It’s been a long time since the end of a book has had me so gripped I’ve nearly missed my stop on the train, and had to sit on a bench at the station to finish those last few climactic pages. (Probably the last one was Steven Erikson’s The Crippled God, which had me walking into the office in floods of tears one morning.) But Bright Ruin (review copy from Pan Macmillan), the triumphant finale to Vic James‘s Dark Gifts trilogy, did exactly that.
A writer friend of mine has the motto that Misery Builds Character. And Bright Ruin, with its twisty-turny shocks and a body count George R R Martin would be proud of, delivers a thrilling finale to this series. It has everything you would expect and hope for, with a hefty dose of comment about bread-and-circuses contemporary British politics to go along with the roller-coaster plot.
You can’t help but admire the ruthless Bouda Matravers as she plots her way to power and the destruction of her rivals. You can’t help but root for Abi, shorn of the naive romaticism of the first book, as she seeks to topple the Equals. And Luke, trying to unravel the mysteries of the Equals historic rule of Britain. And Daisy, steadfast in her loyalty to Gavar Jardine.
And then there’s Silyen. A mess of contradictions. So amoral and self-interested, but oh, so interesting, intoxicating and compelling. Oh, Silyen …
If you haven’t read the first two books in this series, then this review isn’t going to persuade you. Not least as it’s impossible to write one without massively spoilering the earlier books. Go and read my reviews of The Gilded Cage and Tarnished City, both available elsewhere on this site. Then go and buy all three books, lock yourself away for the weekend and read them all in one sitting. You can thank me later.
Goodreads rating: 5*