Conclusion to Leith's remarkable fantasy trilogy (The Company of Glass, 1999; The Riddled Night, 2000) about the magical land of Everien, previously a battleground between various barbarian tribes and the Pharician Empire, once—in the distant past, or the far future—home to a culture of astounding complexity and accomplishments, now carved into isolated territorial blocks (time runs at different rates within each block) by the time-serpent unleashed by Jaya Paradox. Created by the Everiens to confine the time-serpent and its attendant monsters, Jaya was also once the Sekk, Night, hated and reviled for her ability to enslave entire armies. Warrior Tarquin, weary of pursuing Jaya, gets eaten by the magical steed, Ice, and thereby acquires the horse's ability to move through time. Warrior-heiress Istar discovers that the bones of her beloved, the triple-bodied birdman Eteltar, can form magical bridges between Everien's sundered blocks of time. The time-serpent wants to gain the ability to reproduce, even though its wormlike offspring have already parasitized the evil schemer Grietar. (All this barely scratches the surface.) Can anyone, characters or readers, add it up? Well, key will be Jaya's ability to decipher the program codes that determine the shape of reality. And yes, mostly—and perhaps amazingly—it does make sense.
Again, ferociously inventive and stunningly original; better still, Leith's willing and eager to tackle the repercussions. Though newcomers won't want to start here, readers who've followed Leith through the two previous fascinating, hypercomplicated, multidimensional puzzle-boxes will be delighted.