For two thousand years the Arameri family has ruled the world by enslaving the very gods that created mortalkind. Now the gods are free, and the Arameri’s ruthless grip is slipping. Yet they are all that stands between peace and world-spanning, unending war.
Shahar, last scion of the family, must choose her loyalties. She yearns to trust Sieh, the godling she loves. Yet her duty as Arameri heir is to uphold the family’s interests, even if that means using and destroying everyone she cares for.
As long-suppressed rage and terrible new magics consume the world, the Maelstrom — which even gods fear — is summoned forth. Shahar and Sieh: mortal and god, lovers and enemies. Can they stand together against the chaos that threatens?
MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE TRILOGY
This is the concluding book to a trilogy that ended up being a favorite of mine in 2011. In the end, all I can say is “wow”. It’s the kind of book where you spend your time marveling at how everything fits together and the ideas behind the plots, the worldbuilding, and the characters themselves. It contains gods, battles, romance, and can be read on a purely entertainment level or one that’s more deep and thought-provoking (I preferred the latter myself).
Sieh has always been my favorite of the immortals throughout the trilogy, which means I was ecstatic that almost the entirety of the book was from his viewpoint. He embodies the essence of childhood, as well as the many elements of tricksterdom, and so he constantly sees the world through a child’s eyes. This means he performs a lot of mischief, but also means he doesn’t necessarily learn from his mistakes or from the consequences of any situation he gets himself into. He’s desperate to feel included and belonged among the Three, but can’t since he’s a godling to their god status.
Given that his very identity is childhood, the particular circumstances Sieh finds himself in – trapped in a mortal body that’s slowly aging and possessing a limited amount of magic draining away the more he uses it – are particularly excruciating. Sieh is forced to age and grow older against his will, but anything related to adulthood and maturity is his antithesis, and so he’s weakened even further. One scene that particulalry demonstrates the desperateness at which Sieh clings to his childhood is when he grabs Shahar and they start jumping on the bed, even though they are physically teenagers and supposed to be past such frivolity. And yet the fact that Sieh has been altered in this manner such that he can no longer be the god of childhood makes perfect sense, given that life and existence necessitate change – it is what defines each of those two concepts. Everyone, from humans to Gods, are at the mercy of change. Even though Sieh was originally immortal, he couldn’t remain who he was forever and continue to exist. Thus, in becoming mortal and growing to become a new person, he is following an inevitable path he could never have escaped. Still, the way in which he was forced to grow up and finally become old broke my heart. That being said, the story had the tendency to drag, particularly in the middle section when Sieh’s dealing with his mortality outside Sky. That portion simply wasn’t as captivating.
I will say, the summary on the back of the book somewhat occupies the realm of misleading advertising, as it suggests that Shahar and Sieh will be the main pairing, which was a reasonable expectation given that the previous two books centered around a couple. Instead, it’s really a threesome, though I’m not complaining with how things turned out. A third of the way through, I realized that Sieh, Shahar, and Deka would end up in a three-way relationship paralleling Nahadoth, Itempas, and Yeine. I really liked Shahar as a child and how she had the imperious nature of any self-respecting Arameri, but also has a concept of what’s right and wrong. With the double-edged assistance of Sieh, she learns to develop even further so she doesn’t grow up to be a typical Arameri Heir. Her brother Deka was less intriguing as a character, but he still had a significant part to play in the proceedings. With the pairing, it didn’t feel equally developed between all three characters. I wasn’t keen on how the relationship between Deka and Sieh progressed. I thought it was too big a stretch to believe that Deka had been in love with Sieh since he first met him as a child.
One of the excellent things about this trilogy has always been the mythology. It’s a thoughtful system that’s laid out in such a way that shows all of the time and attention to detail that must have gone into its creation. In terms of what I wrote about earlier about change being integral to life, I loved how this played out within the mythology. The entire universe was the result of the Maelstrom, a powerful force beyond comprehension, spitting out the first three Gods, from whom godlings, demons, and mortals are descended from or created by. Change and luck created the universe, but each god, godling, and human has their own nature that must be true to. As such, it was really cool that the author explored how a nature could change and still retain remnants of what it once was. And that extended to the rest of the events in the book. One hundred years after the Arameri lost their iron grip on the world and the gods were released, the world has slowly been changing such that the Arameri, as they currently exist, won’t last for much longer. Similarly, there’s a continued breaking down of the barriers put in place by the Arameri, including them having children with non-fullblood Arameri, creating an even more diverse world. As such, the Arameri, particularly Remath and Shahar, are struggling to make sense of what direction their family is headed and what role they will play in a world in which they’re not the absolute rulers they previously were.
This book was a great ending to a wonderful trilogy. Although it falls down somewhat with regards to the romance aspect, it’s made up for by the wonderfulness that is Sieh, the world-building, the mythology, and THAT ENDING. As endings go, it’s pretty epic. Even though there are one or two minor issues, this book, and the series as a whole, are very solid. I now have a lot of trust for N.K. Jemisin as a writer and I cannot wait to read her next series.
Side note: The covers for this trilogy have been absolutely gorgeous. If I could, I’d get full size posters of them and hang them in my room.
Disclosure – library