Rifter Book Nine: The Iron Temple is perhaps the most straightforward and linear of the entire series. The previous eight books have jumped back and forth from past to present to tell the story of what happens in the future and how the future came to be. Book nine is simple, straight-forward action as John/Jahn/Jath’ibaye fights for the Fai’daum but in reality he’s fighting to save Laurie and Ravishan. In this installment, John comes fully into his Rifter power and can’t be killed, so instead he endures many, many situations where he should be killed but instead saves the day and kills everyone else. It’s violent but fast paced, engaging, and only slightly repetitive. As always the ending is a pretty strong cliffhanger though the ending is predictable – after all, the story already told us what happened.
The story starts off once again by picking up where the previous book left off. John has gone to fight in the North while Ravishan is off fighting in the south. The two men are apart for most of the story but the few scenes where they are together are intense and packed with emotion. Instead the main focus on this book is John’s contribution to the fighting, which is basically being unable to die and destroy almost anything. John is used frequently on suicide missions, though he doesn’t die, heals almost instantly, and uses pain for greater power. This should be over the top and way too powerful but the story has slowly been building John’s immense power so it’s not a surprise that he can do all the amazing and endlessly powerful things he can do.
Instead the book gets very ceberal with John’s thoughts on the fighting and his fear for others. Since John himself can’t die he has very little to no self preservation. He knows he will live so he doesn’t bother with small details like pain and suffering. He’s only concerned that others won’t live and spends the majority of the book rescuing people and agonizing that he can’t save everything. I definitely liked the internal struggle and opportunity to see inside John’s thought process but I got frustrated with the attitudes of most people surrounding John, especially Ravishan.
Because John is nearly immortal, very few people seem to take his burden into consideration. He’s a tool to be used and deployed as they see fit. On the one hand, during a viscous war, people have to use every advantage they have and John as the Rifter is a huge advantage. I did frequently get frustrated on John’s behalf that everyone expects him to magically win everything and protect everyone. This creates a lot of stress and angst on John’s part because he does have vulnerabilities like anyone else. Perhaps he can’t die or be killed the same ways but the few moments of humanity show the man existing alongside the awesome power.
While the narrative is as engaging and absorbing as all the books in the series have been, the plot is also slight repetitive. It wasn’t enough to bother me or take away any enjoyment from the story but at the same time I did realize basically the same circumstances kept happening. There would be a seemingly impossible situation where John steps up, takes on incredible injuries and saves almost everyone in the process. There are a few stumbles, which is nice because otherwise John would have been too perfect and therefore boring but instead the quiet times where the characters take over make for a nice balance.
This is one of the faster installments with a lot of action. It starts the war that’s been coming since the beginning and I’m anxious to read the last book. There is still a lot of material to cover and numerous loose ends to tie up so I’m curious to see how the last book will manage to do all this in one novella sized installment. I’m also saddened that this great series is coming to a close but for fans you definitely won’t want to miss this book. Only one more to go!