Spoilers for the first two books, because it can’t be otherwise.
I actually don’t think I can write an adequate review of this book without massive spoilers in general – and really, how do you review the third in a series of five, and do justice to it and the characters and everything else? So why am I writing a review? – mostly because I just want to note having read it, and remind people that THEY SHOULD READ THE SERIES.
This series is monumental, and much as I want to rush through and devour the last two I think it is a good idea that I leave a little time between them. Without that space I would just fall into Gwyneth Jones’ world and be lost for a while. And I’m not sure that would be entirely healthy, because being like Fiorinda, Ax and Sage is not a healthy place to be. Fi is suffering in the aftermath of the death of Rufus O’Niall and the murky, difficult discovery/growth/development of her ?magical abilities (they’re definitely magical, but they’re also kinda maybe something else). Sage is in a weird place in the aftermath of Rufus’ death and his own experimentation with the Zen State, and is even more conflicted than Fi over the status of his relationship with the other two. And then there’s Ax, kinda caught between them and kinda leading them on, reluctant to use his political clout but desperate to change and improve things nonetheless.
This part of the epic is different from the others in being set in Mexico and America, which brings some large changes: for a start, the trio are popular but not idolised; feted but not mobbed. For another, the USA was not affected by the technological losses and massive shifts in attitude that impacted on the UK with Dissolution Summer and the internet viruses, so this feels a bit more familiar, a bit more ‘real life’. Which is actually a bit weird when you’re used to having the heroes in a recognisably other place. There are also more fractures between the central trio and their band, their merry band, of cohorts – understandable after a few years of high-stress, high-weird life.
Many things happen. There are tragedies, averted and not; there are adrenaline-laced adventures; there are still, reflective moments of contentment. Characters develop and some change a lot.
You have to read the first one, and then you’ll probably be hooked.