The Split Worlds trilogy culminates in All is Fair. The pace ramps up as the relationships heat up. Here’s is a nice synopsis of the plot on Amazon. Ms. Newman’s skill in weaving together the various elements of the Split Worlds culminate in this brilliant conclusion to the series.
We begin with Ekstrand taking over the Agency, that sinister Nether world corporation that has its tentacles throughout Society’s life. We’re now poised to see a deepening of character, more revelation of the worlds they inhabit and a maturing of goals and the way to reach those goals. I’ve written in the previous reviews about the fact that this world is so real even though it’s inhabited by fairies, sorcerers and a talking gargoyle. This primarily rests on the characters learning and growing; they are not perfect. They plan for event to go one way and they think they know the fix; it rarely turns out as intended. They don’t even pick the correct enemy sometimes (and sometimes they do). Even where the evil and wrong are clear, it’s rare that coming in with blazing guns is the best solution. Part of the endearing (and infuriating) qualities of these characters and this world is that they, and it, are flawed like us, the solutions are complex like ours and victories come in little moments. These victories must be celebrated, although they are not final or complete, to sustain them (and us) for the life-long slog of keeping the good fight. It is a life-long journey “…to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” Micah 6:8b ESV.
Throughout the series the themes of poor treatment of women, social non-conformists, the environment and the lowly are presented; while these are quite explicit. they are not presented in a preachy way with obvious fixes (although characters within the story think they’ve got the fix, in a number of cases.) Indeed, as the story grows, so does the complexity of the problems and their resolution. It may wear its causes on its sleeve but it doesn’t shove it in your face. This is no thinly veiled call to social awareness; this is story in which social issues are incorporated.
In summary, before I dive deep into spoiler territory, let me simply say that if you love multi-dimensional characters, great, well-written story where the thread travels down paths and byways you don’t fully anticipate and you love really well integrated, creative and clever world-building, then the Split Worlds series is for you.
As I did in the previous two books, I went between the Kindle and Audible versions of the books. I have nothing to add but simply reiterate that she completes the series as she began it, with marvelous narration.
****SPOILERS ALERT**** ALL SORTS OF GIVE A WAYS HERE; READ AFTER READING THE BOOK
So now that the series is done, I will indulge in some of my favorite surprises and characters. Rupert – how can you not love this guy; he’s the Zaphod Beeblebrox of the Nether except he has actual talent and intelligence. I really thought that Ms. Newman was going to make this guy out to be perfect. Sorcerer but modern, involved with the Fae but has power over them and yet not caught up in meeting everyone’s expectations. However, he is prepared to blithely kill, he presumes he knows all that is needed and retaliates to an admittedly idiotic move by Ekstrand with an attempt to win a sorcerer’s war as he tries to show off during the process. Finally, he’s a slob. Everybody loves Rupert – except maybe “Maggie”.
Sam slowly sorts out most of his challenges; well, sort of, with lots of help. He is going to save the day now that he is Lord Iron. Except he can’t quite do it instantly and he needs to make sure that the economic and environmental changes he makes are sustainable and he won’t do more harm trying to fix things; he works to avoid putting the very people to whom he wishes to supply clean water, livable land and decent wage out of a job. He can’t even “save” Cathy now that Cathy is working to improve the Nether. She’s no longer running away to be free but running towards her responsibilities in order to do justice but in a way that won’t destroy the families, or those employed by the agency. All of this effort to do justice is fraught with risk and potential error; even as we leave the book, it’s not a slam dunk win.. However, to do nothing and let it perpetuate is untenable for Cathy, and by extension, us.
Then there’s Max branching out on his own. Wow, talk about taking a leap. The good soldier who follows orders begins to make his own.
Overall, I love the way she ends the book. I do wish Dante’e sister’s motives and future were clearer (would she really kill her own brother because no women are allowed in the sorcerer’s club? However, for the main characters, the current issues are drawn up; while the future is unclear, but the path the characters are taking is. Nicely done.