Second, and even more
bewildering, entry in the Pendulum trilogy (The Pilgrims, 2014).
This book picks up where the previous one left off—more or less. Apathetic London journalist Eric Albright, together with his only friend, Case, a chess-playing drunk, stumbled into Levaal, a land dominated by a huge, white, dragon-shaped castle, where they're called Pilgrims and have certain powers. The castle’s Lord Vous, through the agency of the Arch Mage, is on the verge of becoming a god. Somehow, Vous has created a being, the Shadow, which he fears. This powerful yet enigmatic Shadow wears Eric’s face and has the ability to manifest almost anywhere. Vous’ chief wizard, the Arch Mage, helped destroy the vast Wall dividing this part of Levaal from its southern counterpart, apparently so as to use the evil magic found there for his own purposes. Case finds his way into the skystone, where Vyin, a friendly dragon, transforms him into—something else. Many of the characters—by and large an ill-informed or unreliable bunch, though with a certain presence—converge, by accident or design, on a magical tower. The background features powerful, hostile dragons intent on escaping their ancient imprisonment, demonic Tormentors, various factions involved in a civil war and a (figurative) Pendulum’s existential swing. Elliott’s vision is highly inventive, and he writes attractively clear prose. Indeed, the individual parts fascinate and beguile, but even patient, attentive readers will find themselves groping to understand the overall concept.
The narrative terminates in what might be dubbed an
anti-cliffhanger: It just stops, and what it all adds up to, or where it’s
going, is anybody’s guess.