIRE is an exciting science fiction tale centering on a piratical crew struggling to survive among aliens and creditors. The story line is fun and filled with action, but is not very deep or loaded with strong characters. Instead, Jack L. Chalker's tale is for those readers who relish a non-stop adventure thriller that rides faster than the speed of light.
The review of this Book prepared by Harriet Klausner