Farewell to the Liar by D.K. Fields
Head of Zeus, pb, £8.99
Reviewed by Ian Green
All stories have to come to an end. Farewell to the Liar is the third book in the Tales of Fenest trilogy by D.K. Fields, a series that has followed Detective Cora Gorderheim as she dug into a series of killings linked to the upcoming elections of the Union of Realms of Perlanse- elections that will be won or lost depending on the story told by the storytellers of each realm. Each of the novels in the series has followed the same structure- the gaslamp detective fantasy narrative of Cora in the rough streets of Fenest, juxtaposed with interspersed narratives of storytellers that offer differing viewpoints and widen out the world, a world where religion and culture both prize a story above all.
Farewell to the Liar continues the structure of a compelling central narrative bolstered by pillars of nested story and dives ever deeper into the meanings of the stories we tell ourselves and others. As we begin this final entrance to the saga, things have come to a crux- there are widespread calamities due to a change in the environment, a surge of volcanic activity that threatens to forever alter the character and lifestyle of the different regions of Perlanse. Some of those in power seek to preserve their own people and influence, whilst Cora’s sister, Ruth, and many others seek a path forward that might help all of those in need.
A key element where this third entrance differs from the other is in the evolution of Cora’s role- following the events of the earlier books, she is no longer a detective. Stripped of her title and its powers, she is rudderless, with only a single goal to latch on to – protect her sister, so the final story can be told.
The book excels as ever with its pacy plot, though given the pieces in place as we begin, the larger motions are less of a mystery, and the intricacies and politics fall away in importance in relation to this. This is echoed by the characters own journeys- Cora’s investigations now focus on who or what might halt their plans rather than what the larger mysteries at play are.
As in previous books, the juxtaposition of the nested narratives and the central plot is handled well. Farewell to the Liar also is laudable for a clear theme regarding personals and societal responsibility in response to a changing world (See also The Tangled Lands by Paolo Bacigalupi and Tobias S. Buckell, as well as many others). Whilst the actions and intentions of many of the characters may be questioned, the underlying challenge is clearly one of those who have hope against those who dare only to cling to what little they might save or carve for themselves as the world burns. The novel is timely and provoking even as it entertains and is a satisfying end to the tale- though the world of Perlanse surely has many stories yet to be heard.