Rating: ★ ★ ½ ☆ ☆
Date read: June 20 to 25, 2013
Read count: 1
“Still Searching for Red Herrings” could be a subtitle for this last set of the series.
If you’ve followed the journey this far, chances are you’re gonna like this last installment. It’s like the previous books, except faster paced and more dramatic. The other minor difference is there’s less character development. Since all the main players have already been introduced, the narrative is more plot driven, which is kind of the point since we all (or maybe just me by this time) want to get to the end (finally) and solve the heir of Novron mystery (once and for all).
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* * * * spoilers below * * * *
I liked the journey up until the end of Percepliquis, aka the mad-dashes of explanations spewing forth to quickly wrap up loose ends. Whether they do wrap them up or not…is a matter of opinion, which I think depends on the kind of fantasy you like and the storytelling elements that you enjoy.
So the mad-dashes try to tie up:
- the Horn of Gylindora
- Novron’s true lineage
- how Gaunt and Modina play into the conspiracies,
- the set-up leading to the final confrontation.
Oh, and also the all-seeing, all-knowing Patriarch’s true identity and how he plays into the conspiracy. Everything is all tangled up in a huge interconnecting wad of conspiracy.
The true heir of Novron is finally revealed to be Royce and we find out that Novron himself was elvish. It turns out the heir and the heir’s protector, Hadrian, have been together all this time, working odd jobs to prepare themselves for the final clash to save humanity. So this whole time, while everybody is running around trying to find him, the heir has been right in front of them. Well played? Nah. More like wild goose chase. Gaunt, as it turns out, is just a Nationalist diversion, Modina an Imperialist pawn. And Mercy? Arcadius’ ridiculous backup plan. And the Patriarch hears all and knows everything because he himself is omnipotent. Deus ex machina much?
Although the story lines tie up fairly well in the end, there are a few things that still bother me.
Things that still didn’t make much sense:
- Why Royce’s origin story is not explored, even after we learn he is the true heir. No explanation of parentage? Is he really the twin who lived? (Yes, I’m aware there’s a prequel series that might or might not answer these questions. The thing is… I probably won’t them.)
- Sending Royce on all those errands that almost got him killed is rather pointless and unnecessary in retrospect, doesn’t it? Sure, he needs the practice, but those missions came awfully close to killing him. Cutting it a little too close, no? He is after all humanity’s last hope.
- The purpose of Gwen’s death and how it played out. This seems too contrived. More needless diversion? Probably, seeing as how this series is full of them. What I still don’t understand is why she had to be assassinated? So Royce would kill Marius? He would have done that anyway, eventually.
- Arcadius bringing the Imperialists’ attention to Mercy, even though he’d been hiding her all these years. Of course they’d be suspicious of this seemingly peculiar nomination. Why wouldn’t they be? It would be stupid and uncharacteristic of them to not be suspicious.
- Alric died for nothing, didn’t he? Sacrificial lamb. Well, not really nothing. Arista got to rule in his death, which ties up the ending for their story arc.
- How humanity and the elves will go back to living “peacefully” on their respective sides of the river. The elves came close to decimating humanity, so I can’t see how both races will maintain a peace treaty. Yet again. Go back to the way things used to be? I don’t buy it. Retribution for war crimes would make more sense.
- Marius’s involvement in previous books. It all seems pointless in the end. The only purpose I see is needless plot expansion.
Too many red herrings, which drag out too many story arcs, needlessly. This series could have been wrapped up in 2 books, 3 at most. I got fed up right around book #4, during the “great” sea adventures, and then things didn’t improve much once the story took a detour into the jungle. Once again, I think this whole series could be a lot shorter and a whole lot better if it were shorter. What got to me were all the red herrings popping up at inconvenient times. Once I can see the author’s hand at work, like here how plots are purposely dragged out, much of the fun of reading is gone.