This is a read that was in the queue for a while – I bought it on sale around the release of the newest movie. Yet, it was something I was considering reading so I went for it.
The trilogy started with Ordination and followed by Stillbright ends here. The looming threat of Braech’s followers is closing while followers of the Mother are recovering from the battle for Thornhurst.
By the battle’s end, the children of the corrupt Lionel Delondeur are prisoners of war and while they struggle to trust each other, it’s their armies that threaten the situation even more.
Along with those two, there are other visitors to Thornhurst: Allystaire’s sister and Garth, now her husband, along with the Iron Ravens. Cerisia. And, to my surprise, Rede.
The beginning takes a long time to deal with seeking a solution for Barony Delondeur and who of the two siblings would take the throne without causing even more damage. While that might sound like boring politics, the struggles around are ever-present as soldiers revolt against the pact Allystaire tries to forge.
In the meantime, there’s some development for Gideon who delves into mysteries of power and gods while getting some lessons from Allystaire and even others to not losing himself in it and to avoid doing something he might regret more than he’d be able to bear.
With the matters in Thornhurst settled, Allystaire creates a plan that would have the other Barons meet at the vineyards of Baron Innandan as guests of the only of them who ever tried to call for a peace council. Yet, Landen and Chaddin will find trouble in Londray as the servants of Braech tried to take over.
The new Baron Oyrwyn – the very same from which Allystaire ran away at the beginning of book one – tries to gain from the meeting and threatens the result, even if it could mean his own end. To not spoil much about his plan, I’ll only say that the number of times not only Allystaire had to keep himself from killing him were many and the young Baron would deserve his death many times over.
From there, the patchwork forces hurry to where Braech’s forces assault the weak spot of the war-torn land and the remains of Barony long-believed defeated hold the line for the others to arrive for the final battle. Both Braech and the Eldest sorcerer will face their deserved justice.
Many of the questions raised were answered, even if not all. Part of me is glad the book got an end that is truly an end. Even though it was revealed early that Symod leads the forces of Braech, it was still surprising where and how the final fight went down. It had several emotional moments, more so at the end. There’s probably much I could say but I can’t, not without massive spoilers.
Sequel to Ordination I reviewed a week ago, Stillbright picks up exactly where the first book left off: Londray, the home of Baron Delondeur. By the end of the first book, Allystaire was invited for a talk with the Baron which ended with him being pulled into the catacombs. It’s exactly there where the second book starts with the sorcerer and his apprentice from the first book’s prologue “examining” him.
Of course, IdgenMarte and Torvul are not willing to leave him to his fate and hastily create a plan that would free him and even do some side damage to the Baron. Yet Allystaire manages to overpower the sorcerer to the shock of everyone and get on his way out when he’s found.
That’s, by far, not the end of the trouble, something they all know. Along with them, the nameless student and a to-be-sacrificed woman escape the place knowing that the baron will most likely give them hell sooner or later – for this and all the insults suffered from Allystaire in the past.
Their hasty return to Thornhurst has them face unexpected challenges in form of beast-men and the student’s power. They make it eventually, with some of the beast-men freed of their curse – only to face new challenges.
Servants of Braech, the sea-god, use their magic to deprive Thornhurst of rain and so starve the citizens by drying the soil. When that is finally done, servants of Fortune arrive to try striking a bargain not too good for them – and beset by ambition among their own that threatens the diplomatic attempt more than Allystaire’s straightforwardness, which is something.
Realizing that their enemies will sooner or later (and most likely sooner) came crashing down upon them, Allystaire does his best to prepare the village for the coming threat. When they come, it’ll take everything they have and even more to defend the village and what the people there stand for – which is as much as I can say without spoilers.
It still has much of the first book’s appeal: Torvul, Idgen Marte and Allystaire with their differences and teases. Joined by the sorcerer’s apprentice (later named Gideon), it adds several both funny and memorable lines. There’s also reveal of why Allystaire seems to keep distance from women – a hint of his tragic past.
It seems that the third book will flow straight from the second one as well and the end shows that there might be quite some surprise as there are visitors to Thornhurst, and quite unexpected ones.
This is one of the first books I’ve read after buying Kindle in 2016. One of my most favorite, still. And the first I’ve re-read for the third time already with the third book coming out in a matter of days. It’s a bit strange to write a review for it now. Anyway, here it comes.
After taking a two-week break from reading, I finally returned to the fifth and final book in ‘Chronicles of the Black Gate’ series. The grand finale. So, without much fumbling around, I go for the review.
As with the previous books, the fourth directly follows the third. Defense of Abythos ended up being a total failure due to all the creatures Tharok had enslaved and sent the humans scattered from the battlefield.
Those who survived and are capable of leading the remains are trying to create a working strategy to stop the kragh hordes yet find themselves unable to choose something they would all agree on and they’d all believe to work.
Meanwhile, Audsley is getting deeper into the secrets of the Fujiwara, secrets that are often gruesome. His path will take some twists as well, maybe more than the others.
Now, a bit more detail about the individual plotlines.
Tharok’s conquest seems unstoppable at first, yet the warlord is surprised by something he’d not expect: the White Gate. Its power knocks him out temporarily and one of the others takes the mantle of a warlord – as well as the circlet and weapon – from him, leaving him to create a plan to get them back without their help, something he eventually succeeds in doing. Then, he launches his most devastating attack on the humans who prepared their last defense. It does not go as well as he thought until he uses something that no one could be prepared for.
Tiron and the young nobles following him are one of the few that left Abythos by ground instead of portals and are moving, seemingly without a destination, through the land. That is until they encounter a group of kragh that separated from the main army. They eventually join forces with Nok and Shaya who were sent to warn and help the few remaining shamans that Tharok sent away so the medusa can’t get a hold of them.
This journey shows the contrast between Tirn’s harsh realism and the ideals of the nobles and even Tiron is shown that his approach might not be the best one – that a dream or hope can be a goal to go for, despite all the losses they face. With the help of the uncorrupted kragh, they eventually help the final battle in a way no one could expect.
Iskra does not get that much action. Instead, she’s mostly seen trying to keep things together, often being against the plan the Ascendant suggests – only to be shown that they both made mistakes.
Asho and Kethe
The two finally meet again, only to start quite cold as Kethe is still struggling with her new role as a virtue – only to be the last one standing. Both she and Asho are again forced to fight to the limits of their abilities and not always side-by-side as they defend different places against Tharok’s forces. The situation between them changes when Asho saves Kethe and they eventually fight the final battle together.
Also, Elom appears again and shows his skill in fixing things, especially fixing massive things that make massive damage.
This was probably the most interesting part of the book. Audsley, once hungry for knowledge, is now struggling with his inner demons as he delves into the dark secrets of the Fujiwara. With Zephyr, they plan to eliminate their leader and while creating the plan works well, it all goes down horribly. Audsley is given more facts than he’d like – facts that are too hard to swallow for him, a revelation about the Ascension’s dark background and how the faith he believed so much was nothing but a scheme built on a desire for vengeance.
It eventually goes down horribly and even the fact that his firecat Aedelbert finally returns or that he is finally rid of his demons are just a small consolation in what turns to be much worse than the kragh, the medusa, or the massive worms she summoned.
Going 5% up compared to the previous two books.
A great part of me hoped that Asho and Kethe would finally rid Tharok of his head and get done with the kragh for all they caused. How the Fujiwara substory went down was something I did not really expect and if there’s something I am really curious to see in the final book, it’s what will happen with the Ascendant empire. As the characters were considering destruction or reformation, the situation changed many times. Now that all the dark background was revealed and everything is going down even worse than expected, the change will be most likely in some other direction.
What I missed compared to the first three books was saying at the beginning of a chapter from whose PoV the chapter is told. Sometimes it was a good idea for where to end the day’s reading.
The third book in the series started by The Path of Flames, it picks up pretty much where the second book left off, the morning after the battle for Mythgrafen hold besieged by the demons. The stories of different characters will start getting complicated and more complex as the situation escalates.
As with the second book, the third follows several threads of the main story. Many of them will eventually converge by the end.
By the book’s half, it very visible that it’s all going down and that it’s not so much about who might win but about how big mess it’ll be – which helps the pace for a book that’s slightly longer than the previous two.