His Holy Bones by Ginn Hale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Rifter Book Ten: His Holy Bones is finally here. The end of an epic series and it’s both good and bad. The ending is good with a solid happy ending but getting there is a challenge. This episode is filled with blood, torture, pain, suffering, and basically every horrible thing you can imagine that happens. Of course it’s alright in the end but you have to be willing to slog through the blood to get there. Furthermore the story valiantly attempts to tie up the loose ends and give closure to the many subplots going on but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the choices. I think ultimately the story is simply too big and too convoluted to wrap up so simply but regardless, it remains an epic and masterful tale.
In the last installment of the serial, we pick up where the last book has left off. The battle foreshadowed from the very beginning has occurred and Ravishan has been fatally injured in the fighting. John/Jahn/Jath’ibaye has called down his consider Rifter powers and basically torn the world apart in his effort to save Ravishan, thus ending the fighting since almost everyone is dead or crushed anyway. The story continues from that time point showing what happens to Ravishan, it’s not a spoiler to say he dies since well we’ve known he dies from almost the beginning, and what happens with Fikiri and Laurie/Loshai. The timeline then jumps to the future with Kyle and Jath’ibaye as Kyle attempts to escape from Laurie’s torture room before the showdown between Jath’ibaye and Laurie.
It may sound confusing but it’s not at all. The story is attempting to blend the past events and characters with the future and literally does just that. On the one hand most of the various storylines are tied up somewhat. There is an attempt to show how the past Ravishan blends with the future Kyle, in a rather literal sense. It’s not a horrible idea and fits with the theme of the story so far but it feels like a really easy solution to horrible torture and confusing dual identities. Additionally, I think the explanation about Laurie becoming Loshai is very weak and not well explained – after all, what happened to her? How did she escape after Ravishan’s death and John’s grief? When did Fikiri become all obsessed with her?
I actually have many more questions that arose from this final installment as I can see what the novella is trying to do – obviously give just enough information to close the door on issues but not dwell too long since there is a lot of ground to cover – but I’m not entirely sold on the explanations. In the end I think the story is simply too complicated with too many characters, plot points, and important details that are surfacely addressed while the action with John and Kyle is center stage. On the one hand that’s good because their relationship is the main focus that needs to be addressed and resolved, but it does leave a lot of questions and other issues unresolved.
Having said that this is definitely a fitting end to an epic series. The story feels complete, even if somewhat unresolved and too neatly tied up, the characters are complete and finished. I definitely get the feeling the series knew where it was going from the beginning, which lets the reader trust in the book and the writing without worrying the story is going to go off the rails. It definitely had potential a few times but the restrained hand and consistent focus on the end kept the story on track. The attention to detail is phenomenal and the world building even in this last installment is simply breath taking. The hungry bones are chilling and so well used and portrayed that they are definitely one of my favorite parts of the series as a whole.
Of course no one who’s following the series should skip ahead to this installment but instead read it in order, it’s truly that wonderful and worthwhile. The world building is perhaps some of the best I’ve ever read and what stands out the most to me is the originality. Some of the details are familiar of course but so many more are twisted and turned on their head, created into something new, dark, and compelling. This isn’t a light read but it’s absorbing and I couldn’t put it down each time. The series as a whole shows how you can incorporate dark concepts – endless torture, rape, pain, death, suffering – without overwhelming the story or using them for shock value. Each act in this epic series has a purpose and the pseudo gore is well written without embellishment.
Each installment varies as it’s going to considering the length and scope of the story but this is definitely a series I eagerly recommend to fantasy fans. It’s that amazing. The rating for this installment is 4 stars but for the series as a whole…5 stars without a doubt.