I finished reading David B. Coe's Eagle-Sage this morning. Once again, it is a testimony to how good this entire trilogy truly is, considering that I wrote my last review last Thursday. That I read the whole series in so short a span of time says a lot about its overall quality. As a matter of fact, I don't have as much time as I would like to read. To go through those 3 volumes in about 3 weeks means that this one was indeed special!:-)
Following my review of The Outlanders, Mr. Coe responded that he was curious to see what I would think of the trilogy's last installment. Just the fact that he took the time to actually write me a note was quite something, I have to admit. Of course, it helps when the reviews are so good!;-) And he did respond to my review of Children of Amarid as well. In any event, it seems that the ending engendered some mixed emotions among readers. So I was eager to finish the series, in order to find out what the author meant by that.
Once again, all the elements that made the previous volumes so enjoyable are present in the final chapter of The LonTobyn Chronicle. The characterizations remain Coe's bread and butter, and once more he doesn't disappoint. The prose in this book is also up to the standard established by its predecessors.
Eagle-Sage begins 7 years following Orris' adventures in Lon-Ser. In Tobyn-Ser, commerce with the land across the sea has brought many changes to the land and its people, not all of them good. The conflict between the Children of Amarid and the League continues to escalate, and the rift between the two orders of mages continues to grow. So much so that free mages have now appeared -- mages who want to have nothing to do with the bickering of both orders. Concentrating on the protection of the land, they are part of the People's Movement.
As the title of the novel implies, Jaryd binds to an eagle, becoming the first Eagle-Sage in centuries. But the Gods only send an eagle when war is brewing, or so the prophecy claims. A Gathering is called in Amarid, so that the Order can discuss what could possibly be coming. But to Jaryd and Alayna's dismay, they discover that Cailin has also become bonded to an eagle, becoming Eagle-Master of the League. Erland, regardless of that powerful omen, seeks to retain his position of First Master. As they meet to discuss the portent presaged by the presence of two eagles, Jaryd and Cailin realize that the menace they will face will be dire beyond belief. And that if the people of Tobyn-Ser are to survive the atrocities to come, both the Order and the League will have to work together.
In Lon-Ser, Melyor, now Sovereign of Bragor-Nal, struggles to bring peace. But in a land with a history of violence, that state of affairs doesn't please everyone. And the fact that she is now Bearer of the Stone and doesn't hide her Gildriite heritage ensures that enemies are prepared to do anything to kill her. Traitors await her at every turn, even among her most trusted allies, bidding their time to somehow put someone else in her position.
The tale was a great read. I saw that many readers didn't like the fact that the action took place in two different lands, which sort of influenced the pace of the book. Even if I tend to agree, it was a necessary evil. There was no way to tell the story without splitting the action between Tobyn-Ser and Lon-Ser. I think that Coe rose up to the challenge and did an incredible job. The change of pace, although not seemless, did not take anything away from the story. Of course, there was a lot more action in the Nals, but that's the way their society works. Overall, I believe that the author did a very good job. Taking the readers through two seperate tales that have repercussions on one another is not easy, but Mr. Coe managed to do it brilliantly.
One of the only negative things I can say about Eagle-Sage is that the ending was a bit rushed. After such a build-up, that was a bit of a let-down. Not the ending itself, mind you, just the fact that it took a while for the readers to get there, and all of a sudden it's over. I would have liked for the final day and the confrontation to be a lot more detailed. And although it is a negative, it doesn't take anything away from the novel. At least in my eyes.
Another thing which seems to have put off some readers is that fact that there is no clear ending to the series. No Perry Mason scene in which all is revealed, no "they lived happily ever after" kind of thing, etc. Mr. Coe left a lot of things out in the open, left some things to the readers' imaginations. But more importantly, he left the door open for a possible sequel. I've checked his website and realized that he has no plans or intentions to ever write a sequel, at least not at this time. He claims that he wanted to write this trilogy, and end it once that story had been told. Hmmm, if only writers like Terry Goodkind could ever share that feeling!!!;-) That's commendable, and I salute Coe's integrity. But on a marketing standpoint, it is only natural for an author to do such a thing, namely not burning any bridges. If there is another story to tell and the author feels the desire to do so, he can always return to the universe which was his first work. Remember that Tad Williams ended Memory, Sorrow and Thorn in much the same way, with a prophecy that promises a lot more to come, but has yet to return to the universe that made him a New York Times bestselling author. Hopefully one day he will, as will Mr. Coe! But more than that, such an ending shows that their worlds are alive and that the possibilities are nearly endless. Just like ours, their worlds are not static. When WWII ended, we did not all live happily ever after. Life goes on, as the saying goes. Which is why I have absolutely no problem with the way this book ended. It brought a great series to a satisfying conclusion, with the promise that more could possibly be coming in the future. I can certainly live with that!
My only complaint, as was the case with Children of Amarid, is the fact that we never discover just how Sartol came into power, unbeknownst to the rest of the Order. Nor is there any clue as to how he came across the knowledge that he could make the Summoning Stone his. I'm always the one asking how and why, so to be left in the dark concerning this was sort of a disappointment for me. But other than that, this trilogy was a wonderful read.
In light of all this, I recommend this series to all fantasy fans out there. And if David B. Coe's lives up to the promise that this trilogy has generated, I'm persuaded that he will go a long way. With such a distinctive voice, I think that we will appreciate his work for many years to come.
Final verdict: The LonTobyn Chronicle deserves 9/10. And now that I've read the whole thing, I can say without reservations that this trilogy is a great addition to any fantasy collection!