Here be Dragons

Ah Eli Monpress series, your time is ending way too soon.  I know I should be happy.  After all, I get a satisfying conclusion to a series that has avoided turning into a repetitive serial.  A series that has avoided bloat.  A series that truly did get better with each and every book.  And it is not like the author is leaving, she has something new in the works so I will get to read her stuff again.  But I sure will miss about new adventures involving this tight cast.  I’ll miss you Eli, and you Josef and Miranda.  And Nico, wonderful Nico, I think I will miss you most of all.

I am actually a bit amazed at how well Aaron tied up all of her loose threads in this book without making it feel like a checklist.  Unanswered questions are answered.  Questions I didn’t even know I should be asking were answered.  Better still, these questions were answered within the framework of yet another interesting adventure for the heroes.  Of course the fate of the very world is at stake but unlike many stories that use the old cliché I felt it was a perfectly reasonable escalation.  We have learned as the series progressed just why our favorite characters were at the center of everything going on; with a hand guiding them through much of the time.  So it doesn’t feel contrived at all to find the cast central to everything important as the world is crumbling around them.

There is so little to say without getting into to spoilers.  Fans of previous books will love the way the book continues to build, Aaron has walked the line between exciting and over the top delicately throughout and for the most part handles it great.  Everything a fan loves about the characters continues, including their strong bonds that have defined the series.  I had some frustrations in the middle of the series with the “spirits” angle being forgotten for plot convenience at times, but saw none of that here.  And the final details of the relationship between humans and spirits was something I would have never worked out on my own, but made perfect since.  Just great.

I was a bit turned off by Miranda’s story.  While all the characters have some Mary/Gary Stu qualities, Miranda’s backstory doesn’t really justify the respect she gets.  Her final plan is accepted by people who don’t even know her, and accepted almost without question.  And with the constant escalation of danger I felt the author was a bit too willing to have characters live through sure deaths a few too many times; there was always a convenient power source to heal up injuries for the next round.

Rating this one has to be done in two ways.  For the book itself it is a solid outing with a few minor annoyances.  A solid four stars.  But as a series ending it spoils us.  The author stopped before I tired of the characters, and as mentioned wrapped up the story better than I through it could be.  And that I feel is worth the full five stars, with a sum adding up to more than its parts.

5 stars.


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