“What is written comes to pass”—or does it?
In this trilogy closer, Sefia struggles to help Archer escape his destiny, written in the Book that records Kelanna’s history, past and future. Archer has been severely traumatized by his time as a candidate, when he was shaped by the secretive Guard into a human killing machine who would lead their unstoppable army to victory in the Red War, so it’s Sefia who doggedly works to “rewrit[e] the future.” Their doomed—maybe—love story plays out: against the backdrop of the Red War, as the Alliance engineered by the Guard grows ever closer to its goal; in tandem with outlaw Capt. Reed’s quest for immortality; alongside Eduoar’s escape from his former life as Lonely King of Deliene. Chee (The Speaker, 2017, etc.) keeps all her stories in balance, adding additional characters as they all converge toward a bloody, heartbreaking end. With an assurance that equals her sorcerer protagonist’s, Chee constantly interrogates her central question: “who controls the story.” At one point hers reaches the high-fantasy equivalent of The Monster at the End of This Book (though with significantly more elegance). Kelanna has racial diversity, but it is not racialized. Race is as unremarkable and nonlimiting as gender and sexuality, with brown, trans, nonbinary, queer, and cis female characters enjoying equal access to power and capacity for violence.
Thoroughly immersive, thoroughly satisfying. (map) (Fantasy. 12-adult)