All leaves must fall in time, she had said. The lives we lived fall away from us, but something remains, something that is part of the tree.
That one actually took me rather a while to get through. Don’t get me wrong, the worldbuilding is still facinating, the action is top notch, and we still get more than a bunch of all the main characters. But somehow–it seems to have lost it’s focus. I actually liked the more limited stories of the first two, not the world ending wars with powers that I only sort of understand (not that they really do either) that we get in this book.
We have two storylines, three years apart. Nona et al on the run and making friends and big wars and invading forces. Both neat, but jumping about certainly doesn’t help the focus.
But that was never the heart of Sweet Mercy. The shipheart wasn’t the foundation of the convent. It was always the faith. Always the notion that all men and women are our brothers and our sisters. And that faith doesn’t end with borders. It doesn’t care about heresies used to divide us, or whether you speak your prayers to a white star, or to the fields and forests and stones.
Worldbuildingwise, there’s still a lot of interesting building on what we’ve seen:
Shiphearts are objects of disputed origin that may have powered the ships that brought the tribes of man to Abeth. The closer a person gets to one, the more enhanced their natural talent for magic is. Get too close, though, and the shipheart’s power begins to break your mind apart. Undesirable pieces of your personality like anger or greed or malice split into sentient fragments called devils and exert greater influence over you.
And all sorts of new things (at least variations) as well:
There, out across the graveyard, a pale, questing tentacle, almost flat to the ground, insubstantial as mist. Another, yards long, snaking out between the graves. A pain spider, some creature of the softmen in service to the Scithrowl battle-queen Adoma. Rumour had it that they bred such monstrosities, releasing demons from the black ice into unholy alliance with flesh.
But there’s never quite as much hard world building as I’d like. Given that this is the last book of the series, I have a feeling I’m going to be left with rather more questions than answers, which is something that can bug me.
Characterwise, I still love growing with them all (in power and in darkness). It’s been quite a long, dark, interesting ride.
Overall, I don’t think it quiet stuck the landing and this series as a whole probably won’t end up on my to-reread list, but I’m still glad to have read it. It’s an interesting world and there’s a lot to like about it! Onward!
Random sidenote: one of the most chilling moments was realizing just what this meant:
"I haven’t reached the Path in twenty years because in all that time I have never left it." Sister Pan glanced again at Nona. "Run, child. Please."