I finally finished this amazing series, by Gene Wolfe. I have been continually impressed by these books, and the conclusion was no different.
These books all seemed to have a theme to them, or a focus. The first book I felt was more about the world, and though the story was exciting and interesting, I felt more drawn by the curiosity of the big picture behind the plot and action. The second book was all about the characters, and learning their secrets and being surprised about their origins or motives. The third book, I think focused on items or relics and their properties and origins. We learn a lot about the way these things work, which I guess is similar to the ‘world’ of book one, but on a much smaller, detailed scale.
This final book was about mind, and memory and personality, which you could say the whole series is about, but it comes into focus much more greatly in this final book.
I must say that I’ve been frustrated by the ending in every single one of these books, though after I knew I was going to read them all it wasn’t so bad. But each book ends at an almost arbitrary point. It’s as if the author wrote one giant book then chopped it into smaller ones, with no clear end point for each. The final book ends this same way, right at what feels like a crucial point in the story. I have recently found that there is another sequel, though it is not listed as a part of the original series. I’ll have to read it and see if I can ever get some kind of end to this story…
Despite my above complaints, though, I absolutely loved all of these books as individuals and as a whole. The prose is consistently beautiful, with such vivid descriptions as are rarely seen in the genre, and such deep and well crafted characters as are rare anywhere. I can say this is one of the few series I feel I will read again (or for the first time, since I’ve been listening to them on audible).
I have a feeling this will remain as one of my favorite series for a long time. Check it out!