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.


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.
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