My favorite YA SF series has come to an excellent end.
The Great Guilds, fearing the loss of their control of the world of Dematr, have gathered their power and joined it with the relentless legions of the Empire. The full might of that host will fall upon the fortress city of Dorcastle. If Dorcastle falls, the revolt led by Master Mechanic Mari and Mage Alain will fail, and their world will soon descend into chaos.
Only Mari, believed to be the daughter of an ancient prophecy, can inspire the people and lead the defense of Dorcastle. The prophecy says she has a chance to win, but it doesn't say she will survive. Alain will stand by her, both willing to die for the other, but neither one knows if their sacrifices will mean victory.
As they battle the Imperial legions and see friends fall, Mari and Alain face their greatest challenges. And if they somehow win in the face of impossible odds, neither one can be certain what sort of world that victory will produce.
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Source: I received this book free in return for an honest review, courtesy of Audible Studios.
This is the 6th & final book in "The Pillars of Reality" series. Books 5 & 6 will remain available exclusively in audio until closer to the end of 2016, when the other formats will become available.
**This review contains spoilers for the previous book(s).**
Pushing play to start this book was difficult. On the one hand, after 5 books, I felt certain that I would love it and was anxious to find out what happened. But, on the other hand, as it is the last book I was reluctant to finish and be done.
To get it out of the way, the 2 issues I had with the book were: I was disappointed by the continued absence of many of my favorite characters for the majority of the book. And the central battle lasted way too long for me considering the lack of diversity in weapons, tactics, and participating characters.
That said, I was very happy with where he took these characters whom I've come to love.
I want to throw in some quick comments on something I haven't mentioned previously. Not only does this book have some seriously "strong" female characters at the forefront, but there are females throughout all levels of Mage, Mechanic, and Common societies, including at the very top. Although the elitist dystopian nature of this world means that women aren't completely safe from abuse & assault, there doesn't appear to be any sexism. Yet, this doesn't happen at the expense of the male characters. They are allowed to shine as well.
After 6 books, there's not much more that needs to be said about Alain & Mari. The book itself features a discussion about how far they've come in the past couple of years. While Mari has to put on her strong & hopeful face for everyone else, she is always able to share her true feelings & fears with Alain. And she has learned how to be what he needs as well. They are a couple who have pushed through all the problems that come from a union between two very different & damaged people and faced the worst the world can offer. I believe that there is nothing they can't handle together.
The supporting characters from the previous books were present only at the beginning and then in the final couple of hours. There were some really wonderful new ones added in this one, but we didn't get enough of most of them.
Another great beginning, with lots of emotion. As I said above, I struggled through the great big giant battle in the middle. (When reading a text copy, I usually skim those parts.) But, it was nice to have a train moment again.
All the major plot points are satisfactorily resolved. However, the ending is not the kind that ties everything up in a great big happy bow, but rather a more realistic one with compromises and an acknowledgement that there will always be smaller "storms" on the horizon. I really loved the last 2 chapters. They hit me straight in the feels.
The best part about the ending was the hints that there may be a related series some time in the future.
HIGHLIGHTS / CAUTIONS:
- Alain gets a letter.
- Someone unloads on Mari following a failed attack on her and she shoves his own guilt back in his face.
- Mari discovers Betsy and discusses her with Alain.
Totally excellent, as always / Speed = slow; I listened on 1.5 speed instead of my usual 1.25
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