Following Shadow (2015), the final entry in the innovative but opaque Pendulum trilogy.
Former London journalist Eric and Case, his alcoholic friend (now transformed into a small dragon), stumbled through a hidden doorway into Levaal, a land where gods, dragons, wizards, and other beings engage in a seemingly endless power struggle. Vous, lord of a dragon-shaped castle, has transformed himself into a sort of flower-power hippie god after—accidentally?—creating Shadow, a baffling and uncomprehending entity with weird powers…who resembles Eric. Vous’ daughter, Aziel, takes over the castle with plans to rule Levaal, though her sometime lover, Eric, has no stomach for lordship and wanders off. The dragons plot to free themselves from their prison in the sky—a sky made of glowing stone; some hunt humans for sport, others prefer to manipulate them. The vast Wall dividing Levaal North from South has fallen, allowing the humanoid haiyens to cross; one faction insists that humans able to adopt a Zen-like serenity will become invisible to the dragons; a second faction urges humans to fight them, a course most favor. The gods, personifications of things (Mountain, Tempest) or attributes (Valor, Wisdom), wake up and do, well, godlike but pointless deeds. All this isn’t the half of it. Elliott never stood a chance of controlling his creation and often substitutes explicit violence for narrative clarity. Still, he earns top marks for ingenuity and writes an attractively supple prose. While individual subplots often fascinate and beguile, even tenacious readers will look in vain for a unifying concept—witness the final scenes, which, while dazzling, bear little relation to anything that’s gone before.
Fans of the previous volumes won’t be disappointed; more skeptical readers can appreciate and admire Elliott’s inspired resourcefulness while believing nary a word.