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613 pages, Paperback
First published April 17, 2014
"It was not a happy ending, but a happy middle - at last, after so many fraught beginnings."And so the last page is turned, and I'm feeling content. I was afraid of disappointment, but it never came.
"There is no acceptable level of collateral damage."Two books ago we started with a blue-haired young woman, an art student in Prague by day and by night the collector of teeth for unknown magic done by the mysterious Chimaera creatures who raised her. And then her strange but comfortable world shattered as she found herself in the middle of apparent annihilation of the entire species who have not only raised her but to which she used to belong - long ago, in another life, in another body, having dared to dream a brave dream of peace with an eternal enemy - the enemy who, having barely become her lover, has also become the weapon of destruction for her entire race.
And now that dream is still alive, despite all odds, despite the blood and death and revenge and grief and despair. Despite centuries of hatred and prejudice and violence.
"History conditioned you for epic-scale calamity. Once, when she was studying the death toll of battles in World War I, she's caught herself thinking, Only eight thousand men died here. Well, that's not many. Because next to, say, the million who died at the Somme, it wasn't. The stupendous numbers deadened you to the merely tragic, and history didn't average in the tame days for balance. On this day, no one in the world was murdered. A lion gave birth. Ladybugs lunched on aphids. A girl in love daydreamed all morning, neglecting her chores, and wasn't even scolded.The dream of Karou and Akiva is simple - the future in which the former enemies can live in peace. Beating swords into plowshares. The dream as old as the world itself, and yet in its simplicity strangely unattainable. Because to attain it you need to let go of the past filled with blood and losses and grief. Because you need to see your enemy as a person, and be able to let go, to forgive, to accept. Because you need to let the dead rest in peace.
What was more fantastical than a dull day?"
'The dead,' she said. 'And we have plenty of dead between us, but the way we act, you'd think they were corpses hanging on to our ankles, rather than souls freed to the elements. [...] They're gone, they can't be hurt anymore, but we drag their memory around with us, doing our worst in their name, like it's what they'd want, for us to avenge them? I can't speak for all the dead, but I know it's not what I wanted for you, when I died. And I know it's not what Brimstone wanted for me, or for Eretz.'This book continues to expand the scope of events just as its beloved-by-me predecessor did, and opens new threads instead of (or, should I say, in addition to) marching along to wrap up the story. And that's what can - and I'm sure already did - leave so many readers unsettled. Because doing that in the conclusion of beloved series is wrought with trouble.
Laini Taylor's lovely prose and juuuust the right amount of humor - not only for comedic relief but also by contrast to underscore the grimness of the situation - are just as enjoyable as in the first two books. She knows how to create beautiful and yet simple passages that flow so organically and pull you into the story completely. Her array of interesting, fully-fleshed secondary characters who actually make you care is impressive (Zuzana, Mik, Ziri, Liraz, Issa, Eliza - just to name a few). Her pacing, even though just a tad off in places, is overall decent. Her descriptions are vivid but not overpowering.
"Maybe she couldn't make Karou's life - or love - less complicated, and maybe she didn't have any helpful hints when it came to, oh, angel invasions or dangerous deceptions or armies that clearly just wanted to start killing each other, but she could do this at least. She could make her friend laugh."All in all, I thought it was a strong and lovely conclusion to a strong and lovely story. It is not without its flaws - but, of course, perfection without flaws would run a danger of becoming boring. Even Mona Lisa lacks perfection in her eyebrow-less stare. (Tongue-in-cheek here, oh you serious art critics!)
"It was a new idea for him, that happiness wasn't a mystical place to be reached or won - some bright terrain beyond the boundary of misery, a paradise waiting for them to find it - but something to carry doggedly with you through everything, as humble and ordinary as your gear and supplies. Food, weapons, happiness.
With hope that the weapons could in time vanish from the picture.
A new way of living."
“Absence has presence, sometimes, and that was what she felt. Absence like crushed-dead grass where something has been and is no longer. Absence where a thread has been ripped, ragged, from a tapestry, leaving a gap that can never be mended. That was all she felt.”
“There was only the present, and it was infinite. The past and the future were just blinders we wore so that infinity wouldn’t drive us mad.”
“It was not a happy ending, but a happy middle—at last, after so many fraught beginnings. Their story would be long. Much would be written of them, some of it in verse, some sung, and some in plain prose, in volumes to be penned for the archives of cities not yet built. Against Karou's express wish, none of it would be dull.”