Pauline Ross's Reviews > Percepliquis

Percepliquis by Michael J. Sullivan
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's review
Aug 07, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: genre-fantasy, price-full, 4-star
Read from January 26 to 31, 2012

It's always special when you reach the end of a series, particularly one which was planned from the start, rather than growing organically. The mysteries will make sense, questions will be answered, characters will receive their dues and loose ends will be tied up, or so one hopes. And on the downside, it's likely some characters will die, perhaps even major ones, and it's always possible the ending will ruin the whole series. Fortunately, Sullivan ends on a high note. There are serious moments (but then the future of mankind is at stake), but he avoids the temptation to get too heavy or preachy, keeps the humour rolling and throws in some nice twists, although the ending is rather simplistic and overly sentimental.

Percepliquis pulls together virtually all the main characters into one questing group - a Fellowship of the Horn, as it were. Some of them didn't seem like main characters before, and I'm not sure they were all necessary to the outcome, but they have all been around pretty much from the start of the series. As with all six of the books, the plot of this one is fairly stand-alone, even though much of it builds on what has gone before. And as with them all, it's not always clear at the time who is manipulating events and who is acting under false pretences. Things are never quite what they seem. I can't imagine anyone would read this book without having read the previous five, because there's a lot of backstory to keep in mind, but the author does a pretty good job of filling in the necessary details.

I like my fantasy to surprise me, but actually there weren't too many surprises here. Maybe the foreshadowing was a little heavy-handed, or maybe my reread paid off, but most of the twists and turns were to some extent predictable. There were only a couple of moments that came out of the blue (but they were both terrific - very satisfying and making perfect sense). And yes, almost all of the questions were answered, there were deaths, but largely it played out as expected. Some of the reveals felt a little too contrived, there was a heavy layer of sentimentality everywhere, and there was a walk-on part for almost every character who survived the previous five books, but on the whole it worked pretty well. The author's writing reached a new high for this book; the poems worked well, the archaic language was much better than before and the dreams fitted perfectly, a hard trick to pull off. Even the romantic interludes were better. And the Royce/Hadrian banter and sniping was extended to the whole questing group, which was great fun and perfectly in keeping with their characters.

What didn't work? Well, the whole elf destruction routine felt very over the top. They were provoked, no denying it, but trying to kill every last human seems an excessive response. And given how powerful they were, their methods seemed a bit haphazard. The search for the underground Percepliquis was heavily redolent of the Mines of Moria in Lord of the Rings, with the pause to decide which of three passages to take, Arista cast in the Gandalf role, the Ghazel playing the orcs, and even a Balrog-type fire beastie being summoned. Fortunately, no one quite said 'Fly, you fools'. And at the end of it, the ruined city of Percepliquis was - well, ruined, and (for me) not terribly interesting.

I'm still not a fan of Arista. I understand what the author has tried to do with her development, and some of it is successful - she's not the whiny aristocrat any more, and seeing Alric again emphasizes just how far she's come. But she still can't manage to do anything by herself, even magic, without a man rescuing her or at the least holding her hand. Of the other characters, Royce is the most complex and therefore interesting, and Hadrian the shining foil to his darkness. Myron is a truly wonderful character, who comes into his own in this book. And even Magnus makes his peace with the world.

Eventually, all is revealed, and the ending is satisfying, although a bit too cute. There were a few implausibilities necessary to make it work, but on the whole everything fitted rather well. As with the whole series, an enjoyable, pacy read, page-turningly good, entertaining rather than deeply profound, although this final episode had more finesse than its predecessors. A good four stars.

For anyone who's interested, I've put together some thoughts on the series as a whole on my not-really-a-blog [warning: many spoilers]:

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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Justin Working through this now. About 75% done. I'll come comment on your blog post once i finish. I'm a bit dissatisfied with how inclusive the last book is... EVERY single character, no matter how small, is back.

message 2: by Michael (new) - added it

Michael Pauline,
Thank you for both the review here and the full write up on your site which is also excellent. You are great at mixing praise with criticism and reviews that do both are actually rare and hard to come by.

Arista seems to be a very polarizing character...even my daughter (who the series was written for) hated her through most of it...but in the end she finally came around to liking her.

As for figuring stuff is very difficult to walk the tightrope to account for various levels of readers. My goal...and quite frankly for people to "figure it out" to give them enough details such that they can slide the pieces into place (If no one could then it shows I didn't do my job of providing enough clues). For those that aren't able to...I'll eventually place the pieces for them.

On the roles of women, we do diverge as I have a much different view of their strengths and capabilities, but you give reasoned and rational explanations for why you formed the impressions that you did. For the was not the rope that restored Modina it was Mince. Once she realized that she still had a family that loved her she found the stregnth to pull herself together to protect them.

It's obvious from your comments that you are a detailed reader and on the lookout for the various mechanizations and sleights-of-hand. In many respects I feel that having you find some enjoyment in the series as a great compliment. Many of the scenes you mentioned are some of my favorites as well.

Thanks again for both your investment in time with the series, and for crafting such detailed and well thought out reviews/comments. I very much enjoyed reading them.

message 3: by Michael (last edited Feb 03, 2012 02:14AM) (new) - added it

Michael @Justin - you are correct and I think it comes as a byproduct from the fact that I wrote this series all as one story with full intention that there would be no more.

In many ways I spent five books creating threads and interweaving them through the volumes and felt it was my responsibility to tie up each and every one of them. So while you may find the "inclusivity" not to your liking - it was indeed the mission I set out for myself and, for me at least, I would have been remiss if I left any hanging after the series completion.

Pauline Ross Michael wrote: "Thanks again for both your investment in time with the series, and for crafting such detailed and well thought out reviews/comments. I very much enjoyed reading them."

Michael, thank you for your nice comments, and also for providing me with many hours of entertaining reading. Even when I was critical, I still found all the books very enjoyable, and they just got better and better over the series. I'm aware, too, that some of the things I criticised (like the medieval-type setting) were exactly what you intended from the start.

I wish you good fortune with all your future enterprises.

message 5: by Tom (new)

Tom Kepler I just finished the trilogy edition with the reading of Heir of Novron. My main enjoyment of the series is the sense that what I read in the first book connects and enriches the sixth--and vice versa. It was that sense of connectedness rather than organic development, as Pauline described. I believe either approach can result in great stories, but I found I not only enjoyed the reading of this series but also learned from it. I'm just getting reading to begin revising and writing the second draft of my fantasy novel, The Stone Dragon (drafted a couple of years ago), and I can't wait to read it through and to take notes to take that "organic" first draft and make more connections throughout the novel. I've found Goodreads a great site as an author. I get to read about how other authors formed their books, and I get to read the insights of reviewers such as Pauline.

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