The final part of Islington’s prodigious, sprawling fantasy trilogy (An Echo of Things To Come, 2017, etc.), in which the religious-philosophical-magical-temporal war reaches its conclusion.
Again Islington supplies a synopsis and glossary; they help, but not much. The Venerate, immortal shape-shifting wizards, wield a higher-order magic called kan, which emanates from the Darklands. However, they now serve an evil god and perhaps always have. Four friends have resolved to defeat them. Caeden, a Venerate who once did terrible wrongs in their service, bears the knowledge that he will, or already has, kill his friend and ally Davian. Davian, whose ability to use kan exceeds even Caeden's, becomes trapped in the past, where he must learn how to build kan-powered machines in order to escape. Asha channels the enormous power of her Essence, magic deriving from her personal life force, to maintain the Boundary confining the horrors of the Darklands; the heavy price she pays is entombment within a virtual-reality bubble. Wirr, now Prince Torin the Northwarden, must rally his people to hold off armies of religious fanatics and Darklands monsters long enough for the others to succeed. So what do we have here, a thaumaturgical-alchemical extravaganza? A teenage superpower fantasy to rival Marvel comics? What with the unflagging pace, so many moving parts, and so much intricate, lavish, and sometimes intimidating detail, it's nigh impossible to ascertain whether it all adds up. What matters is the author's unshakable conviction that it does—a conviction that eventually we come to share, if only by osmosis. One intractable flaw: Though there are so many immortals running around, we don't feel the weight of all their years and deeds. It's more like time's collapsed into a dimensionless present.
Fascinating, and not for the faint of heart.