RogerBW's Blog

Morningstar, Liz Williams 20 August 2022

2014 urban fantasy, self-published, sixth of its series. A mysterious Something comes to Singapore Three and makes its home in a largely-disused temple. And the Emperors of Heaven and Hell have both gone missing…

The thing that one gradually notices here is that there is no villain: there are people (using the term loosely, as always) working towards incompatible goals, but this time nobody's setting out to rule, or destroy, the world. Of course, something like that might just happen anyway, because things have gone very wrong and everything we know could become collateral damage. It's an escalation of the stakes, but it feels well-integrated, even as the books' setting expands very substantially.

"I am a universe."

Over the last few years, Jhai had become accustomed to sentient geography, admittedly not quite as large as this. She decided to come straight to the point. "Our universe, or someone else's?"

By the time matters are wrapped up, we've looked into the future and into other worlds, and visited a pocket universe spun off by a 12th-century minor noble who just wanted to be left alone to get on with her studies. It's an ensemble piece as before, and indeed the rapid viewpoint shifts of the last few books come back here, but perhaps because this is mostly about the long-term characters of the series I found it easier to keep them straight and maintain a sense of tension from one appearance of a character to the next. It's also good to see Chen and Zhu Irzh working together, at least some of the time, rather than separately driving their own stories as they've tended to do lately.

It was not, however, as though she was summoning some random entity. She'd never literally conjured up a boyfriend before, but there was a first time for everything.

While options are left open for possible future books, there's a sense of completion here: Chen's child is born, Zhu Irzh gets married, and everything is Basically All Right by the end. If, as seems likely, this is the conclusion to the series, it's a satisfying one.

Also, there's a decent amount of badger this time. #BadgerRepresent

Previous in series: The Iron Khan | Series: Detective Inspector Chen

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