I completely got my money's worth of enjoyment out of this series. By the time I was approaching book nine, I didn't want it to end. But the ending was very satisfying.

There was one event in particular which was completely surprising, yet meticulously set up over ten books. There was another, also surprising yet completely set up, which caused me to email Buymeaclue a message whose non-spoilery text consisted of "OH MY GOD!!!!! Also, just opened the part where it shifts POVs and OH MY GOD I KNOW WHERE HE IS."

Now I want to read the whole thing over from the beginning. Due to the unusual structure, it will probably feel like an entirely new experience.

You can buy the whole shebang on e-book at a discount ($30 for the equivalent of four books), or in paper. However, the paper editions are in four volumes, and only two are out. You will probably end up with a mutant half-paper, half-e-book set if you attempt the latter.

http://www.blindeyebooks.com/rifter/

I mentioned before that the series reminded me of P. C. Hodgell. By the end, it also reminded me of the Fullmetal Alchemist anime (first series.) In both, nearly all the seemingly unrelated side stories and apparently unimportant minor characters turn out to be integral to the story as a whole. Also the unusual mix of a dark world with a magic system involving some major body horror, with funny moments and a lot of very likable and even idealistic characters who don’t (necessarily) get crushed under the author’s boot.



The point where I sent a maniacal email was when we found out exactly how Ravishan died, and then it cuts to Kahlil strapped down on the Temple of Skeletal Horror AIEEE!

I am blown away by how we knew all along, more or less, that John had been responsible for Ravishan’s death, and yet it never even occurred to me that it was that direct. All things considered, he’s doing pretty well when we see him in the future timeline, having carried that guilt for all those years.

I’m not sure I totally followed what exactly went down when John rescued Laurie. I don’t quite get why Fikiri couldn’t get in earlier, if he could then. I guess he needed John’s power to defeat the nuns, but John didn’t have that level of power earlier. And he kidnapped Ravishan and took him there because he also wanted to fuck over John and Ravishan in the process. If only John had trusted Fikiri enough to hand off skeleton-Laurie to Fikiri when he rescued her – not that he had any reason to trust Fikiri – maybe it all would have gone better.

So, I was right about Laurie being partially skeletonized. Ugh, that scene where John finds her was so horrifying. And her motivation for becoming the Big Bad – to undo everything that went wrong – was so heartbreaking. Not to mention the dangling mystery of what happened to her child. UGH.

I do wish that we’d seen more of her relationship with Fikiri earlier. I generally get why they were doing what they were doing, but it felt a little sketchy compared to some other significant relationships and motivations in the series.

The whole last part of book ten was so well-done. Laurie using truth drugs to make Kahlil confess – and so realize himself - that John would come for him was so moving yet ironic. I identified the most with Kahlil, who spent his whole life with absolutely no one (except his sweet little skeletal sister, whom he couldn’t help and who couldn’t help him), and then got everything in the end.

The sequence where he and Rousma are stumbling out of the hell-nunnery had me desperately attempting to console myself that every law of narrative said that there was no way he would just collapse and die, and yet I really felt like that could happen. When Ravisham’s bones merge with him – down to the exposed finger-bone, awesome – it was nothing I’d expected at all, and yet set up from the very beginning.

Did we ever find out what happened to Tavesh? I don’t recall her from earlier books.

Finally, I have to note that I sort of predicted the jalapeno! A perfect little grace note.



These books just kept getting better and better, from an intrigueing but somewhat rough start. I’m sure they will reward re-reading.
minxy: Teal'c raises a hand to say "hey". (Default)

From: [personal profile] minxy


I read this on your recommend (two paper books and several eBooks, but I think that only amounts to 3 paper books total), and I LOVED IT. My partner is reading it now too. Absolutely worth the investment. Thank you so much for the recommendation!

From: [identity profile] sartorias.livejournal.com


I'm not sure I'm up for forty bucks for one storyline. a tad steep!

From: [identity profile] jorrie-spencer.livejournal.com


I dislike horror too, but didn't have trouble with that aspect of it. Of course, Sherwood and I might be sensitive to different things when it comes to horror.

From: [identity profile] tool-of-satan.livejournal.com


The Blind Eye Books page is a bit confusing - it says there will be four paper books, but then it says that His Sacred Bones is "the epic conclusion of the Rifter Trilogy."

October (when the third paper book is out) is a ways away. On the other hand, I don't know that I want to read anything long on my computer. On the other other hand, possibly I should just suck it up and buy an e-reader.

From: [identity profile] limb-of-satan.livejournal.com


I emailed Blind Eye books and they confirmed there will only be three print books (since I wanted to decide whether to hold out til October and get the rest) or if there were going to be four I would break down and buy the rest as an e-book.

From: [identity profile] jorrie-spencer.livejournal.com


I'm so glad you were satisfied by the ending! Yay! It's been so fun for me to read your write-ups.

I am finding the reread very rewarding.

I really couldn't figure out HOW Hale was going to bring it all together. Though I did keep wondering when the sister was going to show back up again, because I felt she had to. So I was glad to see Rousma. But even then, I couldn't tell what was going to happen until it did.

ext_7025: (everyone's a critic)

From: [identity profile] buymeaclue.livejournal.com


Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!

I am hella impressed. I was pretty sure by book 10 that she'd pull it off and pull it all together, but I could not for the life of me figure out how, especially given how little book was left, by the time we got back to the present day, to do it in. But yeah, really well done, and ultimately really well-paced. Loved the _efficiency_ of the last section. Loved how much work the twisting timelines ultimately bore and how organic and essential they proved.

Horrified by Ravishan's death! That was the point I bolted for the computer to flail at [livejournal.com profile] jorrie_spencer. Would have flailed at you, too, but figured you weren't there yet what with the interview. Made many little things click more fully into place but good gravy, what a bold and horrible move. I was likewise Very Concerned during the escape sequence and I think this was part of why. I kept trying to tell myself, Self, there is no way she is going to kill him for real, and myself kept telling me, Except that she JUST DID and it was EVEN WORSE THAN PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT.

(Does fully-integrated!Kyle know exactly what happened? Something towards the end makes me think not quite, which is probably for the best on account of AUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH. I assume he's also now immortal-ish, what with all the holy-bones talk? Also: best sister EVER.)

I am sorry that Laurie died, but I don't think there was any way out of that one and for once I thought the all-out awful of the world-destroying plan was understandable and even kinda sympathetic. I mean, ideally one does not destroy the world! But Laurie's position statement was not unconvincing. (I wished John had just let Fikiri carry her, too. Poor everyone!)

Not that it makes anything better for poor Laurie, but I'm pleased by the accumulation of women in these last few books. Pesha, Tanesh, Hirran, Rousma, and so forth -- very satisfying for the book itself to reflect the opening up of opportunities that Jath'ibaye is enacting in his world.

I am entertained that apparently dogs are the body of choice for escaped skeletal witches!

And I 110% believe in mangoes and jalapenos as evidence of a happy ending.

ETA: I additionally enjoyed that the epilogue involved a certain amount of Kyle gallivanting around through the Grey Space. I hope they're getting to spend a lot of time together, too! But I was really pleased, for both of them, that their happy ending implied freedom and trust.
Edited Date: 2013-05-22 10:54 pm (UTC)

From: [identity profile] jorrie-spencer.livejournal.com


I assume he's also now immortal-ish, what with all the holy-bones talk?

Oh, that would be nice for John, in that I worry about him watching everyone die around him!

Have forgotten this whole Fikiri angle about carrying Laurie already. Good thing I am rereading the book.

I thought Hale was very effective in making the main "enemy" be someone whose motives were so very relatable, even if John had to say no to her. And also explaining how he couldn't bring himself to kill her.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


Yeah, I almost never feel sympathetic to heroes who are going to let the world be destroyed because they can't bring themselves to kill a villain who used to be a friend. In this case, however, I did feel sympathetic. Especially since John didn't just throw up his hands and let Laurie do it.

I also like the thought of Kahlil being effectively immortal. I too had wondered about John's lifespan compared to his.

From: [identity profile] jorrie-spencer.livejournal.com


Right he would not allow her do what she wanted to do. And, well, I'll have to wait and see, but I assume he couldn't actually catch Fikiri who was doing such day-to-day damage.

I think I've said this elsewhere, but the contrast between what John got out of this world and what Laurie got out of being in this world is so stark—I could just feel her rage. When she didn't start out as a ragey person.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


No, I don't think John could catch Fikiri. He couldn't travel through Gray Space himself.

You know, I started to agree that Laurie had it much worse, and I do think she did... but looking at where they were at the end of their original timeline, after laurie was rescued and Ravishan was killed, there are more parallels than I had initially thought.

They were both tortured, though Laurie had that go on for way longer than John did and what they did to her was worse.

They both watched the man they loved suffer, and ended up seeing him killed. I think John had that one worse, since at least Laurie wasn't personally responsible for Bill's death.

They both gained a lot of magical power that didn't make things any better for them, and often made it worse.

John had political power, which Laurie didn't, but I don't think that was a key issue.

John had a lot more friends, while Laurie just had Fikiri. Technically she had John too, but I can't imagine that John was capable of being any sort of comfort to her or anyone for a very long time post-Rifter meltdown, and by then it was too late.

Her baby was murdered. John didn't have anything like that happen.

They both killed innocents with their power, if I recall correctly.

They both lost their home, but Laurie was more connected to Nayeshi to begin with.

And Laurie had her body turned into something horrible. What I find really interesting, though, is that Ji and Rousma had the same thing happen, and they found a way to go on and live their semi-undead lives anyway. I think the suggestion is that even what was probably the worst, or at least most horrific, thing that happened to her didn't force her to make the choices she made. There were other people who had the same thing happen, and chose differently.

(I'm now wondering if she could have taken another body, or if the skeletonizing process being interrupted meant that was impossible - or that she'd have to finish it first. UGH. But I think that even if she could have, she wouldn't have, because that would have meant abandoning the last vestige of her old self. And that was the one thing she wouldn't do. She wanted to get everything she lost back, not let go of it and choose something new.)

So yeah, I feel really bad for Laurie. But a lot of the disparity in their outcomes occurred after she devoted herself to trying to undo what had happened, while John decided to move forward from there.

From: [identity profile] jorrie-spencer.livejournal.com


Interesting stuff! I guess the narrative, where John is almost always with Ravishan or Kahlil, can make it harder to see these parallels. Because for Laurie I see so much loss. We don't see John (much or at all?) between Ravishan's death and Kahlil's reappearance. But of course that doesn't mean he didn't live through it.

The other thing is that Laurie's world, despite her powers, just seemed to get smaller while John's opened up (though in sometimes horrendous ways). First she's stuck in the tent looking after sick Bill, then she's stuck in that house, then she's to become bone, and becomes stuck in-between. I mean after that it's different, and I agree she could still have made different choices. And she didn't.

I also think John's willful blindness at times (to his powers at the beginning, to Ravishan's attraction to him, to even seeing that Ravishan is young Kyle, etc.) allows him to continue and gives him the strength to continue. Whereas Laurie was more observant and hopeful, but in a way that probably broke her. I do think there's the implication that being in-between would twist someone up.
ext_7025: (Default)

From: [identity profile] buymeaclue.livejournal.com


The other thing is that Laurie's world, despite her powers, just seemed to get smaller while John's opened up

My thought as well (although it's really interesting to see the side-by-side comparison and I do find the thrust of it compelling). Given the world they landed in, John's options were more and better than Laurie's. Which also meant more and arguably worse pressures and dangers! But he could choose and act in ways that I'm not sure were available to Laurie, especially with the liability that was Bill.

She did find herself a place in the Bousim household; she did have a chance to belong in this world. But even that was IIRC contingent on offering Lady Bousim and Fikiri an escape, so...kind of a conundrum, that even her chance at belonging required her not to belong.

Although one could argue that she chose to let herself be stuck in the ways she was stuck and especially that she chose to put all her hopes on John's finding them a way home, and that she might have had other avenues if she's gone looking for 'em.

I also think John's willful blindness at times (to his powers at the beginning, to Ravishan's attraction to him, to even seeing that Ravishan is young Kyle, etc.) allows him to continue and gives him the strength to continue.

INTERESTING.

I'm now wondering if she could have taken another body, or if the skeletonizing process being interrupted meant that was impossible - or that she'd have to finish it first.

AUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGH.

I was not being entirely silly in commenting on the witches-in-dogs phenomenon. I wonder if there was more precedent for that, since apparently Ji and Rousma both figured it out independently -- except that I thought all book that they were wearing the same dog? Is there a timeline thing there that I missed?

From: [identity profile] jorrie-spencer.livejournal.com


Well, I could have got it wrong, but Rousma wears Ji's dog and is left on earth at the beginning. (I guess she just stays there?) But when Kahlil returns, Rousma is still bones and at the end when she rescues him, she later wears a different younger dog and not Ji.

Or is that what you're asking?
ext_7025: (Default)

From: [identity profile] buymeaclue.livejournal.com


That's exactly what I was asking, thanks! Too many details. Brain overloading!

ETA: I had completely forgotten that it was Ji in the escape-with-Rousma at the beginning. That would explain that. :-p
Edited Date: 2013-05-23 05:23 pm (UTC)

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


I think Ji independently got the idea of being a dog. She was a woman for a while, long enough to get pregnant and give birth, but was too bothered by wearing another person's body, even a dead person's, to stay a woman for long.

I think Rousma got the idea of being a dog because she could see fragments of the alternate past and the future where she was one. IIRC, she initially nabbed Ji's dead dog body and either got left on Earth when Kyle crossed back to Basawar, or else that entire timeline just evaporated except for Kyle (more likely.)

The other thing that occurs to me about Laurie is that she was not just in a smaller and more limited environment, but one which brought out and encouraged her worst qualities.

Remember how she inflicts Bill's illness on the spying servant? At the time I read it, it seemed justified, but in retrospect, that's pretty creepy. The Bousims were fine with that because they never liked the spy anyway, and Bill was fine with it because he was so tired of being sick all the time and was always a go-with-the-flow type of person.

Whereas the main influence on John was Ravishan, who brought out more of John's good qualities - Ravishan's recklessness just prompted John to dig in his heels and be the adult in the relationship. Hann'yu was a really decent person, too. And the asshole homophone priest whose name I'm blanking on was actively bullying John rather than seducing him to go over to the dark side.
ext_7025: (Default)

From: [identity profile] buymeaclue.livejournal.com


The other thing that occurs to me about Laurie is that she was not just in a smaller and more limited environment, but one which brought out and encouraged her worst qualities...Whereas the main influence on John was Ravishan, who brought out more of John's good qualities - Ravishan's recklessness just prompted John to dig in his heels and be the adult in the relationship. Hann'yu was a really decent person, too.

Ahhhhhh. Really good point.

The transfer of Bill's illness was _super_ creepy.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


That scene between Kahlil and Rousma KILLED ME. Especially the part where she tells him you have to keep going even after you're dead, and when she's yelling at him to get up and live. And how she keeps insisting that he lives and she gets to be a dog, and he (and I) thought that she was remembering the timeline that never happened. Only she isn't, she's seeing the future.

I too liked Kahlil still traveling around Gray Space. Their relationship ought to feel like it could never work, due to the huge power imbalance, but somehow Hale convinced me that it would, and from very early on, too. I think because Ravishan is such a strong personality, and has his own power that John doesn't have. (One of the cool little bits was how long I was convinced that John would eventually learn to travel Gray Space himself, based on a number of clever misdirects and my own assumptions resting on common narrative tropes.)

I thought that Kahlil did eventually know/remember how Ravishan died, but that the exact manner of his death wasn't that big a deal for him, by the time he found out. It was an accident, after all. I expect the worst part was knowing how terrible it had been for John.

And I loved how happy Rousma was in her dog body. She got to run and sniff and wear pretty gold collars!

From: [identity profile] jorrie-spencer.livejournal.com


That scene between Kahlil and Rousma KILLED ME. Especially the part where she tells him you have to keep going even after you're dead, and when she's yelling at him to get up and live. And how she keeps insisting that he lives and she gets to be a dog, and he (and I) thought that she was remembering the timeline that never happened. Only she isn't, she's seeing the future.

YES.

And I loved her in her dog body too.
ext_7025: (Default)

From: [identity profile] buymeaclue.livejournal.com


And how she keeps insisting that he lives and she gets to be a dog, and he (and I) thought that she was remembering the timeline that never happened. Only she isn't, she's seeing the future.

Oh, wow, I did not grok that last bit. EVEN MORE AWESOME than I had thought!

(I tried not to think very hard about how young Rousma was when she got skeletonized.)

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


I wondered that too. I think she was really, really young - it would explain her odd speech patterns, and the emphasis on how teeny her original skeleton was. I'm thinking four or five.
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