The enthralling conclusion to the Bannon and Clare trilogy from New York Times best-selling author, Lilith Saintcrow. Sorcery. Treason. Madness. And, of course, murder most foul...
A shattering accident places Archibald Clare, mentath in the service of Britannia, in the care of Emma Bannon, sorceress Prime. Clare needs a measure of calm to repair his faculties of Logic and Reason. Without them, he is not his best. At all.
Unfortunately, calm and rest will not be found. There is a killer hiding in the sorcerous steam-hells of Londinium, murdering poor women of a certain reputation. A handful of frails murdered on cold autumn nights would make no difference...but the killings echo in the highest circles, and threaten to bring the Empire down in smoking ruins.
Once more Emma Bannon is pressed into service; once more Archibald Clare is determined to aid her. The secrets between these two old friends may give an ambitious sorcerer the means to bring down the Crown. And there is still no way to reliably find a hansom when one needs it most.
The game is afoot...
©2014 Lilith Saintcrow (P)2014 Hachette
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"Wait, that's the end?"
I'm partial to steampunk, sorcery and Sherlock, so this is very much in my wheelhouse. I found it to be a mostly satisfactory end to the series (as apparently it is). It's a decent story, if a little heavily foreshadowed for my taste. Usually I find the highlight of Saintcrow's work to be that she takes a story in unexpected directions, and I had this one nailed around the 1/3 mark. But still fun, and I enjoy Emma, Archibald and Mikal enough to follow them around to see what they'll do. But. It's the Ripper. Making him the product of malign sorcery is a lot less frightening than his being just a man.
My main issue is with the narrator. I found her distractingly unappealing, and more than a little unsuited to voicing a majority of the characters. If she only voiced Emma, she brings a youthful quality to a young-seeming sorceress that would probably got her through. Unfortunately, elderly queens, prostitutes, witches, demons and any sort of man at all seem to be outside her range. But if you want to "read" this book while your eyes are busy with other things, she's better than the text-to-speech feature on a Kindle. Barely.
Overall, I'd say this feels much more like the book that you have to get through to get to the grand finale. And it's just a finale. Gah. This sounds much more negative than it should. It's a solid 4 stars.
"Maybe not the end"
With this story, Lilith Saintcrow brings the Bannon and Clare trilogy to an end. It's a complex and compelling story that shows a wonderful ability to create a consistent and believable world in which sorcery and logic both operate under rules that provide a creative tension throughout.
I have seen some complain that this is the end of Bannon and Clare, but would disagree. At the end of this story you have two well-developed characters going their own ways, Each represents one half of the dichotomy present in the universe and each is potentially immortal due to their carrying a philosopher's stone. I can foresee many stories in the future featuring each of these characters as a sole protagonist. If she ever opens the universe to additional submissions for anthology projects I would love to write some stories about Clare in different times and outside of the bounds of Brittania.
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