Orbit, p/b, 336pp, Â£8.99
Reviewed by Pauline Morgan
Coming in to a series with the last book is probably not a good idea, especially as there were five other volumes before this one. There is a â€˜story so farâ€™ at the start but however skilful a writer is this is always inadequate; the things a reader really wants to know are unquantifiable in the terms of a synopsis and those can get boring if they are too long and complex. Fortunately, this one is brief. Neverthelessâ€¦. It doesnâ€™t cover the whole series, just touches on the last two volumes.
Although it is not clear from the start of this particular volume, this is one of those series novels that are initially set in the contemporary world but as the unsuspecting Jane True discovers, there is a parallel world to which she is connected. The inhabitants are members of supernatural races. She has been chosen as their champion against those wanting to upset the balance. Her nemesis is Morrigan who is capable of turning into a dragon known as the Red. Morrigan also wants to conquer the human world and supplant us with supernaturals.
At the end of the previous book, Tempestâ€™s Fury, Janeâ€™s lover Anyan was turned into a dragon, the White, and as such is now consort of Morrigan. Jane and her friends, both human and supernatural, have to find a way of destroying the dragons to save Earth. They need to find a way to do it without killing Anyan. The only clues they have are the verses of an ancient Greek scholar which even translated are decidedly obscure in their meaning. To interpret them is only part of the problem. Even if they solve that problem, they will still have to deal with the supernaturals that have declared on Morriganâ€™s side for the inevitable forthcoming battle.
Some of the issues that I have with this book may stem from the fact that I have not read the earlier volumes. I didnâ€™t find any of them particularly engaging and didnâ€™t care who won the ultimate battle but then I hadnâ€™t fallowed their passage to this point. Yes, the puzzle of the text was of interesting even though parts of it were predictable. My greatest concern was that I felt that I had read this story before but only the names had been changed. In recent years there have been a number of series which start off with the premise that the heroine (and it is usually a female protagonist) has grown up not suspecting that either one or both parents are supernatural, or that both are and she has been adopted. There is another world reached via gates, portals, mysterious paths, magic â€“ take your pick â€“ to which she is able to travel. As the story starts she has a traumatic experience that reveals her true heritage. From then on, she and her new friends face supernatural dangers, mostly threatening the stability of the world as we know it. Increasingly, the authors break up moments of peril with sex as the heroine meets her soul-mate before balance is restored.
Finding fresh approaches to this scenario is becoming increasingly difficult. I donâ€™t know if this series has it. At the same time I appreciate that there are many readers who want more of the same. Maybe this series is for them, if so, start at the beginning. I wonâ€™t bother. There is so much writing out there that is far more exciting and original.